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greek-style-yoghurt

Greek style yoghurt vs greek yoghurt

So the question is do you know the difference between greek and greek style yoghurt?

I’ve used yoghurt as a sugar busting staple for years now. I put it in low sugar smoothies; mix it up with sugar-free granola and/or fruit; and quite often eat it as a dessert with a few cacao nibs sprinkled over the top.

So one day I figured I wanted to know the difference between greek style yoghurt and greek yoghurt and understand the differences.  So here’s the lowdown and a few other greek style yoghurt facts to keep you in the know.

greek style yoghurt

Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

A while back I went for a super healthy lunch with yoghurt pro Alison White from Total Greek (also known as FAGE).

We chatted all things yoghurt, life and sugar-free foods whilst drinking a glass of sparking wine ha!

greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

Here are some handy Greek yoghurt facts you may not know that will help you make informed decisions without getting lured or misled by marketing or packaging.

  • A really thick yoghurt has either got there in two ways:

1) it was either strained a few times to remove the whey or

2) it has had milk protein powder, starch or other additives added to it to get there. The easiest way really to determine this is to look at the ingredients list.

  • In the UK there is a difference between ‘Greek yoghurt’ and ‘Greek Style Yoghurt’. Greek yoghurt now has to be authentically made in Greece. Greek style yoghurt is just made to seem like it and can be thickened by either one of the two processes above.
  • In America, anything can be called ‘Greek’ – basically this whole Greek style yoghurt thing in the UK is the result of a big court case between Total and Chobani. Total (or FAGE) yoghurt is at present the leading authentic Greek yoghurt brand on the market.

This post isn’t sponsored FAGE UK, I simply wanted to share this because I think it’s quite useful to know and found it personally interesting. Buying sugar-free yoghurts can often be utterly confusing and I know I get a lot of questions about it via e-mail.

I do personally think Total Greek are one brand with a very good quality product for lower sugar living. They also have some superb healthy (& many sugar-free) yoghurt infused recipes on their website too – these sweet potato fries with rosemary garlic yoghurt dip being one of my favourites.

However there are other cheaper Greek yoghurt style yoghurts made by the supermarket brands that are still sugar-free and healthy.

I’ll also mention that have the Total Greek Cookbook which generally has a great selection of yoghurt infused recipes. There are some that use sugar though too so you have to filter through a little.

The difference between Greek yoghurt vs. natural yoghurt

Now you’ve got Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt sorted, here’s a video I made explaining the difference between Greek yoghurt and natural. Yes let’s go yoghurt crazy today!

What’s worth remembering is that when it comes to managing hunger, Greek yoghurt has a higher protein count – 10g per 100g compared to 5-6g in natural yoghurt – thus it will keep you fuller for longer.

Also remember that about 4-7g of the sugars listed in yoghurt are the natural lactose sugar, which doesn’t count as sugar (of the fructose kind) on a sugar-free or lower sugar diet.

Always check for added sugar in the ingredients list though.

greek style yoghurt protein

My transition off sugary yoghurts

In my former sugary years I used to eat a ‘Muller Light’ or low fat fruity yoghurt pretty much every day, sometimes 2-3 a day.

I did this for literally years.

A fruity yoghurt was often my ‘healthy’ post meal sweet fix – anyone used it the same?

At University I would chose the cheapest and – shame-shock-horror – I even used to buy those Sainsbury’s basics low fat fruity yoghurts at one point. Yes I did, sins confessed!

When I moved to London I would buy Muller Lights, Shapers, Activia brands or whatever was on special offer. I am still in awe of the entire supermarket aisle that is awash with colourful wide variety of sugar laden yoghurts.

When people today ask me why I started Happy Sugar Habits, I often say it’s because I was simply mortified at discovering some of the yoghurts I loved had a shocking 15g of sugar in them and no-one back then was talking about this.

greek-style-yoghurt

So I wrote a blog post on the lower sugar yoghurts and things went from there.

These days I don’t touch fruity sugar-filled yoghurts – they just don’t appeal. Of all the sugary things out there, I really don’t miss these. A mouthful of one every now and then confirms this to me – they are way too sweet, sickly and taste a bit artificial. I would rather drizzle some brown rice syrup or good quality honey on some full fat natural yoghurt to get something a bit sweeter when I do fancy it.

