Craving sugar doesn’t necessarily mean you’re jonesing for cookies, cakes, chocolate, candy or anything that is obviously sweet. Sugar is present in all sorts of food, some of which may surprise you.
We know, we know. Some of the articles that make the rounds with headlines like “You’ll be SHOCKED to learn that the following foods are high in sugar” include food that won't actually shock you. Store-bought protein and granola bars, for example, have been around long enough and have already been outed for their high sugar content. Yogurt, too, shouldn’t be a surprise, especially the brands that include chocolate chips or chocolate-coated candies.
But other articles making the rounds — even some of the ones that include the obvious, in fact — do point out food that are surprisingly high in sugar. When you get whole wheat or 7-grain bread, do you notice that there can be 3 to 4 grams of sugar per slice? Do you consider how much sugar is in a serving size (half a cup) of baked beans? Anywhere between 12 and 16 grams.
You may have gotten so used to the flavor — and hooked on the white stuff — that the same foods with lower sugar content will not taste right to you. This is the idea behind “Fed Up,” a film project that examines the food industry’s role in America’s obesity epidemic, with Katie Couric, Laurie David and director Stephanie Soechtig.
In addition to the making the film, The Fed Up team has issued a challenge to people, particularly children (and the schools they attend) to go sugar-free for 10 days. And given the foods we don’t realize are high in sugar, it’s harder than you think. To date, according to the team’s website, more than 50,000 have said, “Challenge accepted.”
Going sugar-free is indeed really difficult. But even the World Health Organization has jumped on the “seriously though, cut back on it” bandwagon. Earlier this year, the WHO began advising people to halve the amount of sugar they consume. “The recommended sugar intake will stay at below 10% of total calorie intake a day, with 5% the target,” according to the WHO, which reportedly drew criticism from anti-sugar groups for waiting until this year to issue a guideline that was, the BBC reported, recommended back in 2002. Oops.