Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat

8 Ways Cutting Out Added Sugars Changed My Life | Eat This, Not That!

Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat | Johns Hopkins Medicine

A simple blood test changed my life. The results revealed something about me that I didn't know or would never have guessed: I had a problem with sugar. My doctor told me I had prediabetes. A prediabetes diagnosis meant my blood sugar level was higher than it should be but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes.

I exercised, cooked at home, and stayed healthy all my life, but then, I discovered a hidden danger lurking in my kitchen: added sugars. They were in everything from my pasta sauce to my bread to my cereal. I vowed to give them up—and doing so had a snowball effect on my entire life.

Everything you do to prevent the progression of prediabetes will help you look and feel better and perform at your best. Eating healthier will encourage you to be more active.

You'll handle stress better, improve your sleep habits, and feel more optimistic about life. I know because it happened to me.

I gave up added sugars and wrote The 14-Day No Sugar Diet, which will help you live a happier and healthier life. Read on to find out what happened to me.


Nutrition researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that basing meals around high-fiber plant foods those used in The 14-Day No Sugar Diet meal plan improved feelings of satiety.

This means you should fill up with more vegetables throughout the day—not just at dinner. Throw some greens into your morning smoothie, power up at lunch with hearty salads, and pair your dinner main with a veggie side.

Doing this will keep you from succumbing to cookies and ice cream when cravings hit.

Study participants felt fuller longer than those who consumed meat protein meals.

In fact, the subjects who ate protein from beans and peas consumed an average of 12 percent fewer calories at their next meal than if they had eaten meat.

Think about that: Meals with meat are typically very satiating, but this study showed that high-fiber plant protein was even more effective at keeping post-meal cravings at bay.


According to a double-blind clinical study published in the Journal of Nutrition, obese, insulin-resistant people who drank two blueberry smoothies daily and did nothing else to change their lifestyles or diets boosted their insulin sensitivity by 10 percent or more.

Un juices, smoothies keep the fiber intact, so you stay fuller longer and avoid drastic dips in blood sugar. Following a high-fiber diet has been shown to help increase insulin sensitivity. This is important because being resistant to insulin can lead to type 2 diabetes.


Excess weight is one of the leading factors for type 2 diabetes. In fact, being obese makes you up to 40 times more ly to develop diabetes than someone who is a normal weight.

But by following The 14-Day No Sugar Diet, you should be able to safely lose enough weight to dramatically cut your risk. (I did!) Losing just seven percent of your body weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent.

Make that your goal. Even a five percent reduction in weight delivers significant benefits.


Fatigue is a common complaint of people who eat a lot of high-sugar foods. But limiting certain foods from your diet to maintain stable blood sugar levels can also cause exhaustion because the cells are deprived of fuel.

The balancing act needs to be done right. My structured meal plan will help keep your blood sugar stable while maintaining high-energy levels throughout the day so you won't need caffeine or chocolate pick-me-ups.


You truly are what you eat! Recent research by scientists from the University of Delaware and the National Institute on Aging suggests that reducing starchy, sweet, and processed foods may help us hold on to our precious muscle and strength. As you age, your muscle mass decreases, which is why you have to work harder to maintain them.

By limiting sugary foods from your diet and incorporating a strength routine into your workouts, you can build more lean muscle mass. And when you have more muscle mass, uptake of glucose improves, reducing your risk of insulin resistance.


A study by Johns Hopkins Medical School researchers showed that a diet that's low in carbohydrates could improve artery function. Furthermore, an analysis of 23 clinical studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that keeping blood sugar stable with a low-carbohydrate diet is effective at reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease.

Compared to people on a low-fat diet, low-carb eaters in this study significantly reduced their total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improved their HDL (good) cholesterol. The 14-Day No Sugar Diet will dramatically reduce your reliance on high-carb processed foods that lead to heart problems.


Carrying a big belly is the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there's a well-documented remedy for too much belly fat: a reduced-sugar diet. By eating less high-calorie sugary carbs, your body will respond by burning fat stored around your middle for energy.

Researchers compared losing weight through a low-fat diet and a low-carb diet in subjects over the course of a six- month diet plan. Each test group ate the same number of calories in their diets; only the carb and fat content differed. It turned out that the low-carb dieters lost an average of 10 pounds more than those on the low-fat diet.