Do you eat yoghurt and what with? Breakfast? Dessert? Any more questions just hit me up with a comment below.

How much sugar: Pimms, cereal, yoghurt & Nakd bars (not together!)

So this week instead of churning out something new, I decided to refresh and update a couple of old articles that are my most popular and most read.

If you fancy getting some quick sugar knowledge and a practical approach around yoghurts, cereal, Nakd bars and Pimms then click on one of the links below to take you to the updated article:

Reading and re-writing these articles was quite eye opening to me in that it made me realise there was a time where I was possibly a little fixated on sugar more that I like to advocate these days. However, it was a necessary step I needed to go through on my health changes and being an analytical numbers person, I quite enjoyed getting into the detail.

What I will say is get your head quickly around where there’s more sugar and become aware, but avoid becoming overly fixated for an extended period of time. I don’t advocate counting calories and I also think to have a healthy relationship and food long term, you shouldn’t be counting sugar grams either.

Read: The 5 ways counting calories is working against you

Respect the stage that you’re at and if you want to be guided through the process then don’t forget the free video training you can get here that walks you through my approach to this.

Are there any other foods you’d like me to apply my analytical number crunching too? Comment below and I’ll look into it 🙂

Laura x

 

Make sure you know about these supermarket sugar shockers

Do you get confused by the sugar in different products? Maybe you just don’t know what you’re looking for half the time or become baffled with all the hidden sugar that’s suddenly around you. Not sure if you’re aware of all the sugar shockers out there?

Today I’ve picked a motley selection of food products from the supermarket shelves and picked their sugar content apart, giving you an expert view and insight to help you get up to speed pronto (You = sugar whiz after reading this!).

Can you guess the total amount of sugar in these products?

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On the weekend I was exhibiting at The Fit Festival in Edinburgh (with the help of my lovely mum!). As my first exhibition experience I decided to run a ‘guess the total sugar’ competition of the following products. Below is the lowdown on each with some shocking numbers and stats. Before you read on, grab a bit of a paper and have a guess yourself (total grams in all of these products together). Let me know if you got it right or were close. We had guesses from ranging 6g to 1975g – mental!

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M&S Mojito Juice Drink 750ml

10.3% sugar, 25.8g per 250ml serving, 77.4g total

This is pretty shocking considering it’s a ‘refreshing non alcoholic drink’. Seriously, I’d almost prefer you to have a small alcoholic one! When it comes to drinks, always calculate the amount per the entire bottle. Everybody drinks different servings, quite often they polish the lot. Slash your sugar intake dramatically and crave less by removing all sweet drinks from your diet. If out & cocktails are on the cards, ask a charming barman or barwoman to half the sugar they put in your freshly made alcoholic mojito.

M&S Lemon & Lime Sparkling Water

0.04% sugar, 2g per 500ml bottle total

I stuck this in there as a contrast to highlight a few things. Although seemingly low in sugar, this drink is chemical cocktail. Three E-numbers, a number of acids and sucralose (a commonly used artificial sweetener). Consuming these chemicals you are taking a gamble on your own health as we don’t really know what they are doing to us. Studies have shown they are likely to make you overcompensate calorie-wise (& likely sugar-wise) later down the line which isn’t great for both control and weight management.

Oat So Simple Original Instant Porridge Pot

11g total

My mum wanted this for breakfast and was shocked to discover that the plain variety had so much added sugar. You’d expect the Golden Syrup flavour of course to be sweet, but 11g in the plain one? Yep, because this is essentially just oats and water, they have to add sugar or else it would taste like cardboard. Remember that these pots didn’t even exist a few years ago, you just got up 10 mins earlier to eat breakfast. If you are caught out, a Pret A Manger plain porridge pot is a better bet because it’s made with milk and can (by some) be eaten without a shed load of sugar or topping.

Sainsbury’s Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Sauce 120g

27.4% sugar, 16.4g per serving, 32.8g total

Although I wouldn’t class this as completely ‘invisible sugar’ because it’s called ‘sweet & sour’, this is still pretty shocking. With a 4g per teaspoon, you’re talking 4 teaspoons in your stir fry main meal. Extremely processed with a very long list of ingredients. I would warn anyone off a sauce like this and encourage them to look for a lower sugar one if they must. Even better make your own stir fry sauce with ingredients like sesame oil, fresh ginger, soy sauce, lime juice and chilli.

Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself Honey Mustard Dressing 250ml

1.7g sugar per serving, 26.75g total

OK only an ‘orange’ traffic light when it comes to sugar but completely unnecessary. I don’t even think these dressings taste very nice (I used to eat them in my low fat days). Salad dressings can be full fat amazing – think quality ingredients like virgin olive oil, fresh lemon & lime juice, apple cider vinegar, tahini, creamy yoghurt, good seasoning. The ‘Be Good to Yourself – less than 3% fat’ is just a low fat marketing ploy. Don’t fall for it. Fat is not bad for you, end of.

Activia Fig Yoghurts 4x125g

18% sugar, 16.6g per pot, 66.4g total

Even I was shocked at these. Normally the bigger snack size pots or Muller Lights come out about 16g per pot, but these smaller ones really packed in the sugar for their size. Fruity yoghurts are a killer. Full fat or low fat, if they’re fruity flavoured they’re very likely sugar laden. Opt for natural or greek yoghurts (video blog here for the difference between these two) and make sure you know the difference between ‘Greek’ and Greek Style (recent blog article on this here).

Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes 200g

55.8% sugar, 27.9g per cake, 111.6g total

These used to be a real favourite of mine. My mum said she didn’t want to know how much sugar was in them (sorry mum). They are a sugar shocker because essentially they are like a whole bunch of grapes dried and squashed up, then coated in a thin layer of butter pastry. Two kind of good things with these 1) they are a very obvious treat (not something you’d be eating often like the yoghurts) and 2) at least most of the sugar is natural (but it’s still very high in fructose and will lead to serious sweet cravings). Lots of other oils and ingredients in these I’m not keen on putting into ones body too often. These were also sneaky because they had no weight on the packet so it was hard to work out. I actually got the clerk to weigh them and tell me!

Tower Gale Scottish Oatcakes 300g (from Lidl)

2% sugar, 0.3g per oatcake, 6g total

This is an example of hidden sugar as it’s listed on the ingredients probably without you thinking that these would contain any sugar. However there really isn’t too much per oatcake so although it’s not ideal, it’s also not worth worrying about in terms of it bringing on cravings. I’d also say that if you replace your daily digestive with one of these then that’s a great lower sugar substitution. Again, these have a longer list of ingredients and some oils that I don’t favour so have a look for oatcake brands with the lowest number of ingredients e.g. Narins or ones in a specialist health food shop.

If you liked this, there are videos more guidance around shopping as part of the Mentor Me Off Sugar 6-week sugar detox. This programme will save you serious time and effort!

Anyway….drumroll….

Total sugar in EVERYTHING 334g!!

Surprised by the total? Leave a comment below on which ones of these shocked you the most or if you used to (or still do) eat any of these regularly?

 

Sweet potato & coconut breakfast bake

Want to keep your breakfasts egg based but fancy something sweet? Look no further I have a sweet potato breakfast bake recipe for you that will fit the bill.

I posted an omelette variation of this recipe over a year ago and it was when I was playing around with Stevia brands (namely PureVia, which for the record, I don’t recommend). I’ve been cooking and refining it ever since and with the help of rich creamed coconut, I’ve found a way to sweeten it naturally.

This recipe makes three portions so you can cook it one morning or weekend and then either eat it cold if you’re in a grab and go rush or just head it in the microwave quickly. It’s really delicious when served with some creamy full fat yoghurt or coconut milk. You could even have it as a dessert if you like!

Sweet potato breakfast bake

IMG_4945

Sugarfree, dairy-free, gluten free
Makes 3 portions
Recipe adapted from www.wholeheartedlyhealthy.com

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tbsp melted creamed coconut (read about buying and preparing creamed coconut here)
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • Drop of natural vanilla extract
  • 2 small-med sweet potatoes

Sweet potato breakfast bake from top

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Prepare the creamed coconut – submerge the sachet in a jug of boiling water to melt for 5 minutes and then empty into a bowl and mix well
  • Cook the sweet potatoes – either bake in the oven or microwave for 5-6 minutes
  • Set aside to cool, then peel and chop into rough chunks
  • Add the eggs, vanilla extract and coconut products together in a pouring jug or bowl
  • Whisk thoroughly – this will make the bake fluffy and light
  • Pour the mix into a medium sized baking dish (I use 10×7 inches). Scatter over the sweet potato.
  • Put into the oven and bake for 30-40mins until puffed up and golden on top.
  • Serve with coconut milk or creamy Greek yoghurt

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Let me know if you give this a go or have you tried a sweet potato egg based breakfast before? Do you like using sweet potato and coconut as a natural sweetener? 

