Sugar’s Secret Hiding Places

dried_cranberries Sugar's Secret Hiding Places

In 42 years of eating stuff, I’ve learned a simple yet inconvenient truth. Sugar hides in the places I’d least expect. Because of this, decisions I think are good end up being ill-advised. Here’s two food decisions I’ve made over the past couple weeks, thinking I was doing the right thing. I was convinced I was enjoying a natural food that contained no added sugar. Boy was I wrong.

Earlier this week I went to a local supermarket at lunch time and prepared a salad. I’ve gotten better at this over the years and learned to avoid certain diet killers like croutons, prepared tuna salad, and pudding. When I arrived at the dried cranberries, I couldn’t wait to throw a few spoonfuls on top. They’re delicious and they’re fruit, after all.

A couple hours after lunch, I experienced the symptom I usually have after eating sugar. (I’ll just keep it to myself, thanks.) I stopped and thought…where is that coming from? Then it occurred to me. “If those cranberries have sugar added to them, I’m gonna be really upset. (I used a different word, of course.)”

So there I was the next morning, Googling the ingredients of the most well-known dried cranberry product on the market. Whaddya know…up to 29 g of sugar in a serving. In fact, there are only two ingredients in this product – cranberries and sugar. Epic fail! No more dried cranberries for me.

Pistachio Drama

The other food that gave me trouble was pistachios, of all things. I’m not a big pistachio fan to begin with but I had some the other night at a friend’s house and I was hooked. These weren’t just any pistachios, mind you. They were salt and pepper pistachios and they were supremely good! I went overboard on them – it happens. I stretched the boundaries of a regular serving. (Ok, it was like two servings. All right, three.) I had “symptoms” after eating them and I was forced to investigate the nutrition makeup of these pistachios. Two grams of sugar in each serving? What?

dont_sample_the_pistachios-300x225 Sugar's Secret Hiding PlacesNot only were there two grams of sugar in each serving, but the ingredients were not limited to pistachios, salt and pepper. (Go figure.) Here are the ingredients of the particular brand I was enjoying…Dry Roasted Pistachios, Salt, Black Pepper, Sugar, Onion, Garlic, Dextrose, Autolyzed Yeast Extract. How could I have been such a boob?

I’m the guy who reads the labels before buying food. I’m the guy who gets frustrated because almost every label I read contains ingredients I shouldn’t be eating. Yet this time, I just grabbed the bag and headed for the cash register. Ugh.

I pray that you will read this and be vigilant in your grocery shopping and inquisitive when you dine out. Whether it’s sugar, wheat, nuts or saturated fat – read the labels every time. Even minimally processed foods can contain undesirable ingredients. Ask questions of your restaurant servers and if they don’t have the answers, ask for someone who does.

I learned my lesson – the hard way.

God wants me to discipline myself, to delay gratification. He is urging me to pass up what may seem good in the present for something greater down the road. He is showing me that not everything is what it appears to be. I must embrace His lessons and be formed into the person who can live according to His plan.

What is God’s message for you today?

Todd K Marsha is a Catholic husband and father living in suburban Kansas City. Through his writing charism he tells the powerful story of his conversion to the faith, his triumphs through God's grace, and his continuing struggle to live a more Christ-like life.

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