Researchers also found that belly fat loss percentage was much higher for the low-carb group than the low-fat group.


By shrinking your belly fat, you'll reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol that's associated with a buildup of visceral fat—the dangerous fat that surrounds your organs. In the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, researchers found that middle-aged women who had more visceral belly fat also had more hostility and depression symptoms.

According to a different study of 12,000 people by researchers at the University of Warwick, adding more servings of fruits and vegetables incrementally improves feelings of happiness.

Most dramatically, people who went from eating almost no produce to eight daily portions of fruits and vegetables boosted their psychological well-being as much as they would if they went from being unemployed to employed.

As you can see, The 14-Day No Sugar Diet not only changed my life, it made it worth living.

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!


Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong

Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat | Johns Hopkins Medicine

A NOTE ABOUT OUR PHOTOGRAPHSSo many images you see in articles about obesity strip fat people of their strength and personality.

According to a recent study, only 11 percent of large people depicted in news reports were wearing professional clothing. Nearly 60 percent were headless torsos.

So, we asked our interview subjects to take full creative control of the photos in this piece. This is how they want to present themselves to the world.

“As a kid, I thought that fat people were just lonely and sad—almost these pathetic lost causes. So I want to show that we get to experience love, too. I’m not some 'fat friend' or some dude's chubby chasing dream. I'm genuinely happy. I just wish I'd known how possible that was when I was a kiddo.”— CORISSA ENNEKING

This is Corissa Enneking at her lightest: She wakes up, showers and smokes a cigarette to keep her appetite down.

She drives to her job at a furniture store, she stands in four-inch heels all day, she eats a cup of yogurt alone in her car on her lunch break.

After work, lightheaded, her feet throbbing, she counts out three Ritz crackers, eats them at her kitchen counter and writes down the calories in her food journal.

Or not. Some days she comes home and goes straight to bed, exhausted and dizzy from hunger, shivering in the Kansas heat. She rouses herself around dinnertime and drinks some orange juice or eats half a granola bar. Occasionally she’ll just sleep through the night, waking up the next day to start all over again.

The last time she lived this, a few years ago, her mother marched her to the hospital. “My daughter is sick,” she told the doctor. “She's not eating.” He looked Enneking up and down. Despite six months of starvation, she was still wearing plus sizes, still couldn’t shop at J. Crew, still got unsolicited diet advice from colleagues and customers.

Enneking told the doctor that she used to be larger, that she’d lost some weight the same way she had lost it three or four times before—seeing how far she could get through the day without eating, trading solids for liquids, food for sleep. She was hungry all the time, but she was learning to it. When she did eat, she got panic attacks. Her boss was starting to notice her erratic behavior.

“Well, whatever you're doing now,” the doctor said, “it's working.” He urged her to keep it up and assured her that once she got small enough, her body would start to process food differently. She could add a few hundred calories to her diet. Her period would come back. She would stay small, but without as much effort.

“If you looked at anything other than my weight,” Enneking says now, “I had an eating disorder. And my doctor was congratulating me.”

Ask almost any fat person about her interactions with the health care system and you will hear a story, sometimes three, the same as Enneking’s: rolled eyes, skeptical questions, treatments denied or delayed or revoked.

Doctors are supposed to be trusted authorities, a patient’s primary gateway to healing. But for fat people, they are a source of unique and persistent trauma.

No matter what you go in for or how much you’re hurting, the first thing you will be told is that it would all get better if you could just put down the Cheetos.

Emily went to a gynecological surgeon to have an ovarian cyst removed. The physician pointed out her body fat on the MRI, then said, “Look at that skinny woman in there trying to get out.”

This phenomenon is not merely anecdotal. Doctors have shorter appointments with fat patients and show less emotional rapport in the minutes they do have. Negative words—“noncompliant,” “overindulgent,” “weak willed”—pop up in their medical histories with higher frequency.

In one study, researchers presented doctors with case histories of patients suffering from migraines. With everything else being equal, the doctors reported that the patients who were also classified as fat had a worse attitude and were less ly to follow their advice.

And that’s when they see fat patients at all: In 2011, the Sun-Sentinel polled OB-GYNs in South Florida and discovered that 14 percent had barred all new patients weighing more than 200 pounds.

