Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of twelve books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.
The word is out: Most of us eat too much sugar. Even if you’re not indulging in sweet treats on the regular, you might be eating more sugar than you think. It’s abundant in foods you wouldn’t suspect: bread, deli meat, sauces, and more. Sure, you can check the ingredient lists, but sugar has many aliases that you might not recognize.
High-fructose corn syrup
This one’s been a known villain for a while now. Luckily, a lot of companies are ditching the stuff (yay!). But they’re frequently replacing it with regular sugar or less infamous substitutes. HG tip: You can generally assume that any time you see the word “syrup,” sugar is involved.
Evaporated cane juice/cane juice solids
Don’t let the health halo around juice fool you — this is basically just sugar. It might not be as processed as some of the other options out there, but it’s still sugar.
Sucrose, glucose, lactose, maltose, dextrose, or pretty much any -ose
These are easy to identify once you know what to look for; that “-ose” suffix. Common culprits include sucrose (table sugar), lactose (found in milk), glucose and dextrose (naturally occurring, but generally processed), and maltose (malt sugar).
Now, this is not to say that all fruit juice is as questionable as industrially produced corn syrup, but if you’re monitoring your sugar intake, just remember that while the sugar from fruit isn’t as highly processed, it still counts.
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Honey, Molasses, and Maple Syrup
Generally, these aren’t overly processed, but they’re sugar nonetheless. You don’t have to run screaming from them, but it’s good to know what you’re eating.
‘Til next time… Chew the right thing!