Natural vs. Greek yoghurt (video)

So when I first was going low sugar, swapping from my Muller Lights to my natural yoghurt was a big (& at the time quite painful) step. I used to eat a fruity low calorie yoghurt everyday for years after my lunch.

After trying lots of different natural and Greek yoghurts over the past lower sugar period of my life, I decided it would be quite useful to know what the difference is and state the key things to look out for when buying healthy yoghurts. Hence the inspiration for this weeks video.

p.s. in the video I mention grams of fat and this is with reference to per 100g.

p.p.s. I’ve just noticed I’m wearing my same striped top as the last video. Bad wardrobe decisions there….

What brands of yoghurt are you currently eating? Do or did you have a low fat sugary yoghurt habit to contend with? I’ve now made it easier to leave comments below so please let me know your thoughts and I would love it if you’ve got any questions I can help with xx

Is sugar the new tobacco?

Low sugar going big: Your news round up

Unless you were off skiing last week, you might have seen a number of news headlines hit home around sugar.  To remind you of some the key points, and in case you missed any of it, I’d thought I’d do a quick lowdown on the things you might be most interested to know. For more information and background, head over to read why eat less sugar.

The Credit Suisse report

Things really started to kick off back in September when Credit Suisse published their report ‘Sugar: at the crossroads’. Some of their findings were as follows:

  • 43% of the added sugar consumed comes from drinks.

  • 4.8 million die of diabetes every year.

  • 86% of their globally sampled doctors agree that sugar is linked to Type II diabetes, obesity & non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

  • Over 85% of the doctors recommended Government intervention in reducing sugar consumption.

  • It was noted that colourful packaging could be replaced with plainer tones to reduce the appeal of products.

There’s also a video you can watch summing up the report.

Halving our guidelines

Then over Christmas (whilst everyone was polishing off the chocolates!) the World Health Organisation (WHO) leaked a recommendation that the advised sugar levels should be cut in half (reported in the Sunday Times 29.12.13) A few things to note here:

  • Cutting in half would mean the added sugar guideline going from 10% to 5% of total calorie intake. Note that is a maximum, you could actually live with 0% if you want.

  • That is a guideline of 8 teaspoons (32g) for men a day and 6 (24g) for women (including fruit juice and honey).

  • These guidelines have not been updated since 2003.

  • When WHO last recommended a limit, the sugar industry kicked off (in a big and  aggressive way).

  • Sugar Nutrition, who have opposed the changes, are owned by Associated British Foods, who made £435m in profit from the sugar business in 2013 (just saying).

  • Last week, Action on Sugar was launched – an organisation set up to encourage big companies to reduce added ‘hidden’ sugars by at least 30%  in their products over the next few years. To keep things balanced you can read an argument against it here.

  • A great video animation also surfaced showing you how sugar affects your brain, specifically your pleasure dopamine receptors. It explains nicely why we crave it so badly!

  • Forbes also reported on a systematic study on systematic studies around sugary beverages (I know confusing!). It concluded papers may be inclined to draw conclusions in line with sponsors interests e.g. Coca-cola sponsored papers not finding a significant relationship between drinks and obesity.

So is sugar the new tobacco?

  • This was the headline news last week. Sugar is addictive yes, but even Dr Robert Lustig claims not quite as much as tobacco and drugs. Is it really new tobacco? Well, let’s just wait and see how it plays out in the political field. I have to say, I think I’m in the yes camp.

  • Andrew Langley (ex-health minister) disputed the tobacco-sugar analogy and claimed we need to reduce on an incremental basis so not to shock consumers.

  • However, as Dr Malhotra rightly points out in another good article, the problem with sugar is that it’s consumed more widely that tobacco, so you could argue it’s even worse. It’s even so pervasive it’s hard to avoid when we want to (don’t we know it?!). What do you think?

Other random news

  • Lidl claimed they’re replacing checkout sweets with healthier options, to help reduce child pestering (I was one of those kids – sorry Mum!).