Some of these doctors are simply applying the same presumptions as the society around them. An anesthesiologist on the West Coast tells me that as soon as a larger patient goes under, the surgeons start trading “high school insults” about her body over the operating table.

Janice O’Keefe, a former nurse in Boston, tells me a doctor once looked at her, paused, then asked, “How could you do this to yourself?” Emily, a counselor in Eastern Washington, went to a gynecological surgeon to have an ovarian cyst removed.

The physician pointed out her body fat on the MRI, then said, “Look at that skinny woman in there trying to get out.”

“I was worried I had cancer,” Emily says, “and she was turning it into a teachable moment about my weight.”

Other physicians sincerely believe that shaming fat people is the best way to motivate them to lose weight. “It’s the last area of medicine where we prescribe tough love,” says Mayo Clinic researcher Sean Phelan.

In a 2013 journal article, bioethicist Daniel Callahan argued for more stigma against fat people. “People don’t realize that they are obese or if they do realize it, it’s not enough to stir them to do anything about it,” he tells me. Shame helped him kick his cigarette habit, he argues, so it should work for obesity too.

This belief is cartoonishly step with a generation of research into obesity and human behavior. As one of the (many) stigma researchers who responded to Callahan’s article pointed out, shaming smokers and drug users with D.A.R.E.-style “just say no” messages may have actually increased substance abuse by making addicts less ly to bring up their habit with their doctors and family members.

Plus, rather obviously, smoking is a behavior; being fat is not.

Jody Dushay, an endocrinologist and obesity specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, says most of her patients have tried dozens of diets and have lost and regained hundreds of pounds before they come to her. Telling them to try again, but in harsher terms, only sets them up to fail and then blame themselves.

89%of obese adults have been bullied by their romantic partnersSource: University of Connecticut, 2017

Not all physicians set out to denigrate their fat patients, of course; some of them do damage because of subtler, more unconscious biases. Most doctors, for example, are fit—“If you go to an obesity conference, good luck trying to get a treadmill at 5 a.m.,” Dushay says—and have spent more than a decade of their lives in the high-stakes, high-stress bubble of medical schools.

According to several studies, thin doctors are more confident in their recommendations, expect their patients to lose more weight and are more ly to think dieting is easy. Sarah (not her real name), a tech CEO in New England, once told her doctor that she was having trouble eating less throughout the day. “Look at me,” her doctor said. “I had one egg for breakfast and I feel fine.

Then there are the glaring cultural differences.

Kenneth Resnicow, a consultant who trains physicians to build rapport with their patients, says white, wealthy, skinny doctors will often try to bond with their low-income patients by telling them, “I know what it’s not to have time to cook.” Their patients, who might be single mothers with three kids and two jobs, immediately think “No, you don’t,” and the relationship is irretrievably soured.

When Joy Cox, an academic in New Jersey, was 16, she went to the hospital with stomach pains. The doctor didn’t diagnose her dangerously inflamed bile duct, but he did, nowhere, suggest that she’d get better if she stopped eating so much fried chicken. “He managed to denigrate my fatness and my blackness in the same sentence,” she says.

“There is so much agency taken from marginalized groups to mute their voices and mask their existence. Being depicted as a female CEO—one who is also black and fat—means so much to me. It is a representation of the reclamation of power in the boardroom, classroom and living room of my body. I own all of this.”— JOY COX

Many of the financial and administrative structures doctors work within help reinforce this bad behavior.

The problem starts in medical school, where, according to a 2015 survey, students receive an average of just 19 hours of nutrition education over four years of instruction—five hours fewer than they got in 2006.

Then the trouble compounds once doctors get into daily practice. Primary care physicians only get 15 minutes for each appointment, barely enough time to ask patients what they ate today, much less during all the years leading up to it.

And a more empathic approach to treatment simply doesn’t pay: While procedures blood tests and CT scans command reimbursement rates from hundreds to thousands of dollars, doctors receive as little as $24 to provide a session of diet and nutrition counseling.

Lesley Williams, a family medicine doctor in Phoenix, tells me she gets an alert from her electronic health records software every time she’s about to see a patient who is above the “overweight” threshold.

The reason for this is that physicians are often required, in writing, to prove to hospital administrators and insurance providers that they have brought up their patient’s weight and formulated a plan to bring it down—regardless of whether that patient came in with arthritis or a broken arm or a bad sunburn.

