Are you a Sugar Detective?

Are you a sugar detective? You practically need to be a one these days to figure out if there is sugar in a packaged food. For example, you see 32 grams of sugar listed on a nutrition label and think to yourself, what does that mean? Is this a lot of sugar? Is it a little?  Is this a healthy option? I don’t see the word sugar listed, is there sugar in this? It can be really confusing. What’s really tricky about nutrition labels is there are over 60 different names for sugars, many of which don’t sound anything like sugar. Take a look at this list of some of the most popular sugars used in processed foods.

Types of sugar

Barley Sugar
Agave Nectar (by the way, not a healthy option, despite some suggestions)
Beet Sugar
Black Strap Molasses
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown Sugar
Cane Juice
Carob Syrup
Coconut Sugar
Corn Sweetener
Corn Syrup
Corn Syrup Solids
Evaporated Cane Juice
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Organic Raw Sugar
Rice Bran Syrup
Tapioca Syrup
Turbinado Sugar

All of these names represent a type of sugar

No wonder it’s confusing! Processed food manufacturers are continually changing the names of sugar, so that we as consumers are not quick to judge a product that has sugar in it. In other words, they try to confuse the consumer. Ugh!

You can figure out how much sugar is in something with just a little bit of detective work. First, look at the number of grams of sugar on the nutrition label. If you see something other than zero, there is sugar in the product. I always translate the grams to teaspoons in my head. It helps to make things more visual and more real for me. Four grams of sugar = 1 tsp of sugar. So if something has 32 grams of sugar in it, divide that by 4, and know that item or serving contains 8 teaspoons of sugar in it.

4 grams sugar = 1 teaspoon sugar

Serving size is an important heading to look at as well. Often times the serving size is smaller than we might actually eat. The nutrition label listings are representative of the serving size. Let’s say you have a beverage that has 2 servings in it, and the sugar is listed at 32 grams. That means that if you drink the full beverage, you are actually getting 64 grams of sugar, or 16 teaspoons of sugar. Yikes! This is another major sugar trick!

Always look at servings size!

Ingredients are listed in order of biggest amount to least amount. Sugars are often within the top five ingredients. Next, look at the ingredients list to see if you can discern what type of sugar is in the product. Note the name for your future reference, so you can start to discern all of the different names of sugar.

Let’s look at this in reality.

I looked up at a Go-Gurt nutrition label, and they average about 10 grams of sugar per container, which is equal to 2.5 teaspoons of sugar (not to mention a bunch of other crappy ingredients, but I digress). Say for instance a kiddo grabs a couple of those a day.  They have now consumed 5 teaspoons of sugar just from yogurt! Those beautiful San Pellegrino sodas that come in lemon, orange, pomegranate, etc. contain 32 grams of sugar. So yep, you got it, 32 grams of sugar = 8 teaspoons of sugar (in one drink!). A coke has 44 grams (not that much different than the supposed healthy drink). 44 grams of sugar = 11 teaspoons of sugar.

We are in a sugar epidemic!

Overall, this is A LOT of sugar, and we just talked about the potential of a yogurt and a beverage. If you are eating other processed foods, consider   In my opinion way too much for us to be consuming daily. According to Forbs & startling sugar infographic (check it out), American adults consume on average 22 teaspoons of sugar a day and kiddos consume an average of 32 teaspoons a day. That is staggering!

Why should we avoid it ?

Sugar consumption contributes to ADHD, focus issues, obesity, diabetes, cancer and many other immune suppressing diseases. Your immune system always takes a huge hit with sugar, and makes us more susceptible to colds, viruses and the flu. It is also can creates an inflammatory response in the body, causing aches and pains, exacerbating arthritis, and contributing to inflammatory diseases. Sugar depresses the immune system, according to, an expert in child wellness, drinking 2 sodas a day can depress the immune system by as much as 50%. This lowers the bodies ability to fight off illness.

Have you ever noticed how illness often follows birthday parties, Halloween, or other holidays where significant amounts of sugar have been consumed? Yep… sugar prevents us from fighting off those germs we come in contact with. 

What’s the take away here?  I encourage you, to be your own sugar detective, for you as well as for your family. Consider this your sugar awakening, and really start to pay attention to your daily intake. That awareness will help you to kick that sugar habit.

Would you like support kicking the sugar addiction? Learn more about my 1:1 program, and set up a “let’s meet” session.

Photo Credit to: Leon Ephraim
Updated 6.2.2019


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