Would sugar by any other name still taste as sweet?
Food marketing peeps out there I applaud you. You have all done a stellar job of creating amazing packaging with tempting and misleading pictures luring us towards your products.
You fool us with pictures of farmhouses and rolling green hills, athletes or smiling “healthy” looking people having fun. You use words like natural, organic, wholesome and goodness. You promise us fat-free, gluten free, reduced salt to help us believe we are making the best and healthiest choice. You promise to be so good for us and we really want to believe you, so we buy! Ah, shame on us and shame on you!
The front of the packet is often a marvellous collaboration of fictional writing and picture placement set to lure us to the product but it’s when we flip over to the ever important, (yet a little bit boring) nutrition panel, that's where all the dirty secrets are revealed for us to see.
Many of us today are aware of the toxic effect of sugar on our health and do our best to avoid these nasty little white granules, but food manufacturers are one step ahead. Since the start of the processed food evolution in the 1950’s food manufacturers have been looking at ways to get us to buy and eat more, more, more! This can require a little creativity on their part and with sugar being named and shamed as a no go “food” the creative departments have got together and colluded to created other more inventive names, making it hard for the health conscious to identify if the offending agent is present.
Sugars added to products can be named over 40 different ways! Common names we see in packaging these days are corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, rice syrup, cane sugar, sucrose and my personal favourite dehydrated cane juice (seriously this must have been thought up on a Friday afternoon just before 5), but these are only to name a few.
Image source from Choice.com.au
The World Health Organisation states that “No more than 10% of total daily calorie consumption should be from sugar”(WHO - Releases/2015/sugar-guideline). So, let’s think about this for a sweet minute. If the average adult kilojoule intake is recommended to be about 8700 or about 2000 calories a day, this means that only 52g or a meagre 13 teaspoons of sugar! (Choice – Eating the sugar coating)
Our issue is further compounded when you consider the estimate that over 70% of package products contain some form of added sugar (Choice - Added-sugar#bad) and with all the creative misleading names for the sweet demon what are we to do?
In a perfect world, we would shun all supermarkets and their temptress products. We would grow our own and make our own and while many have been able to do this successful other might be looking for a less extreme approach.
My advice is to learn to read and interpret the nutritional panel and just as importantly the ingredients list. It is in these that the secrets of products are truly revealed. Learn what names added sugar hides under and make informed choices. If you can’t pronounce it, do you really want to eat it (except for quinoa)? Eat with awareness, be informed and not mislead by the marketing.
Allison is a qualified Naturopathy and Nutritional & Western Herbal Medicine. As the founder of Fundamental Wellbeing she specialises in gut health and stress related conditions. Allison possesses as strong passion for all things health and wellness, she understands that balance is essential to life, looking for real world solutions to help client’s reach their health goals.