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8 Clear Signs Your Sweet Tooth Is Out of Control

Think you eat healthy? These everyday habits suggest you may be OD'ing on sugar—the insidious substance driving the national epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.


You love your strawberry-kiwi yogurt

It’s true that yogurt has protein and probiotics—both great qualities. But the kind of yogurt you choose makes a big difference. A fruit-flavored yogurt from Yoplait has 18 grams of sugar—over 4 teaspoons. If you like to add toppings to your yogurt, you could be adding even more sugar. For instance, a quarter-cup of granola has about 6 grams of sugar, adding another 1½ teaspoons of sugar to your “healthy” breakfast. Reach for plain Greek yogurt instead and add your own fresh fruit and nuts. It has much more protein than the fruity varieties, and only about three grams of sugar per half-cup serving. Here are healthy breakfast mistakes you might be making.


You’re smitten with Starbucks

Coffee itself does not have any sugar, but all bets are off with the specialty drinks at Starbucks. A grande latte flavored with syrup comes with 35 grams of sugar, or about 8 teaspoons. A grande Chai Tea Latte will set you back 42 grams of sugar. That’s 10 teaspoons! For perspective, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to about 9 teaspoons per day for men, about 6 teaspoons per day for women. Go for black coffee, or add just a dash of milk or cream to avoid the sugar bombs in blended coffee drinks. If you’re craving more flavor, try a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon—or both! Neither has any sugar by itself.


You trick out your oatmeal

Oatmeal is another potentially healthy breakfast option—a great source of fiber and protein, and a proven cholesterol-buster—unless you buy the flavored packets, which can have as many as 12 grams of sugar per serving! You might also be ruining perfectly nutritious plain oats with sugary add-ons: A tablespoon of brown sugar delivers 12 grams of sugar, and just a third of a cup of raisins will set you back 24 grams of sugar. Add a quarter cup of diced apple and a dash of cinnamon instead, for a manageable 3 grams of natural sugar. Check out these other highly tasty, low-sugar oatmeal toppers.


You’re packing trail mix

A handful of nuts is a great way to lower your blood sugar, provide your body with a protein punch, and keep you full with healthy fats. But if you like your nuts spiked with chocolate chips and dried cherries or pineapple, and you’re carrying packs of it in your bag at all times to eat whenever your energy flags (which is several times a day), you’re taking in a lot of added sugar. (And there’s probably no trail-walking involved, if we had to guess.) A quarter-cup of almonds has just 2 grams of sugar, but a quarter-cup of commercial trail mix can have 12 grams or more of sugar. Keep it simple, stick with the nuts, the best disease-fighter already in your pantry.


You stock your desk and car with granola bars

You’re trying to be healthy, so you reach for an oat-based granola bar. Oats are healthy, right? Well, yes. But not when in the form of a granola bar. A 24-gram granola bar can have as much as 7 grams of sugar in it. That’s almost 2 teaspoons of sugar! What’s worse, the lack of protein and healthy fats won’t satisfy your hunger for long. If you’re looking for a low-sugar food to chow on the go, try making your own granola with these sugar-savvy recipes, or grab a cheese stick—many brands have no added sugar (check the label).


You refuel with energy drinks

If you suck down fluorescent-colored sports drinks the way other people casually sip iced tea—and you’re not training for a marathon or playing a two-hour soccer match, you should know that you’re literally guzzling sugar. An 8-ounce can of Red Bull has a shocking 74 grams of sugar, or over 17 teaspoons! A 20-ounce Gatorade has 32 grams of sugar. If you need a caffeine boost without the sugar hike, grab an unsweetened black or green tea instead.


You put ketchup on everything

Might as well just sprinkle those scrambled eggs with sugar. A single tablespoon of regular ketchup has four grams of sugar—about the same as a chocolate chip cookie! And if you’re hefting that industrial size bottle, you’re likely pouring out more than one tablespoon at a time. Add two to three more tablespoons—for fries and a burger—and you could be up to 12 grams of sugar without even noticing. Commercial pasta sauces are no better—sugar is often the first or second ingredient after tomatoes. That means that a mere cup of pasta sauce will often set you back between 12 and 24 grams of sugar. For ketchup, pasta sauce, and other savory condiments, scan the label for a jar that doesn’t contain sugar, or has just a trace amount.


You’re generous with salad dressing

In trying to make good dietary decisions, you grab a salad for lunch. But wait—don’t put on that salad dressing just yet. Sweet salad dressings, like French or raspberry vinaigrette, often have 6 grams of sugar or more per two tablespoon serving—that’s over a teaspoon. Opt for drizzling oil and vinegar over your salad instead for a low-sugar option. These salad recipes will make lunch exciting again.

Alison Wilkinson
Ali Wilkinson lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, three small children, and two large cats. She is a lawyer, writer, knitter, runner and over-consumer of Nutella. Her writing has appeared on Red Book, Scary Mommy, Elephant Journal and Babble, among others. She writes about parenting and other things that make her laugh (and cry) at her blog Run, Knit, Love.

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