Failing to do that could result in poor performance reviews, low ratings from insurance companies or being denied reimbursement if they refer patients to specialized care.

Another issue, says Kimberly Gudzune, an obesity specialist at Johns Hopkins, is that many doctors, no matter their specialty, think weight falls under their authority.

Gudzune often spends months working with patients to set realistic goals—playing with their grandkids longer, going off a cholesterol medication—only to have other doctors threaten it all. One of her patients was making significant progress until she went to a cardiologist who told her to lose 100 pounds.

“All of a sudden she goes back to feeling a failure and we have to start over,” Gudzune says. “Or maybe she just never comes back at all.”

60%of the calories Americans consume come from “ultra-processed foods”Source: British Medical Journal, 2016

And so, working within a system that neither trains nor encourages them to meaningfully engage with their higher-weight patients, doctors fall back on recommending fad diets and delivering bland motivational platitudes.

Ron Kirk, an electrician in Boston, says that for years, his doctor's first resort was to put him on some diet he couldn't maintain for more than a few weeks.

“They told me lettuce was a ‘free’ food,” he says—and he’d find himself carving up a head of romaine for dinner.

In a study that recorded 461 interactions with doctors, only 13 percent of patients got any specific plan for diet or exercise and only 5 percent got help arranging a follow-up visit.

“It can be stressful when [patients] start asking a lot of specific questions” about diet and weight loss, one doctor told researchers in 2012. “I don’t feel I have the time to sit there and give them private counseling on basics. I say, ‘Here’s some websites, look at this.

’” A 2016 survey found that nearly twice as many higher-weight Americans have tried meal-replacement diets—the kind most ly to fail—than have ever received counseling from a dietician.

“It borders on medical malpractice,” says Andrew (not his real name), a consultant and musician who has been large his whole life.

A few years ago, on a routine visit, Andrew’s doctor weighed him, announced that he was “dangerously overweight” and told him to diet and exercise, offering no further specifics.

Should he go on a low-fat diet? Low-carb? Become a vegetarian? Should he do Crossfit? Yoga? Should he buy a fucking ThighMaster?

“She didn't even ask me what I was already doing for exercise,” he says. “At the time, I was training for serious winter mountaineering trips, hiking every weekend and going to the gym four times a week. Instead of a conversation, I got a sound bite. It felt shaming me was the entire purpose.”

All of this makes higher-weight patients more ly to avoid doctors. Three separate studies have found that fat women are more ly to die from breast and cervical cancers than non-fat women, a result partially attributed to their reluctance to see doctors and get screenings.

Erin Harrop, a researcher at the University of Washington, studies higher-weight women with anorexia, who, contrary to the size-zero stereotype of most media depictions, are twice as ly to report vomiting, using laxatives and abusing diet pills.

Thin women, Harrop discovered, take around three years to get into treatment, while her participants spent an average of 13 and a half years waiting for their disorders to be addressed.

“A lot of my job is helping people heal from the trauma of interacting with the medical system,” says Ginette Lenham, a counselor who specializes in obesity. The rest of it, she says, is helping them heal from the trauma of interacting with everyone else.



Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat | Johns Hopkins Medicine

For the past 20 years, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, has been a vocal advocate for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Pennsylvania. And he’s been pushing the public and lawmakers to stop looking at addiction as a crime.

“Addiction has to be looked at a disease and it is, other diseases, highly treatable, and treatment works,” he said.

What was supposed to be a routine visit to the pediatrician with little Oren resulted in a finding that sent Katy Rank Lev and her husband, Corey, into a frenzy.

Their 1-year-old had lead in his blood.

The Allegheny County Board of Health has placed e-cigarettes under nearly all of the same regulations as traditional cigarettes when it comes to use indoors. The vote Wednesday came after a series of speakers asked for the policy to be rejected.

Former smoker Dale Ray spoke in opposition to the regulations. He said he had diminished lung function due to his smoking habit. He said tried to quit smoking several times but it never stuck until he tried e-cigarettes.

Pennsylvania officials are making progress on rules to govern the state's new medical marijuana program, including how dispensaries will operate and the fees paid by growers and processors.  

The Department of Health on Tuesday posted draft regulations for dispensaries .

No facilities in Pennsylvania have been approved to sell medical marijuana, but there are 103 families in the state who can already legally own the drug.