  • Monkeys at a zoo in Devon are now restricted with bananas – keepers are reporting they have better skin and calmed aggression. Interesting…

Also to note: I contributed as the expert for a piece in The Mail on Sunday about sweeteners & substitutes. I want to be clear that this article was to educate and I didn’t have full reign over it. To reiterate, once you are successfully ‘off’ sugar’, you don’t need these very often, if at all. I don’t eat any of these day to day. My comments were to help educate the public on what I think is a very confusing area at the moment, in light of all this news, rather than say it’s a good idea to drizzle a large amount of honey on your porridge.

So what do I think?

All in all the wider awareness of sugar is great. It seems there really is a bit of a movement starting. Starting this blog essentially was done for that reason and so it’s fantastic that so many people will take note now, look at sugar like you and me do, and start reducing it in their own lives – leading to improved health all around.

It’s also great because the sugar content will now reduce and lower sugar options are likely to emerge, as consumers like us vote buy buying the better options. Whilst low sugar produce is generally good news for the general public, I would still advise eating whole real unprocessed food as much as possible.

Not always an overnight job…

In response to the awareness, some people will just stop eating sugar and that will be that (I’ve found men can do this easier than women). However, if you’ve tried to cut sugar and you are anywhere near to what I was like with it, you’ll know it’s a longer, harder and potentially more emotional journey. Sometimes it can be nothing short of a depressing not-that-fun uphill struggle.

So take this news as continued motivation to keep going. Get talking to your friends and family, and convince them along for the ride. Do share this article if you think it will help someone you know get their head around all of this.

What are your thoughts on any of this? Is sugar the new tobacco and should Devon’s zoo monkeys be deprived of their bananas?!

fructose

What everyone needs to know about fructose

Sugar in its many forms can be confusing, but if there’s one to get your head around it’s fructose. You might know fructose as the fruit sugar – I know I certainly used to a few years ago, before I got wise. It helps to understand fructose in a bit of detail, so here are the essentials you need to know (Don’t worry, I’m not going to bombard you with biochemistry here!).

What is fructose?

Fructose is a simple sugar that’s found naturally in fruit and in small amounts in some vegetables. It’s the sugar that makes things taste sweet and it exists as follows:

  • Refined sugar (white stuff on grannie’s shelf) is 50% fructose and 50% glucose
  • fructoseHoney is about 30-40% fructose
  • Agave nectar is a whopping 90% fructose
  • Fruits vary in fructose content. For example, bananas are higher, berries are lower

Fructose is unlike other sugars because it’s processed only by the liver. An excessive amount of fructose going through the liver puts strain on this organ. Our bodies just weren’t designed for the amount of fructose that is so readily available today (think fizzy drinks, 1litre cartons of smoothies and slabs of chocolate!).

The three main problems with fructose

1. It converts to fat & increases unhealthy cholesterol

Excess fructose in the liver converts to fatty acids as energy to be stored, so yes, it can lead to fat storage. This excess also increases bad cholesterol and uric acid. Whether it’s from honey, fruit, refined sources like chocolate, cake & sweets or agave nectar, you need to be conscious of your total fructose consumption.

2. You don’t feel full on fructose

Fructose doesn’t suppress your hunger hormones like other foods so you don’t feel as full on it. It’s why you can gorge or binge on sugar quite easily (now that explains my biscuit dilemma). Whilst fruit contains fructose, it also has fibre which does fill you up. This explains why you can’t eat 3 whole apples and a banana in one go (comfortably at least), but you could quite easily drink them in a juice or smoothie without feeling like a massive bloater.

fructose

3. It’s addictive

It’s this sweet sugar fructose that’s addictive. It’s the taste that hits the sweet spot when you’re craving, it releases the feel-good chemical in your brain and it wets your tastebuds for more. You want more and you need more to get the same hit. I know that feeling!

Managing your fructose intake

In your quest for low sugar, be aware that you want to really keep an eye out for the amount of fructose you eat day to day. Our bodies can tolerate a little a day, but not much. Different individuals may have varying sensitivities to fructose. I don’t count fructose grams (way too much hassle), but I’m largely aware of where it is and this is what guides me to eat it in moderation. I generally get my fructose from a few portions of fruit a day, if that.

