Is it Added Sugar?

I gotta say, I feel slightly badly about posting this incredibly yummy picture of chocolate at the beginning here. It makes my mouth water just looking at it. Here is why I put it here, as a reminder that it nutrition is mind over taste buds:

Making you aware of the recent trends in the food industry has always been a priority of mine, especially when you may think they are a positive change that will help you with good nutrition. So the question here is: Does substituting the white pulp of the cocoa bean count as added sugar in your diet?

The following is an article from That Sugar Film Website, that discusses the positive and negatives of this new trend.

“As awareness around limiting added and free sugar intake increases, food manufacturers are innovating and testing alternatives to provide (what they believe to be) a better, yet still sweetly satisfying, option for consumers to delight in.

Nestlé has recently announced it will be using the white pulp of the cocoa pod — the fleshy part that surrounds the cocoa seeds or beans — in place of “refined sugar” in some confectionery products.

Sounds great, right?

Before we start reaching for these pulp-sweetened chocolates, let’s clear up the confusion around the term “refined sugars”. 

In recent years, this term has been commonly used to differentiate between highly processed sugars, such as white table sugar, from those sugars or sweeteners some consider “healthier”, such as rice malt syrup or coconut sugar. 

But to the body, freely available sugar will still be treated and processed as sugar. Sure, there are better versions than others, but let’s not trick ourselves into believing that because a sugar or syrup is considered less refined, we can glug back a tonne of it. 

So, the removal of some “refined sugar” in a piece of Nestlé confectionery is irrelevant. It is what they replace it with we need to consider.

To our understanding, the cocoa pulp being used in place of stock standard sugar is processed into a dried fruit sugar product and maybe classified as free sugar.

This is because the powder is not an intrinsic sugar, the type of sugar found incorporated within the structure of intact or whole fruit and vegetables, or sugars from milk.Intrinsic sugars we are not concerned with (we absolutely endorse eating whole veg and fruit); it is the added and free sugars we need to keep an eye out for.

The original cocoa pulp, which contains intrinsic sugar, is dried and made into a powdered sugar alternative via a patented technique. It this processing that sees the sugars fall under the definition of free sugars, which includes those originally and naturally present in fruit and veg but processed into a powder, juice, concentrate, purees, and extruded veg and fruit products.2

Nestlé has stated that by using the powdered pulp, overall sugar content is reduced by 40%. That is a plus, along with claims Nestlé is using the cocoa pulp, among other initiatives across their food manufacturing processes, in an attempt to reduce food waste.

This is great from an environmental and business perspective as currently, a fair proportion of the pulp is wasted in the chocolate-making process. 

But this doesn’t make the chocolate they make a ‘health food’ at the end of the day, and if you are going to have some, such products should be treated as a once-in-a-while food.  And as with all other free and added sugars, consumption should still be limited to 6 teaspoons (25g) per day.”

Article By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med)

What happens when you reduce sugar in your child’s diet for 9 DAYS…

Kids and sugar intake

If this happens in a child’s body..just imagine what significant and quick results occur in your body!  The recommended daily sugar intake for adults is 9 tsps. for men and 6 tsps. for women.



Here is a quick repost of a clean recipe for “Cream of Something Soup”…probably in a recipe on your Thanksgiving table.

No more canned Cream Of Something Soup!


Thank you for your continued interest in nutrition and my advice.  I appreciate each and every one of you.


How much sugar is hiding in your favorites?

Had to share this article forward, since it speaks to a topic near and dear to my heart, sugar.  It is a love/hate relationship, mostly love.  Isn’t it with most of us?

Mindfulness is what I encourage.  Be aware of the bazillion sources of sugar in your food and be consumer savvy when it comes to reading the labels (misleading, see below).   Take a peek at some recent examples sent in by readers of That Sugar Film Blog….



“We recently reached out to you all, asking for pictures of labels on food packaging you have found to be misleading regarding health claims and sugar content.

And what a response!