At the Marshfield Clinic dental center in Chippewa Falls, Wis., hygienist Karen Eslinger is getting her room ready. It's all quite routine — covering the chair's headrest with plastic, opening instruments, wiping down trays.

But then she starts getting creative.

Restrictions on what Medicaid and Medicare will cover for nursing home patients can often lead to unnecessary hospitalizations – an estimated $8 billion in unnecessary hospitalizations each year, in fact.

The National Institutes of Health is awarding a $20 million grant to Penn State Health's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

The funds essentially aim to use scientific discoveries to make healthier communities.

The money will go towards training programs for faculty, staff and students, groundbreaking research, as well as a data system that will be able to analyze information to predict and prevent disease.

It will connect research done at 10 different schools and institutes at Penn State.

When then-Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri died from amyloidosis in 1988 not much was known about the disease. Since then, research and awareness has increased and now an endowed chair is being created to further research and treatment at the University of Pittsburgh.

Amyloidosis is a systemic disease that usually attacks the heart but can impact other internal organs.

A small start-up in East Liberty is working on an in-home test kit that could help predict the risk of having a heart attack.

Accel Diagnostics is placing a common blood test done in hospitals onto a device no bigger than a credit card.

Vice President of Engineering Greg Lewis said the test could measure B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) or troponin, both of which are released when heart muscles are overly stressed.

The most common treatment for women with breast cancer is a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. But a growing number of patients who have pacemakers or mini defibrillators are recommended by doctors to opt for a mastectomy, for fear of negatively impacting those devices.

The Allegheny County Health Department is attempting to cut the number of flu cases this season by offering four types of vaccines, all injection-based.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker said the vaccinations are all available at the department’s clinic in Oakland.

This year, it will not offer the FluMist nasal spray vaccine. Hacker said it was not as effective as other vaccines and is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Black health experts want to leverage growing awareness of racial inequality into a fight against cigarettes.

Lung cancer kills black men at higher rates than any other group nationwide, and last week a group of health experts and activists called for President Barack Obama to ban menthol cigarettes, making a direct link between health and social justice.

Navy veteran Ken Haynes stepped off a beefed-up RV, sporting military logos and said he was impressed with the vehicle.

The RV was a Vet Center’s mobile unit, touring the Pittsburgh area this week. Haynes stopped by on Wednesday when it was parked outside the Veterans Leadership Program offices in the Strip District. Later, it parked and opened its doors at the River Hounds Game on the South Side.

Sorry, kids. Your pediatrician will probably give you the flu vaccine in the form of a shot this year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said Tuesday that it doesn't recommend using the flu vaccine that comes as a nasal spray. That's because the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at its performance last year and concluded it wasn't up to snuff.

An experimental drug dramatically reduced the toxic plaques found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, a team reports in the journal Nature.

Results from a small number of patients who received a high dose of the drug, called aducanumab, hint that it may also be able to slow the loss of memory and thinking.

In addition to bringing a baby into the world, many of The Midwife Center’s birth stories share a common anecdote – one of the mother-to-be going in and the building while their partner or family member searches for parking. 

Part One in an NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.

You might call it a silent epidemic.

Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.

So in a school classroom of 25 students, five of them may be struggling with the same issues many adults deal with: depression, anxiety, substance abuse.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. is known for employing doctors with highly refined subspecialties, and now St. Clair Hospital doctors can tap into that expertise.

An agreement between the two hospitals, finalized this week, will allow St. Clair doctors to access eTumor Boards – a virtual version of tumor board reviews, in which multiple doctors brainstorm ways to treat an individual patient.

At the most basic level cancer can be defined as the DNA of a normal cell going haywire. 

Many efforts to address the food waste crisis hinge on getting consumers to buy fruits and vegetables that are adorably ugly — the bumpy tomato, the bulbous carrot, the dinged apple. Taste and nutritional value aren't compromised by their irregular appearance.

Buried in the fine print of many marketplace health plan documents is language that allows them to refuse to cover a range of services that are used more often by women, a study finds.

It's unclear if these exclusions have prevented patients from getting needed treatments. An insurance industry representative says patients are generally able to get care if it's appropriate for them. Yet some women with a family history of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, for instance, may have gaps in care because of the exclusions.

