I’m sure it has been well established by now, but in case it’s not SUGAR IS IN EVERYTHING! The best way to guarantee you’re not over consuming is to cook as many meals as possible. I get it though; I’m a college student athlete, cooking takes time. Even if you’re not playing a sport, students at UWEC are really involved. It’s so much easier to wake up in the morning and eat a Pop Tart or have a quick bowl of Frosted Flakes and call it breakfast, but by doing that you’re not just doing your body a disservice by filling it with sugar (See Day 1), you’re also keeping yourself from reaching your full potential. We’re college students. We’re busy. We stay up until 2am cramming for tests. We have 8-hour days running from class, to work, to activities. We need to eat good food to fuel our bodies!
There are a lot of things you might be eating that are packed with sugar and you don’t even know it. You might be eating things you think are healthy, but really aren’t. I hope you learn something about what isn’t going to help you get through your day and provide you with some healthier alternatives.
Any yogurt that is fruit flavored is packed with sugar. If you’ve ever had a fruit, Greek yogurt, all the fruit is at the bottom in sugary, syrupy goo. A container of Strawberry Yoplait Light has 10g of sugar in it. You’re not eating fresh strawberries; you’re eating processed strawberries and sugar. An alternative: mix fresh fruit in plain yogurt. If you can’t stomach plain yogurt (that’s me) mix it in a smoothie. I put about a quarter cup of plain Greek yogurt in smoothies so I’m not just getting calcium, but protein too!
Most peanut butters have added sugar. Two tablespoons of Skippy has 3g in it, and it’s the second ingredient listed. That might not seem like much, but if you’re like me and put peanut butter on everything it adds up by the end of the day. An alternative: look for natural peanut butter where the only ingredient is peanuts and maybe salt. It comes with a layer of oil on the top, which you mix when you open it. I really like Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter. It comes in a glass jar. It takes a bit to get used to the unsweetened taste, but now regular peanut butter tastes too sweet to me.
Cereal is notorious for tricking you into thinking it’s a great breakfast option. No matter what brand you buy, it’s not. It’s all sugar and processed grains. Have you noticed how if you have cereal for breakfast you’re starving by the middle of class? Because it’s sugar! Your body digests it really quickly and your hungry within an hour no matter the brand. Lucky Charms has 10g of sugar in it, Special K has 4g. They said in Fed Up, a bowl of Corn Flakes or a bowl of sugar are the same, you’re body is going to digest them the same way. Even the brands like Kashi that boast being a good source of protein, you’re better off eating something not processed. An alternative: have protein with breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day and you want to stay full. I like to start out with scrambled eggs, but if you don’t like eggs peanut butter (see above) on whole wheat toast is a great, fast option.
Orange juice, or any juice for that matter, is another sneaky breakfast item. An 8oz glass of Florida’s Natural has 22g of sugar. TWENTY TWO! Now there isn’t any added sugar, but it’s essentially a processed orange. You’re taking the fiber out, and your body is going to metabolize it just like a can of soda. A glass of orange juice is no different than a glass of soda with Vitamin C. An alternative: have a piece of fruit instead. Want something to drink with it? Have a glass of water.
It may not fool you into thinking it’s healthy, but soda is awful for you. The doctors compare companies like Coke and Pepsi to big tobacco companies back in the day. Stop drinking it as a beverage throughout your day, even if it’s diet. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda are just as bad for you as regular sugar and they make your brain crave sugar even more. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cherry Coke, but I see it as a treat. Soda is liquid candy. An alternative: water. Drink water! Need caffeine? Try tea. I love green tea and black tea with pomegranate. You can get it with pretty much any fruit you want. Just boil some water and pour it over a tea bag. Even easier, put a mug of water in the microwave for two minutes and drop the tea bag in- voila! You can even sweeten it with a little honey, which feels amazing on a sore throat that is all too common this time of year.
A very common meal for me is whole wheat pasta with some Prego on top. Did you know there’s added sugar in pasta sauce? In two cups of sauce there are 40g of sugar- FORTY! If you’re like me, you end up using half a can on one meal. That’s so much sugar! An alternative: homemade sauce is the best option, but like I said before, we’re college students and time is of the essence. I really like Nash Brother’s Trading Company Organic Pasta Sauce. If you look at the ingredient list you should recognize everything in there. It may be a bit pricier, but it’ll last longer and doesn’t spoil as quickly as the processed stuff does.
This is a typical go-to, quick snack. A basic, chocolate chip, Chewy granola bar has 7g of sugar. Even a “healthier” fruit granola bar is packed with sugar. A Nutrigrain bar, with a fruit center, has 11g of sugar. Eating these will not do much to curb an appetite, and may result in a crash. An alternative: I’m always a fan of an apple and peanut butter. The natural sugar in the apple is going to give you some energy fast, and the protein in the peanut butter is going to keep you full.