Thank you to all who contributed – you have been amazing!

Here are some examples of what was found:

Product: Tropicana Trop50 Orange fruit drink
Claim: 50% less sugar & calories than the leading orange juice.
Sugar content: 10g / 250ml serve
The concern: Firstly, what is the ‘leading orange juice’? And do fewer calories necessarily mean it is better for us?

The amount of sugar in a standard Tropicana OJ has been partly replaced in this healthified offering from PepsiCo by stevia and maltodextrin. Even so, 1 cup of Trop50 provides 2.5tsp of added sugar – over a third of the recommended limit (for health benefits).

The ingredient list includes added sweeteners and flavours, which seem at odds with the idea this product is better for you (and will help you “make friends with your miniskirt”). At least the premium Tropicana OJ is only orange juice!

Despite promoting itself as the healthier juice cousin you’d be better off eating an orange. At least an orange doesn’t need corn maltodextrin to make it palatable.

Product: Ocean Spray Reduced Sugar Craisins
Claim: 50% less sugar; Excellent fibre source; One serve of Reduced Sugar Craisins meets 50% of you daily recommended fruit needs.
Sugar content: 14g sugar/40g serve.
The concern: Okay – the added sugar content is less than regular Craisins, but 3.5 tsp are delivered in one serve, and artificial sweeteners have been added into the mix.

The fibre content has gone up…because a soluble fibre has been added to mix. It isn’t like the naturally occurring stuff from the fruit managed to explode in quantity.

Finally, to claim it is suitable as one of the two serves of fruit is dangerous. A fresh piece of fruit contains water, which leave you fuller and eating less fruit sugar overall. Additionally, fresh fruit does not contain added sugars. Not – I repeat – not a good alternative to a handful of berries or an apple.

Product: Pop Tops
Claim: 30% less sugar; No artificial sweeteners, No artificial colours, No artificial flavours.
Sugar content: 15.3g/250ml serve
The concern: Sure it may have less sugar than its old school sugared up formula, but this still packs an added sugar punch with nearly 4tsp per serve – the maximum of what we want our littlies to consume in a day. Not ideal considering our kids are most likely to be consuming such beverages.


Product: Uncle Tobies Roll Ups
Claim: No artificial colours or flavours; Made with real fruit, 3 Star health rating.
Sugar content: 2.8g/15.6.g serve.
The concern: The overall sugar content isn’t horrific. However, sugar has been added, but why considering the concentrated fruit paste rammed in? Fruit straps when made at home can be nothing but fruit.

Looking closely at the ingredient list, one of the final ingredients is ‘Vegetables and Plants’. I suppose that is meant to make us feel better!

Roll Ups also contain an array of highly processed wheat, corn and oil in amongst the sticky fruit mess, which is not ideal. And this stuff can get firmly wedged into the teeth wreaking all kinds of dental havoc!

Product: Nakd Crunch Mix wholefood bars
Claim: Protein packed; Filling and yummy; No added sugar; Wheat, gluten & dairy free; 100% natural ingredients.
Sugar content: 13.4g/30g bar
The concern: The sugar content from this product is mostly from the dried fruit such as dates and raisins, with a little added sugar from apple juice concentrate.

Whilst technically not an added sugar, fructose and glucose from dried fruits can easily be consumed in high amounts due to the lack of water content provided in the fresh fruit. Fortunately, this product does contain some healthy protein and fat from nuts, which can help mitigate the influx of simple sugar into the blood stream.

One bar provides 8-10% of recommended daily protein intake. I would think this is more fruit packed than protein packed.

Holy wow! Overall, I am bothered. Are you bothered?

Scientifically supported

Studies have found that the food industry can quite easily obscure the not-so-great elements of our pre-made foods with claims of being ‘healthy’ or ‘natural’.1 The consequence is we unknowingly over consume excess added, refined, nutritionally devoid foods and sugars.

How confusing! And kind of mean, don’t you think?