You can build up a tolerance and taste for fructose. This is where you move towards sugar dependence or the addiction end of the scale. Likewise you can decrease your tolerance gradually reducing or detoxing off fructose.

In a nutshell, it’s important to consider refined sugar and natural fruit together in your daily fructose count and be aware of what it is (which this post should have explained).

I hope this has helped. Hit me if you have any more questions on fructose in the comments below?

Sources

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/28/new-study-confirms-fructose-affects-your-brain-very-differently-than-glucose.aspx

Dr Rober Lustig, Sugar: The Bitter Truth (You Tube) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

The Skinny on Obesity (Ep.7 ): Drugs Cigarettes Alcohol…Sugar? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWnbMnnLo5w&list=PL39F782316B425249&index=8

Do you know the difference between a banana and a croissant?

Sugar can get a little confusing. Can you explain what the difference is between a banana and a croissant? I’ve been self teaching myself for a while now, and still sometimes I find it hard to explain quickly and painlessly the differences between various foodstuffs.

If you aren’t clear what the difference is between our yellow friend and the French speciality, then read on for where I’ve come to on these two…

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA banana and a croissant are made up of different types of sugar that are metabolised differently by the body
  • A banana contains some fructose (in fact, quite a lot compared to other fruits).
  • Fructose is the thing that makes things taste sweet. Table sugar and all similar ‘added sugar’ is about 50% fructose. If you’re tasting sweet, it’s probably fructose in some form.
  • Too much fructose is dangerous for the body but we can tolerate small amounts i.e. a few portions of fruit a day
  • A croissant doesn’t contain fructose, therefore it doesn’t taste sweet but it is a very refined source of glucose (also a sugar but not the sweet tasting one)
  • Refined glucose like this is quickly absorbed into the blood stream and spikes your blood sugar and insulin release, potentially leading to a later ‘crash’ (not good)
  • A banana on it’s own has a highish glycemic index and so will covert into blood sugar relatively quickly
  • A banana is natural, has fibre (which slows down sugar absorption), potassium and other useful nutrients for the body
  • A croissant is processed and has nada

Easier? Clearer? Hmm maybe not. There are still too many bullets there than I wanted to write.

Ideally you want to be eating a healthy meal or snack balanced with protein and fat which neither a banana or croissant on their own provides. However, if you were on a desert island with only these two options, a banana obviously is going to be the all round healthier choice.

If you are trying to get a handle on your sugar habits and know you’ve already eaten fruits or fructose during the day, it’s possible the banana could take you over the ideal fructose amount. I feel it’s important to be aware of this, because fructose is the sweet tasting ‘addictive’ sugar.

banana

I had a guy recently tell me he ate a few bananas a a day and still craved a maple and pecan slice…err way too much fructose dude!

When I was carefully watching my sugar in order to get off the sweet stuff and lesser my cravings, I was wary of bananas for a period of time. There are lots of other lower fructose fruits you can have as an alternative – berries, satsumas etc. As a result, my tastebuds have adjusted to fructose and when I have the occasional banana, my gosh, it tastes really flipping sweet.

I should also add that ripe bananas contain more fructose than their green tipped friends, so opt for greener ones if you’re on fructose alert.

Hope that helps a little to clear up any confusion. I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, so it’s nice to finally let it out.

Any views on bananas? Do you eat them everyday or just occasionally?

sugar-free-yoghurt

Which are the best low sugar yoghurts to buy?

So you’re standing in the supermarket, it’s a bit cold because you’re in the fridge section and you’re feeling COMPLETELY bamboozled the by yoghurt choice. Oh trust me, I’ve been there – which are the best low sugar yoghurts out there?

Greek, natural, pro-biotic, ‘natural’ fruit ones, low calorie, half a dozen fat %s etc. There’s just so much choice and apart from the Rolo variety, most are claiming that they’re the healthiest thing going. It’s confusing to say the least.

If yoghurt is a staple in your diet; you’ve formally been (or still are) a low fat fruity fan; and you’re looking for a yoghurt life less some sugar, with a handle on your cravings, then this is the article for you!

Should we be eating dairy?

I first wrote this article back in 2012 but I’m now updating it because the yoghurt scene is moving mighty fast. Dairy is getting a bad rep and many people are these days opting to avoid it. I could spend the whole of this post discussing dairy in itself but I want to keep it simple:

1. If you already know you’re lactose intolerant or actively avoid dairy because it makes you feel better not eating it, then of course continue to do so. Options for you will be more limited but they are there – mainly in the form of coconut yoghurt. My favourite low sugar yoghurts brands being CoYo and Coconut Collaborative.