Dozens of journal articles cross our desks at NPR each week and, nurses in the emergency room, we need to do rapid triage.

First we scan for those in critical need of attention (they aren't all that frequent). Next we look for studies that are interesting but not essential. Finally, we ask ourselves whether articles that are iffy need some attention anyway, since other news organizations are going to run with them. We figure Shots readers would to see our take.

Olympic medals are won by margins of tenths or even hundredths of a second. So, it's no surprise that athletes want any edge they can get — even methods not backed by a lot of scientific evidence.

Noelle, who is in labor at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, tells a nurse that she isn't feeling right. Then her water breaks. The nurse checks the monitors and realizes that the umbilical cord has prolapsed. This is an obstetrical emergency.

Noelle has had this emergency — and others — thousands of times in the past three years that she has been in the simulation lab at Conemaugh. Noelle Birthing Simulator, made by Gaumard Scientific Co., Florida, is a full-size mannequin used to help nurses, residents and physicians practice real-life emergencies.

The healthy human gut is home to hundreds of millions of bacteria species.

But people who are missing a few hundred or so particular species are at greater risk for certain health issues, including Crohn’s disease, which is characterized  by chronic inflammation of the bowels. 

Richard Duerr, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is co-senior author of a study linking that lack of gut diversity with a specific genetic variation.

Three college-age scientists think they know how to solve a huge problem facing medicine. They think they've found a way to overcome antibiotic resistance.

Many of the most powerful antibiotics have lost their efficacy against dangerous bacteria, so finding new antibiotics is a priority.

It's too soon to say for sure if the young researchers are right, but if gumption and enthusiasm count for anything, they stand a fighting chance.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 25, 2012.

Food, as we so often note on this blog, means a lot of different things to different people. To Olympic athletes, food is fuel for exceptional athletic performance. But there's a surprising amount of variety in just how much fuel elite athletes need.

We're living at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, many Americans overeat refined grains and sugar.

This may help explain why the obesity rate seems stuck. The most recent estimate is that 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have published a study linking unconventional gas development with asthma attacks.

“We found that patients living closer to more—or bigger—unconventional natural gas wells had higher risk for an asthma attack,” says Sara Rasmussen, the study’s lead author.


Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat

Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Linkedin Pinterest Food and Nutrition Recipes for Heart Health Heart-Smart Eating Diabetes-Friendly Recipes

Are you skipping cookies, cake or other sweet treats to reduce your sugar intake? Give yourself an A for effort, but you’re probably still eating more sugar than you realize.

The average American eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. You’re ly not adding that much sugar to food yourself, so could you really be eating that much? Well, yes, says Erin Gager, R.D., L.D.N.

, a dietitian at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, because sugar is in a lot more foods than you may think.

Health Risks of Excess Sugar

This extra sugar may be adding to your waistline as well as putting your heart at risk. Research shows that excess sugar consumption can be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar consumption to 25 grams (about six teaspoons) per day for women and 36 grams (nine teaspoons) per day for men.

Knowing where sugar may be hiding can help you meet these goals and beat added sugar at its game of hide and seek.

Know the Names for Sugar

The nutrition facts label is required to inform you how much sugar is in a food. However, the label does not separate the amounts of naturally occurring sugar from added sugar, Gager explains.

Sugar is found naturally in many nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables. But, you have to be a bit more savvy with locating foods that contain added sugar.

There are more than 60 names for added sugar.

To identify added sugars, look at the ingredients list. Some major clues that an ingredient is an added sugar include:

  • it has syrup (examples: corn syrup, rice syrup)
  • the word ends in “ose” (examples: fructose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose)
  • “sugar” is in the name (examples: raw sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, confectionary sugar)

Other examples of added sugar include fruit nectars, concentrates of juices, honey, agave and molasses.

4 Foods With Hidden Sugar

Most people are able to identify desserts and candy as having added sugar, but what about less obvious sources? Some foods that most people would consider “healthy” may actually have a lot of added sugar in them, such as:

  1. Just because it says “whole grain” or “fortified with vitamins and minerals” doesn’t mean there’s no sugar.

    Health tip: Try to choose a cereal with 10–12 grams or less of sugar per serving. Granola and granola bars can be heavy sources of added sugars, so check their labels.