Always look beneath the surface

We believe we are doing the right thing, and place faith in the manufacturers. The reality is we need to educate ourselves, and dig only just below the surface to get a real indication of what we are shoving in our gobs.

Ultimately, as we always bang on about here at that sugar, if you can focus our purchasing and munching efforts on real whole fresh foods, then you are onto the best thing!

By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med.)”

The Sugar “Low Down” on Favored Cocktails:

I have had many questions from clients recently about alcohol and a healthy lifestyle.  Most of you know there are a few benefits to alcohol in moderation.  Indulging in a glass of wine or a beer occasionally has proven health benefits.  Most likely you have read about it’s positive influence on heart health, but there are other benefits too.  Here is an example of one study touting the benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol.  Berkley: Alcohol beyond heart health

What is important to keep in mind is how your cocktails are metabolized in your body.  Simply think of all alcoholic drinks as carbohydrates in liquid form.  Here is an interesting chart from “That Sugar Guide” to help reveal the true metabolic value in some favored cocktails in terms of teaspoons of sugar.


To clarify further, moderate consumption of alcohol translates into 1-2 servings for men and 1 serving for women per day.  Serving size means 8oz. beer, 4 oz of wine, meaning 1/2 of the serving in most restaurants.  If you are trying to watch your wasteline, I recommend 1 serving per week.  Even though this news may be disappointing to some, it does not mean that alcohol is off the table completely for anyone.  Celebrate, CHEERS!

Refined Sugar vs. Saturated Fat – new research

The tables have definitely turned over the last century. Goes against all logic that sugar would be worse for you than butter, right? Complicated but here is a window into the research.  This does NOT mean that butter is “good” for you now.  Everything in moderation!  The key here is to pick your sweets and fats where you REALLY REALLY want them, not everywhere and all the time.  Whole food is the best choice for the majority of time.  Here’s the science…

Refined Sugar vs. Saturated Fat: What’s More Likely To Cause Coronary Heart Disease?

Heart Disease 

With coronary heart disease (CHD) killing more than 370,000 people every year in the United States, a team of researchers from Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and Albert Einstein College of Medicine were interested in seeing what’s worse for the heart — saturated fats or refined sugars? Their findings, published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, argues that, after years of believing fat was worse, it could have been sugar all along.

“We now have more than a half century of data as well as increased understanding of how nutrition impacts the body and specifically coronary heart disease,” said the study’s co-author James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at the American Heart Institute, in a press release. “After a thorough analysis of the evidence it seems appropriate to recommend dietary guidelines shift focus away from recommendations to reduce saturated fat and toward recommendations to avoid added sugars. Most importantly recommendations should support the eating of whole foods whenever possible and the avoidance of ultra-processed food.”

The research team put its theory to the test and found after just a few weeks of participants consuming a diet high in refined (processed) sugar, those with CHD began to experience several signs of heart abnormalities, like higher levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL (bad cholesterol), and lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol), all of which increase their risk of heart disease. Meanwhile, saturated fats increased levels of LDL, but in doing so also increased levels of HDL, making their negative impact on the heart less dangerous compared to sugar. Ultimately, this led researchers to conclude in their study that “sugar consumption, particularly in the form of refined added sugars, are a greater contributor to CHD than saturated fats.” 

In addition, consuming large quantities of processed sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup and table sugar can lead to leptin resistance — leptin is a hormone responsible for regulating normal body weight. Diets high in processed sugars promote type 2 diabetes, which also lead to a much greater risk for CHD compared to patients maintaining a healthy diet.

Saturated fats have been demonized for years, subsequently leading many consumers to avoid animal products like red meat, poultry, and dairy. These types of fat were first blamed for causing high rates of heart disease in the 1950s, when scientist Ancel Keys observed those who ate diets high in saturated fats also had higher rates of heart disease. But those same people were also eating a lot of refined sugar. DiNicolantonio pointed out this is the reason why past studies, which the longstanding guidelines have been based on, found saturated fats had a negative impact on heart health. The studies were largely observational, however, and didn’t involve intensive investigation. Had past researchers conducted proper studies to determine the cause of CHD, they would’ve realized sooner that refined sugar impacts risk more. Today, troves of evidence-based research have overwhelmed the weaker observational studies, revealing Keys was wrong all along.