Note: If you’re dairy free but chucking down sweetened almond milk or dairy free chocolate like no tomorrow, you’re still potentially a bit hooked on sugar (fructose). I’d ask yourself to what extent avoiding the dairy is driving you towards more sugar and how much of a control you feel over sweet stuff?

2. If you have an unhealthy relationship with sugar and you are eating sugary yoghurts, forget about experimenting around dairy-free and just focus on lower sugar to start with. This article should really help you do that.

A note: I still eat quite a lot of (quality) dairy these days. I am considering a trial period without it but I’m not going to deny the fact it really really helped me overcome my sweet tooth and I’m not sure I would have beaten my fructose addiction without it. I (& many of my clients) have used yoghurt and milky drinks a lot to help with some of the worst cravings and sugary habits. So as much as people will argue against dairy, it very much depends on you and where you’re at.

low sugar yoghurts

The benefits of yoghurt on a lower sugar diet

Yoghurt can be a delicious source of protein, fat and other nutrients that is satisfying and can feel indulgent. It can fill you up at breakfast, serve as a snack or add a tasty dimension and natural sweetness to main meals. It can even be a healthy dessert or bust a particularly tough craving.

However, it’s also one of the food areas which is the most shocking when it comes to sugar and mixed marketing messages, so it really needs some awareness.

Diebetes Lie

How much sugar?!

I’ll never forget the moment I realised my daily Activia Snackpot contained 16g of sugar. I nearly fell through the floor and actually felt some deep down sadness inside – this was the sweet pleasure in my day and had been for about 10 years. I do really feel your yoghurt pain if you’re going through it.

However, to give you an idea of sugar in some yoghurts check these out:

Muller Light Smooth Toffee 175g pot = 12.4g sugar plus aspartame (artificial sweetener)

Weight Watchers Summer Fruit Strawberry 120g pot = 6.6g sugar plus aspartame

Tesco Low Fat Strawberry 125g pot = 16.1g sugar, no aspartame

Yeo Valley Greek Style Honey 100g pot = 14.3g sugar, no aspartame

As you can see, some contain quite a lot of sugar, especially when you visually remember that 4g is the equivalent of a teaspoon. That small Tesco strawberry number is packing in a hefty 4 teaspoons of sugar.

Evident from the first two, it’s also not unusual to find sugar (usually in the form of a syrup) AND artificial sweeteners. In some cases you may find just artificial sweeteners and in others just a form of sugar (even organic honey is still sugar – especially when its so processed).

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Natural vs. Fruit in low sugar yoghurts

I’ll be frank and get to the point here. Anything fruity flavoured or that tastes fruity, has something in it to make it taste like that. Even a seemingly ‘natural’ fruit compote is a concentrated source of sugar, usually with extra sugar or artificial sweeteners added to it. I won’t even go into artificial colourings or other stabilisers which are usually also packed into these yoghurts. Remember the fewer ingredients on the list, the better.

The best way to go to avoid added sugar is to steer away from fruity flavours and opt for natural or plain Greek yoghurts. Learn more by watching my video on Natural vs. Greek yoghurts and reading this article on the three things you probably don’t know about Greek yoghurt.

So remember the differences here:

  • Fruit flavour yoghurt: between 6-14g sugar per 100g (plus potential stabilisers and artificial sweeteners)
  • Natural or Greek yoghurt: between 4-9g sugar per 100g

The best of the fruity situation

Whilst natural is preferable, lets say a fruit flavoured yoghurt slips into the trolley… I’ll turn a blind eye with the hope you’ll change this habit eventually as I know I struggled to pull myself off this one.

My advice if you really want a low sugar healthy(ish) fruit flavoured yoghurt is aim for 6-7g per 100g or around 8-9g a pot serving NOT a whopping 16g like the above Tesco number. You’ll also need to decide how OK you are with various 0g sugar substitutes like aspartame or stevia, as you’re likely to come across lower sugar products that contain these to keep the sweet taste.

