8 Tips on Hidden Sugars

Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves

Knowledge is power folks – at least in the case of food shopping and eating healthy. Inspired by the viral sugar shock images of “how many teaspoons of sugar” in a can of Coke or a Starbucks Frappuccino, I thought it would be a nice surprise to see how much sugar is in the stereotypical “healthy” foods (including that organic, dark chocolate bar from Whole Foods).

You see, the real source of your success is YOU, not any particular food or diet. Taking the time to learn the fundamentals of eating and living healthy, while also paying attention to how your body feels, is what’s going to get you over the hump, no matter what your barriers are (“no time,” “no money,” “no energy”).

For me, I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. My mom was a single parent, raised three girls on a teachers salary, and there were times where she had to make choices between what she could afford that month. No matter what, there were always healthy options on the table. One of the most upsetting things for me as a wellness professional, is seeing how our food has taken a huge left turn, loaded with garbage to decrease the cost of production, increase profit, and cause more disease and illnesses than ever before. When you ARM YOURSELF with fundamental food KNOWLEDGE – knowing how to read food labels, knowing how to shop and stock your pantry, and the basics of weekly meal planning – you will go far with very little.

Our goal is to provide you with those resources…and to be quite honest, we prefer to keep theWake the Wolves™ journey simple, beautiful, and delicious. Now let’s dive in.


4 Grams = 1 Teaspoon of Sugar


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves

Fruit-filled yogurt: With almost 5 teaspoons of sugar, you can easily ditch fruit-filled yogurt and enjoy a big bowl of plain, Greek yogurt with seasonal fresh fruit.


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves

Boxed cereal and granola: Pour 3 teaspoons of sugar on your breakfast OR NOT.


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves
Jarred Jam and Jellies: Would you like to pour about 3 teaspoons of sugar on your toast every morning? If you don’t, you can easily make your own seasonal jammy jam.


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves
Peanut Butter: Nut butters are great in and of itself. Skip the extra sugar and look for plain ol’ almond or peanut butter with nothing else in the ingredients.


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves

Whole Grain Bread: Watch out for the extra sugars (and caramel food coloring) in your whole grain breads. With almost 2 teaspoons in 1 slice, you better please read those labels!


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves
Energy Bars: If you need a quick boost, having 5 teaspoons of sugar may not be the answer.


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves
Fruit Snacks: Dried fruit and fruit snacks are quite deceiving. With almost 4 teaspoons of sugar in a fruit snack the size of ballpoint pen, you’ll probably still be hungry afterwards. Instead, enjoy a piece of fresh fruit, loaded with vitamins and fiber.


Hidden Sugars | Wake the Wolves
Dark Chocolate: Yes we love dark chocolate too, but look closely at the percentage of cacao. Shoot for 80% or higher with no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. This organic bar has about 5 teaspoons per serving. Yikes! Instead, checkout some of our favorites made by: TchoMadécasse or Alter Eco.

Kale. All Day. Err Day.

If you like this post, checkout more nutritious and healthy living tips in our latest interactive book, Kale. All Day. Err Day. It’s enhanced and interactive for a super fun, learning experience. It’s filled with a great story all about kale, how-to videos, and recipes for the busy and the hungry. Did we mention, it’s FREE…for a limited time. Hurry – check it out here. (New book coming late 2016…)


Kale. All Day. Err Day. | Wake the Wolves


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Written By


Stephanie Wong

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  • Kissley

    Didn’t know about this crazy high ratio! These are some of my favourite foods but I’ll be trying out your recipes to keep my sugar intake at a healthy level! Thanks Steph!

    • stephanie

      Hi Kissley! So great to connect with you. I know…we don’t realize how much sugar is in our food. Glad this helps a bit!

  • http://jenniferdurrant.com Jennifer

    I look at all those foods, branded as healthy and wonder what kind of snacks can I reasonably give my 6 year old son when he’s off at school? I want him to have energy, and I want it to taste good, but without all that sugar.

    • http://eatlifewhole.com Springer

      Hi Jennifer – As a mom of two, I face the sugar surge everyday as well. Pretty amazing how sugar has made it’s way into almost EVERYTHING. Best tip I have – keep it REAL. The processed stuff (go-gurts, fruit strips, flavored drinks, granola bars) is full of hidden sweetners. Instead, try plain yogurt with berries, homemade granola sweetened with honey, veggie sticks with hummus or fresh fruit kebobs. And have him help make his snacks – that way he will be super proud and ready to enjoy them at snack time.

  • Rachel

    I completely understand about hidden sugars! Being gluten-free I am in the habit of reading ingredient lists, even though I am buying gluten-free products. But I try to stay away from high sugar contents, and some GF products can be pretty bad for them.

    My question is to do with items, like Bolthouse Farms, that don’t have “added” sugar. They still have a high amount of sugar listed in the nutritional chart, so does this mean it’s natural sugars from the fruit and veggies used? Some ingredients are from concentrate, and some are fresh… but no where is there any form of sugar added in the igredients. What do you think?

    • stephanie

      Hi Rachel — really great question! I had to look up Bolthouse Farms to see what kinds of foods they made. Instead of adding “cane sugar” (what we know of as white table sugar) or “high fructose corn syrup” (a syrup derivative of corn), they do use “natural” juice (called fructose) from fruits and vegetables (fresh and concentrate), like you said. The key to this is that it’s STILL SUGAR and your body still interprets it as sugar. There’s a HUGE difference between drinking a glass of apple juice and eating an apple. Both have sugar (fructose), and both can measure 1 cup, however the apple has LOADS of fiber (skin and flesh) that will slow down the digestion and absorption of the sugar into your blood stream. The cup of apple juice doesn’t have that fiber so the sugar will enter your blood stream much faster. In a perfect world, you’ll want to avoid the sugar rush for a few reasons: 1) your energy will go up and then drop; 2) if you have any fat-loss goals, you are flooding your system with sugar that will keep you far from your goals, especially when there’s very little fiber.

      If the package says it has 29g of sugar (which one of their smoothies does), that means that it has close to 7.25 teaspoons of sugar with only 8 grams of fiber (that’s little) for an 8 oz (equal to 1 cup serving). That 8 oz is probably only 1/2 or 2/3 of the entire bottle if you look at the number of servings per bottle.

      I’m rambling, but you get the picture. Sugar is sugar in the body, especially in juice form. If you like smoothies, can you try making them at home? And maybe pre-packing them in jars? That way you can see how much fruit is going into a recipe and maybe add some greens too 🙂 There’s tons of ideas and lots of great info on the blog or even in our latest eBook (Eat Real Essentials) — http://eatrealessentials.com (sorry for the book plug, but it really is helpful).

      Thanks for the question — steph