Most recently, a study published in the journal Circulation, found drinking sugary drinks each day increased dangerous fat in the body and increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Another study, published in the journal Heart, found people who drank at least two sugary drinks a day increased their risk of heart failure by 25 percent.

Source: O’Keefe JH, DiNicolantonio JJ, and Lucan SC. The Evidence for Saturated Fat and For Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. 2016.

Leaving Sugar Behind with Pomegranate Seeds

This is a tough one for most of us, reducing or cutting the sugar in our eating.  It is worth it!  There are ways to make it easier and I am sharing one with you today.  Sometimes it is simply finding an alternative way to get the sweetness in your life.

I have recently revisited pomegranate seeds.  I have avoided them for years due to the seasonal unavailability and the difficulty in getting to them (literally, the seeds are a bear to extract from the peel).  Thanks to a few hacks, one being Costco shopping, these sweet little jewels are available now more than ever.  They are now available in the refrigerated section at Costco, already removed from the peel and in small serving sizes.  I ate up my last supply too quickly before I got a picture to share, but I will take one and post it as soon as I refresh my supply from Costco.

If Costco is not a place you frequent, there is still hope!  Purchase the whole fruit from your grocer and here is a kitchen hack to make extracting those little beads of sweetness easy!  Wooden Spoon Trick.  It literally takes no time at all!  Try it.

Here is my favorite recipe to share..a new salad to help you leave sugar behind The Transition Salad


That Sugar Film: Changing Perceptions of “Healthy” Food

In honor of National Candy Day, I am posting a review of a documentary called “That Sugar Film.”  It includes several points I emphasize about hidden sugars.  What is labeled as “healthy” may not be healthy at all.  It is amazing what 60 days of eating only hidden sources of sugar can do to our bodies.  I’ve added a few comments in blue.

“I am an advocate for a healthier life, for greener living, and for putting consumer dollars behind authentic, responsible brands. Me too!  As they say, freedom of choice and informed decisions comes from freedom of information…” Being informed allows us to make decisions about where we want sugar in our lives and where we don’t.

That Sugar Film by Damon Gameau

Damon had not eaten sugar for three years. Under the guidance of a team of professionals, he eats a high sugar diet of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days. (By the way, 40 teaspoons is just above the daily teenage average.) He does this without consuming any soda, chocolate, ice cream, or candy. Rather, he only eats foods marketed as “healthy” that actually contain hidden sugars, such as low fat yogurt, granola bars, fruit juices, and cereals.

Let’s just say that he hits the daily 40-teaspoon mark with ease.  Sadly, so do most of us.  You really have to be a savvy consumer to avoid hidden sugars, especially now!  Why?  Because they are even more hidden in labels than ever before.  Did you know there are over 300 names for sugars? 


At the experiment’s conclusion, the team looks at changes in Damon’s blood sugar, heart, liver, and the liver’s production of fat. The results make it clear that too much sugar is quite clearly detrimental to our health, to our weight, and to our well being. When they say that we are what we eat, they really aren’t kidding.

Interestingly, his calorie intake is almost exactly the same as it was before the experiment. The take home message is that a calorie is not a calorie!  We will be seeing more about this in the news for sure.  Sugar does not have a lot of calories, though calories from sugar apparently behave very differently than calories derived from other sources. In fact, a recent article in the British Medical Journal stated that sugar, not physical inactivity, is creating the obesity epidemic.

Did you know that if you remove all of the packaged goods containing added sugar from supermarket shelves, just 20% of items would remain? It turns out that Damon spent the same amount ($$$) at the supermarket both before and during the experiment. It is not more of a financial hardship, as some might assume, to purchase truly healthy fare than it is to purchase sugar-filled products that are simply marketed as healthy.