  2. If you flavored yogurt, peek at the nutrition facts label. You may be shocked at the amount of sugar you are eating.

    Health tip: Try looking around and experimenting with other, less sugary yogurts. You can always get a plain yogurt and add your own fruit!

  3. Sometimes your food just needs a little extra kick, but keep in mind that it might cost you in your sugar consumption. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, salad dressings and relish all have added sugars that mount up.

  4. A study conducted at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that drinking high levels of sugar-sweetened carbonated beverage was associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease in adults without a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes.

    Health tip: Be careful and read the nutrition facts label when choosing carbonated beverages, flavored milks and sports drinks.

Be sure to talk to your doctor or a dietitian if you make changes to your diet.

Healthy Snack Suggestion: Do-It-Yourself Trail Mix

Try this trail mix recipe for a sweet-tasting, healthy treat.

  • 1 cup wheat cereal
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit: raisins, blueberries, cranberries, chopped apricots, plums, or peaches, or a mixture
  • 1/4 cup cashews (1 ounce)

Mix ingredients, split into two servings, and store in sandwich-sized plastic bags. Each serving contains about 192 calories, 5 g protein, 9 g fat, 28 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, and 115 mg sodium.

This article is written by Erin Gager, R.D., L.D.N., a dietitian at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.


Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat | Johns Hopkins Medicine

You might have heard that sugar causes cancer or makes it grow faster. In some ways, this makes sense. Every cell in your body uses blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But cancer cells use about 200 times more than normal cells. Tumors that start in the thin, flat (squamous) cells in your lungs gobble up even more glucose. They need huge amounts of sugar to fuel their growth.

The sugar your cells need comes from your diet. And not just from gooey desserts or giant white chocolate mochas. Sugar is also found in:

  • Fruit (fructose)
  • Vegetables (glucose)
  • Dairy products (lactose)
  • Carbs bread, pasta, and rice

What would happen if you cut out these foods? Would that slow cancer or stop it from forming in the first place?

So far, there’s not much proof that a low-sugar or low-carb diet lowers your chance of cancer. One exception is cancer of the esophagus, the tube that runs from your throat to your stomach. A recent study suggests that sugar and sweetened drinks may raise the chances of this cancer by 70% or more.

Many experts, including the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, don’t think sugar causes cancer. They say the real problem is obesity.

Fat cells release inflammatory proteins called adipokines. They can damage DNA and eventually cause tumors. The more fat cells you have, the more of these proteins you’re ly to have.

Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for at least 13 types of cancer, including breast, liver and colon cancer.

Other cancer experts say sugar itself can drive cancer. One such expert is noted cancer researcher Lewis Cantley, PhD, director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

Cantley thinks some cancers may start with high levels of insulin, the hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your blood. He says his research shows that “having high levels of insulin is ly to drive cancer. And what drives insulin levels is sugar.”

He doesn’t eat any sugar himself because he believes the link between sugar and cancer is clear.

Even if you don’t think sugar can cause cancer, it’s still a good idea to eat less sugar. Research says you should shoot for 6 teaspoons a day if you’re a woman and 9 if you’re a man. Yet most people in the U.S. eat about 22. That’s 130 pounds of sugar each year.

Cantley says that means many Americans have high insulin levels all the time and a higher risk of cancer.

Peiying Yang, PhD, a cancer researcher and associate professor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, agrees.

“I would be surprised if reducing sugar consumption wouldn’t help reduce cancer risk,” she says. “It makes sense to limit added sugar, including high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, sweetened teas, sports drinks, and processed foods, along with candy, cookies, ice cream, and sweetened breakfast cereal.”

She’s often asked whether it’s OK to eat fruit, since many fruits are high in fructose.

“It’s fine to eat fruit as part of a normal diet,” Yang explains, “but there should be less fruit than vegetables. If the recommended serving is five fruits and vegetables a day, at least three servings should come from vegetables.”

It can be tough to track down all the sugar you eat. It’s hidden in things you’d never expect, soups, salad dressings, peanut butter, yogurt, ketchup, instant oatmeal, nut milks, and hot dogs.

And often, it’s not even called sugar (sucrose) on the label.

There are more than 60 names for added sugar. Some, maltose, dextrose and glucose, end in “ose.” Also watch for:

  • Fruit nectar
  • Corn, rice, and maple syrups
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Agave

They may sound healthier than sucrose. But to your cells, they’re all just sugar.