Personally, I’d say really try to move away from fruity yoghurts. Buy plain, natural or Greek and add your own fruit or even a little brown rice syrup/raw honey if you really need. At least you have control of the amount if you’re adding it yourself. Whole fruit with the skin helps naturally slow down the release of sugar and helps your body process it much better than some sort of processed fruit compote.

Low sugar yoghurts: Be conscious of portion size

Smaller snack size pots are easy to calculate but the killer comes with those large and so-easy-to-dip-your-spoon-into big tubs.

You’re likely to have about a 150g portion of these and if your spoon is dipping into something like the Onken Vanilla 0% ‘fat free’, you’re racking up an impressive 21.2g of sugar (5.3 teaspoons) for that portion size. All of that under the perception that you’re being healthy with 0% fat. Crazy town!

Not to mention with those large tubs of addictive fructose laden yoghurt, portion control is even harder (just one more spoonful…). Eat a double portion by accident an your up to 44.4g of sugar! Ouch.

Natural lactose sugar

You’ll notice that even the natural and Greek yoghurts contain sugar under the carbohydrates listing on the label. If the ingredients do not list anything sweet or sugar like, you can assume that this is natural lactose which is OK.

This is absolutely fine from a sugar craving standpoint – it’s not the addictive fructose that makes you want more sugar and is harmful in large quantities.

Generally yoghurts can contain between 4-9g of natural lactose like this but always double check the ingredients. Ideally you want just the yoghurt and maybe some friendly yoghurt cultures to be listed. Below is the ingredients list for FAGE Total Greek Classic (4% fat) yoghurt which is a quality brand I highly recommend.

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What about fat?

We are currently emerging from a low fat era and attitudes are shifting. Recent reports are claiming that the low fat advice we were previously given a few decades ago was based on weak evidence. All saturated fat is no longer the dietary villain it was made out to be.

When it comes to low sugar yoghurts, full fat has two main benefits:

  1. It fills you up and satiates you more, thus reducing your need for other food or snacking between meals
  2. It’s less processed than low fat varieties

Saying this I know personally and through my coaching that ‘fat fear’ is a real issue. I found it hard to start eating full fat dairy and had to work my way up. You usually get yoghurt in 0%, 1.5-2%, 4% and 9.5-10% fat varieties so maybe just opt for the higher %’s or the one up from the one that you’re used to.

Even if you’re trying to slim down, experiment with full fat yoghurt (or at least 4%) because where you might be eating a few extra calories with it, chances are it’s going to satiate you to eat less over the rest of the day and so it kind of balances itself out if you know what I mean.

At the end of the day it may also come down to taste preference. I personally go for either 4% or 9.5% depending on what I’m using it for e.g. 4% for breakfast, 9.5% if it’s a dessert.

Look for protein

Another healthy thing to look for in low sugar yoghurts is protein content, because this ultimately the macronutrient that will keep you feeling fuller for longer and release energy more steadily into the bloodstream. FAGE Total Greek really comes out on top here with at least 9g per 100g. Reviewing other varieties for protein, they seem to average around 4-8g.

Low sugar yoghurt recommendations

I like these ones…

FAGE Total Greek Classic, 4% fat, 9g protein

FAGE Total Greek 2%, 2% fat, 9.9g protein

Yeo Valley Natural (the green one!), 4.2% fat, 4.6g protein

Yeo Vally Greek Style Natural, 9.5% fat, 4.5g protein

Tesco Natural Greek Yoghurt, 9.5% fat, 4.2g protein (probably the cheapest here)

Even Lidl has a full fat creamy massive tub one that is suitable for a low sugar diet, so cost should not be a barrier!

In summary, the morals of the low sugar yoghurt story are:

1) keep your eye firmly on sugar content – the ingredients particularly so you can spot for artificial sweeteners and other sugar forms.

2) move away from fruity flavoured where you can

3) consider the protein

4) don’t be scared off by fat.

I’ll also quickly add to watch out for stevia, agave, honey etc. which are also all bound to start making more of an appearance in low sugar yoghurts as the market starts to shift to ‘low sugar’ over ‘low fat’.

If you tend to get a bit confused between natural sugars, lactose etc. when reading label then you can download the free PDF Reading Label Guide HERE which will walk you through really logical steps. Honestly, get your head around this process and you’ll never look back!

What do you think about yoghurts? Do you have any questions? Please comment below and I’ll answer them for you and everyone else reading this.

Laura xx