Through his lighthearted and informative journey, Damon highlights the inner workings of the sugar industry, the harm that sugar can do to the body, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. He looks into the manipulation of food companies in placing sugar into their products and ways that companies seek to keep the dangers of sugar from the public. Considering that sugar intake can be linked to Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, brain dysfunction, and higher death rates, it is not surprising that many food companies want to keep that information away from us.

This past March, in fact, the University of California at Can Francisco broke news about the finding of documents revealing that the sugar industry worked closely with the National Institutes of Health in the 1960s and ‘70s to develop a federal research program focused on approaches other than sugar reduction to prevent tooth decay in American children.  Part of being a savvy consumer is knowing who is funding the research and headlines you are reading.  

You might think that a documentary about sugar would hold your attention for very long. Yet That Sugar Film will forever change the way you think about so called “healthy” food. It is entertaining, well done, and an informative look at a serious health concern.


That Sugar Film does not insist that people should quit sugar. It investigates how sugar has infiltrated our diet and culture, how it can affect our bodies. So if you have a body, if you have children with bodies, or if you have a significant other with a body, then I highly recommend that you watch this film.  Thanks to Damon Gameau for sharing his film and his discoveries about sugar in a way that does not force his views on anyone else. After all, freedom of choice can only come with freedom of information.”

If you haven’t seen the film yet, it is now available to rent and view online.  Google “That Sugar Film!”  I am here to help you make sense of the senselessness of hidden sugars.  Grab your friends, and let’s do a small group session, online or in person, to help you gain direction and perspective with your eating habits. or

Which has the most sugar?

This weekend at an event, I posed this question:

Which of these has the most sugar?


The contenders were:

  • 1 medium apple

  • 3/4 cup blueberries (approx)

  • 1 serving of Candy Corn (measly 12 corns)

What’s your guess?  Before you read on, give us your guess in the comments section.
Did you add your response?  What are you waiting for?  Join the debate.




Okay, you are clear to read on….The most common response was the candy corn.  Some began to question their answer and after some thought, changed it to the Apple.  Then there were the ones that felt it was a trick question and went for the blueberries, just because it didn’t seem like the obvious answer.
Now you really want to weigh in, right?  The comment section is open for your vote.




Ironically, all three have about the same sugar content, 28-30 grams.  Here are several things to consider.
  1. Which has the largest quantity in the serving size?  The apple is the choice for quantity of food.  It has the largest serving size for the sugar content.
  2. Which is the most nutrient dense option?  There are two here, the apple and the blueberries.  Both have fiber still intact (peel) and are full of quality nutrients and vitamins that will satisfy cravings, keep you fuller longer and give your body the “most bang for your buck.”  A side benefit is the fact that these added nutrients will reduce the impact on your blood sugar.  When you mix these all together, your blood sugar does not SPIKE as high, thus no downsliding in energy later.
  3. What type of sugar is in each?  NONE of the three contain white, processed, sugar.  Yes it is true, the candy corn are made with honey. The fruits are primarily natural fructose.  So less processed versions of the dreaded “sugar.”  Your body will breakdown all three to glucose for cell energy, however, the candy corn will cause the largest spike in blood sugar since it doesn’t contain any other valuable nutrients to slow down the sugar absorption.  Hint, energy low the quickest, fastest burnoff also which means you will be hungry much sooner.
This is just the “tip of the iceberg” in Titanic terms for nutrition.
If you would like to find out more about sugar and how to manage it, especially the hidden sources, I am here to help.


That Sugar Film – Summer 2015


Perhaps you have already seen the documentary “Supersize Me” about a man’s journey through eating only McDonald’s food for a month and documenting the physical and physiological changes he experienced.