Georgia State University, department of physics and astronomy.

Kevin Yarema, PhD, associate professor and researcher in carbohydrate engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

ScienceDaily: “Sweetening connection between sugar and cancer.” “Starbucks Coffee Company: Beverage and Nutrition Information.”

American Institute for Cancer Research: “Sugar and cancer risk.”

National Cancer Institute: “Common Cancer Myths and Misconceptions.”

European Surgery. Dietary sugar and Barrett’s esophagus.

American Cancer Society: “Common questions about diet and cancer.”

National Cancer Institute: “Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity.”

National Cancer Institute: “Chronic inflammation.”

Journal of Cancer. “Obesity and cancer: the role of adipose tissue and adipo-cytokines-induced chronic inflammation.”

Lewis Cantley, PhD, director, Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medicine.

Peiying Yang, PhD, associate professor of general oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

American Heart Association: “Added Sugars.” “Finding the Hidden Sugars in the Food You Eat.”

National Institutes of Health: “Dietary sugar and Barrett’s esophagus.”

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know

Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Linkedin Pinterest Food and Nutrition Gut Health Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Eating for Your Gut

Reviewed By:

You may have heard of the FODMAP diet from a friend or on the internet. When people say “FODMAP diet,” they usually mean a diet low in FODMAP — certain sugars that may cause intestinal distress. This diet is designed to help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) figure out which foods are problematic and which foods reduce symptoms.

“The low FODMAP diet is a temporary eating plan that’s very restrictive,” says Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Hazel Galon Veloso, M.D.

“It’s always good to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet, but especially with the low FODMAP diet since it eliminates so many foods — it’s not a diet anyone should follow for long.

It’s a short discovery process to determine what foods are troublesome for you.”

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly. Some people experience digestive distress after eating them. Symptoms include:

  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach bloating
  • Gas and flatulence

How does the low FODMAP diet work?

Low FODMAP is a three-step elimination diet:

  1. First, you stop eating certain foods (high FODMAP foods).
  2. Next, you slowly reintroduce them to see which ones are troublesome.
  3. Once you identify the foods that cause symptoms, you can avoid or limit them while enjoying everything else worry-free.

“We recommend following the elimination portion of the diet for only two to six weeks,” says Veloso.

“This reduces your symptoms and if you have SIBO, it can help decrease abnormally high levels of intestinal bacteria.

Then every three days, you can add a high FODMAP food back into your diet, one at a time, to see if it causes any symptoms. If a particular high FODMAP food causes symptoms, then avoid this long term.”

What can I eat on the FODMAP diet?

Foods that trigger symptoms vary from person to person.

To ease IBS and SIBO symptoms, it’s essential to avoid high FODMAP foods that aggravate the gut, including:

  • Dairy-based milk, yogurt and ice cream
  • Wheat-based products such as cereal, bread and crackers
  • Beans and lentils
  • Some vegetables, such as artichokes, asparagus, onions and garlic
  • Some fruits, such as apples, cherries, pears and peaches

Instead, base your meals around low FODMAP foods such as:

  • Eggs and meat
  • Certain cheeses such as brie, Camembert, cheddar and feta
  • Almond milk
  • Grains rice, quinoa and oats
  • Vegetables eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini
  • Fruits such as grapes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries and pineapple

Get a full list of FODMAP food from your doctor or nutritionist.

Who should try it?

The low FODMAP diet is part of the therapy for those with IBS and SIBO. Research has found that it reduces symptoms in up to 86% of people.

Because the diet can be challenging during the first, most restrictive phase, it’s important to work with a doctor or dietitian, who can ensure you’re following the diet correctly — which is crucial to success — and maintaining proper nutrition.

“Anyone who is underweight shouldn’t try this on their own,” says Veloso. “The low FODMAP diet isn’t meant for weight loss, but you can lose weight on it because it eliminates so many foods. For someone at an already too low weight, losing more can be dangerous.”

How a Doctor Can Help

Dietary changes can have a big impact on IBS and SIBO symptoms, but doctors often use other therapies as well. Antibiotics can quickly reduce small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, while laxatives and low-dose antidepressants can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

A combination of dietary changes, medications and stress management techniques is often the best approach. Learn how you can work with a doctor to find the SIBO and IBS treatments that work well for you.