The best way to avoid hidden sugars

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I'm Jo!

As a health coach & personal trainer I love helping people build a more balanced life.

With foods that nourish your body and are low-sugar. And functional exercise to help with mobility.


What’s the first thing you think about cutting out when you’re trying to eat less sugar? Cookies, cakes, and fizzy drinks are some of the top foods that we know are full of sugar. But have you thought about the hidden sugars that could be affecting your health?

On average people are eating 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, and that’s mostly from hidden sugars.

What foods contain hidden sugars?

Most foods that contain hidden sugars are processed and packaged foods. If you’re eating a lot of these foods, it could be you’re consuming a lot more sugar than you realise.

Some of the top foods that contain hidden sugars are;

  • Packaged fajitas mixes – It’s not just the fajitas spices in there
  • Pasta sauces
  • Packaged cereals – even ones that are labeled “healthy”
  • Salad dressings
  • Flavoured yogurts
  • Cereal bars
  • Instant oatmeal

What are the risks of hidden sugars?

Not only could you be holding onto weight or putting it on, but too much sugar has also been reported to increase the risk of many chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s.

The Government’s daily guideline for daily sugar consumption, from age 11 onwards is 7 teaspoons (that’s total sugars – natural and free sugars) To put this into perspective, just one can of fizzy drink contains up to 9 teaspoons!

Hidden sugars can mean we’re eating far too much of this stuff, even when we think we’re eating “healthily”.

How to avoid sugar

Understanding ingredient labels is a good place to start in identifying where there are hidden sugars.

With ingredients, they’re listed in order of the greatest amount first, following in descending order.

Trying to eat whole, homemade food as much as possible can help as you know exactly what is going into your food. And if there’s a recipe that includes sugar, I try to replace it with a natural sweetener or at least cut the amount by half.

Whether you’re eating natural sugars, like fruit, or refined sugar like cake and cookies, sugar is still sugar, and eating in moderation is important. Replacing your refined sugar treats with whole, natural foods like fruit or sweet vegetables like carrots can be a great starting point.

If you love chocolate, this raw chocolate recipe contains only three ingredients including cacao powder, which is the purest form of chocolate and includes nutrients like iron, potassium, magnesium, protein, and fibre.

How to find sugars in food

There are actually over 200 different names for sugar. So knowing the different names that food companies use can be helpful to try and avoid the hidden sugars.

These are some of the most popular names used;


  • Anything ending in “ose” (fructose, glucose, etc)
  • Barley malt
  • Fruit juice
  • Dextrin
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup


If you want to find out a bit more on how to quit sugar sign up to get my hidden sugars checklist below. Including tips on where to avoid sugars when doing your food shop.


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