Hidden Sources of Sugar: What’s in Your Food?

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You could be eating sugar in your salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, cough syrup, crackers, and barbeque sauce, without even being aware of it. One aspect of learning to stop eating sugar, and to end sugar cravings, is uncovering the hidden sources of sugar in your diet. Here are other names for sugar that appear in many processed foods:

Barley malt
Beet sugar
Brown sugar
Cane sugar
Carob syrup
Corn syrup solids
Corn syrup
Date sugar
Diastatic malt
Ethyl Maltol
Fruit juice
Fruit sweetener
Glucose solids
Grape sugar
High fructose corn syrup
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
Maple sugar or maple syrup
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Rice sugar
Turbinado sugar

Health food stores, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and even Costco are good places to look for sugar free options like salad dressings, ketchup, condiments, and other premade foods. At the same time, be careful. My husband came home with a case of organic tomato sauce from Costco, and it had sugar in it. Same for the organic salsa from our local health food store.

I’ve learned to read labels – even if it’s an organic food or from the health food store. I’ve also learned to make my own versions of foods that typically have sugar in them. We make our own salad dressings – super easy – pasta sauces, and Mexican sauces. We also cook – a lot. I can get tired of cooking, and I appreciate that it’s a lot of work to shop for, prepare and cook your own food. We also spend a lot of money on fresh, whole foods. At the same time, I appreciate how much better I feel eating my own cooking, as it nurtures my body.

When you’re not at home, do the best you can. In restaurants, I usually ask if sugar has been added to an entree. Restaurants are usually happy to omit it – such as the time I was served a baked yam sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. If a salad dressing has sugar in it, I ask for oil and vinegar on the side. I love eating at places like a Whole Foods buffet, where the ingredients are listed right on the dish.

Finding the hidden sources of sugar takes some effort, but over time, rest assured that it does become second nature. I eat and shop much differently than I did even 5 years ago. We can learn new ways of eating and shopping, and these new ways of caring for ourselves can become routine – routines that feed us in body, mind and spirit.

The harder part, I think, is with our heads – the feelings of deprivation, the resistance, the sadness in not eating sugar, and the frustration in having to pay so close attention to food. How do we cope with these? How do we care for them so we can make healthy, life affirming choices? This is why I wrote Overcoming Sugar Addiction, my story of creating a joyful sugar free life, and Overcoming Sugar Addiction for Life, the workbook and CDs that share the tools that helped me find inner freedom from sugar.

If you find yourself getting caught in feelings of deprivation, resentment, and unhappiness about not eating sugar, I gently invite you to use these resources. In these products, I share everything I’ve learned, so we may all find greater freedom from sugar addiction.

How to Say 'No' to Sugar

30 days of help to heal the roots of cravings, inside & out

If you compulsively crave or eat sugar for emotional support, to self soothe, or to manage stress, you may feel frustrated by a habit that feels out of your control. You don't have to feel enslaved by sugar or sugar cravings.

30 Day Lift

There's a way to heal your sugar obsession so you're no longer compulsively eating sugar, craving it, or bingeing on it – but the answer isn't what you think. It's not found in a perfect diet, will power, self control, behavior modification or even a sugar abstinence...

In a gentle transition over 30 days, learn:

  • how to say no to the impulse to binge or compulsively eat sugar
  • how to soften your fear of sugar cravings
  • how to care for your emotions rather than using sugar to numb, self soothe, or soften stress
  • and how to eat sugar with joy and delight when you consciously choose to do so
As seen on: As seen in Woman's World, MSN, ABC, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, and more!

Shift to a no sugar or less sugar diet

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About the Author:

Karly Randolph Pitman
Karly Randolph Pitman helps men & women transform food compulsions like binge eating, sugar addiction, and body obsession through compassion and connection, from the inside out. In her classes and courses, she teaches people how to say no to sugar, binge eating, and body obsession - but the answer isn't what they think. Rather than learning strategies to control or manage the compulsion itself, Karly's “heart over binge” approach heals the inner dynamics that drive it, leading to freedom, relief and hope.


  1. ClaudeA February 26, 2012 at 9:52 am - Reply

    First, I love sweets!

    Second, I love so many other natural foods that sugar is often untouched for days, sometimes weeks.

    Third, not knowing what binge-purge and sugar addiction experiences are, and wanting to be understanding as possible, I would offer that unrefined sweet-tasting foods are both beneficial to health, and when part of an avid taste-bud acumen of exploring the enormous cuisine of the world, having a balanced diet that includes natural sweets is the norm.

    And, fourth, having a craving for sugar has two sides to the story. One, and in agreement with Jill, who shares my last name, BTW!:-)), is that refined sugar causes the exact same body chemical reaction as Crack Cocaine, and thus is contributive to a vicious cycle of un-met appetite for a feeling of wholeness, which seems to be fulfilled ONLY by more refined sugar, or whatever is being abused.

    The other side to the sugar-craving story is actual dietary deficiency, which has become satisfied over a lengthy time frame, by eating sweets, especially refined sugar with its cocaine-like addiction disorder attributes, and which masks the true deficient nutrient. Refined sugar is simply an unstable, immediately assimilable “food,” that feeds all the disease organisms in one’s body BEFORE feeding healthy body tissue.

    Natural, unrefined, sugar-tasting sweet foods do not harm body metabolism, unless they are consumed outside of balanced nutrition. In fact, natural sweet foods contribute to enjoying a wider range of foods, and, combined with other foods, to make complex recipes, can contribute to a very healthy diet.

    I hope people see the true need for natural sweet foods for balanced diet, and do not get hung out to dry on overkill reactions to eating anything with natural, complex sugars. Natural sugars cannot induce addiction body chemistry. But, one who craves sweet-tasting foods is very likely to have a severe deficiency of some nutrient, and may well need a mega-dose of the nutrient to meet and overcome the conditioned craving for sweet-tasting food.

    Hope this helps some to find out the reason for their sweet craving, and to then relax and enjoy the many forms of sweet tasting, natural sugars foods.

  2. [...] though…I didnt’t know there was so many ways to cloak the same substance.  Check the alternate names for sugar…for me I just thought I was eating healthier…brrrrnt (that’s a buzzer sound).  I [...]

  3. Anonymous December 12, 2009 at 8:24 pm - Reply

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  4. Sara July 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    I thought you might like to know that there is a sugar called Sorghum. It is a molasses type of sweetener that is not used too much any more, but southerners should recognize it. I had it as a little girl so it should still be out there.

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