Let me introduce you to “That Sugar Film”

“That Sugar Film” is a similar endeavor, only this time the director, Damon Gameau , decides to target sugars.  He spends 60 days eating only hidden sugars in foods.  Keep in mind he avoids the obvious sources of sugars like ice cream and candy.  Instead he targets processed foods that contain various forms of sugar like cereals, granola bars, drinks, and the like.  He eats the same number of calories he ate prior to the documentary, so no calorie increase in his diet, just more of it from sugar.  Check out how fast he feels and sees the impact on his health.  Makes you think about where the hidden sugars are in your diet.  Here is a recent review of the film in New Zealand.

Can’t wait to go see this film in it’s entirety this Summer!

Sugar is working against you! Don’t let it!

Uncovered this article a few months ago.  I am always interested in how sugar and a heavy sugar diet effects our bodies.  You may have seen measurements of how much sugar is hidden in the products we buy and consume.  It is not in the obvious places but in the most hidden spots (for example, see the sources the author refers to below).  I am not even referring to only “white sugar” but the nutrients your body treats as sugar that can overwhelm your blood sugar.  It is important to be aware of all of the things we eat that our bodies treat like “sugar” and limit them.  Nutrient dense foods that are colorful, and packed with vitamins and minerals are the best choices.  Contact me if you want to learn more at  I would love to help you uncover these that are sabotaging your efforts in your own food choices.
In the meantime, check out this Australian study that is eye opening  about how our children are eating these days thinking they are making the healthy choices.

Following in the footsteps of Morgan Spurlock, who ate only McDonald’s food for one month in the film Super Size Me, an Australian man has undergone a sugar-heavy diet for 60 days to explore the ingredient’s impact on his health.

In the upcoming That Sugar Film, Damon Gameau, a filmmaker and TV actor, vows to follow a strict diet of “healthy,” low-fat food with high sugar content, reported.

Within three weeks, the formerly healthy Gameau became moody and sluggish. A doctor gave him the shocking diagnosis: He was beginning to develop fatty liver disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most severe outcome for fatty liver disease is liver failure.

“I had no soft drink, chocolate, ice cream or confectionery,” Gameau told Yahoo. “All the sugars that I was eating were found in perceived healthy foods, so low-fat yogurts, and muesli bars, and cereals, and fruit juices, sports drinks … these kind of things that often parents would give their kids thinking they’re doing the right thing.”

RELATED: Family goes for a year without sugar

Gameau reportedly consumed 40 teaspoons of sugar per day, or slightly more than the average teenager worldwide, according to According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of sugar daily.

The AHA’s daily recommendations for sugar consumption are 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

In That Sugar Film, Gameau observeed that the additive impacted his physical and mental health. Doctors called his mental functioning “unstable,” and the father-to-be reportedly put on nearly four inches of visceral fat around his waist. He was on the fast track to obesity.

Gameau said his sugar-laden diet left him feeling hungry, no matter how much he ate.

His final meal— which consisted of a juice, a jam sandwich, a bar, and a handful of other snacks— is similar to an ordinary child’s school lunchbox.

“Sadly, it was very easy to do and fitted comfortably into the small plastic container,” Gameau wrote on his blog documenting his experiment.

“The last meal was for all the people out there, especially parents, who are led to believe they are doing the right and healthy thing for their children. They are making an effort yet are horribly let down by the lack of integrity in marketing and packaging strategies.”

Gameau told that the experiment’s findings don’t suggest a need to completely cut sugar— but rather a need for more awareness about how much sugar has been added to perceptibly healthy food.

“Sugar’s now in 80 percent of the processed food we’re eating,” he said. “If we can remove that, that’s the first step towards making a change.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population, have diabetes. In adults, type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed diabetes cases.  Research has shown that sugary drinks are linked to type 2 diabetes.

Consuming excess added sugar is also associated with a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the CDC. Heart disease accounts for one in four deaths in the United States, or about 600,000 annual deaths.

That Sugar Film will be released in Australian movie theaters in February 2015. A U.S. release date has not been listed on the film’s website.