Stay Fresh and Local at the Farmers Market

iStock_000010147416XSmallWhen you live in the city, it’s easy to take some things for granted. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are sort of a thing of the past, with a few minor exceptions. Can you imagine how your great grandparents might react if they knew they could get fresh fruit in the middle of December? It’s easy to take that kind of access to fresh food for granted.

But we lose something when we 24/7 access. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize how blessed we are to have access to food whenever we need, but there’s something special about knowing that peaches will be ripe this month, or knowing that those green tomatoes are going to be turning red any day now. The anticipation of knowing fresh food was coming up made it taste that much sweeter when it finally did become available.

That’s why I love local farmers markets. You get to see locally made products, meet new people, and most importantly, be exposed to fresh, locally sourced fruits and vegetables. While you can get relatively fresh food at any supermarket, you can find freshly picked, locally produced fruits and vegetables that was likely grown within 30 miles of your location. And I don’t think I need to remind you how important it is to escape processed foods and incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet.

Now, you might be thinking “Brian, why waste time going to a farmers market when I can get something almost as good down the street? After all, you just said it: I can get the same kind of foods at the superstore, and it’s much more convenient.”

Going to a Farmers Market does more than expose you to good food. A farmers market gets you outdoors, in the sun and away from the couch! You can ride your bike down to the market, or just put on some walking shoes and just go for a casual stroll around the various stalls. Just getting outside and keeping yourself active is a great way to stick to a fitness regime. Plus, a little vitamin D from the sun always helps! It’s more than just helping your physical fitness; it’s about social health as well.

Here are a few things to consider when you go to the Portland or Vancouver Farmers Market this coming weekend:

Know your Seasons – If you have your own garden, you probably know that there’s a season for every kind of fruit and vegetable. Apples naturally grow during a specific part of the year, squash normally shows up in the fall… So plan your meals accordingly! There’s always something fresh and new that’s going to be popping up at the market. Right now for example, you can likely expect to see some fresh tomatoes showing up, so think about incorporating some fresh tomato into a garden salad. Or if you’re looking for a snack, think about grabbing some fresh celery or some cucumber.

Dress for the Occasion – Farmers markets are a great place to enjoy some time outdoors, so make sure you wear the right apparel! Put on some comfortable shoes, plan for the temperature, and wear a hat to keep the sun off your head. Don’t forget sun protection if it’s going to be hot out, like sun block, sunglasses, and even an umbrella if you’re very sensitive.

Be Spontaneous, but Healthy – When you’re walking down the stalls, you’re probably going to see some foods that you may have never heard of before. I remember one client of mine was so excited that she found this thing called Okra, something she had never tried cooking with before. If you see something new, don’t be afraid to ask about it, pick some up, and try making something with it. What’s the worst you can do? But beware – farmers markets are well known for having unhealthy foods, like deep fried Twinkies. Try new things, but REMEMBER YOUR MEAL PLAN!

Ask Vendors for Recipes – Think about it this way: If a vendor has some kind of vegetable at his booth, he or she has probably had a lot of it at home, which means they probably have to find some pretty creative ways of eating it to keep it from getting mundane. After all, there’s only so much you can take of the same meal. I remember one vendor told me about a recipe she had for eggplant pizza. At first, I thought she was just a bit too enthusiastic about eggplant – I mean, how versatile can the thing be? It turns out, eggplant pizza is delicious! I never would have known such a recipe existed if she hadn’t told me about it. Vendors want to talk about their food – Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there.

So come on down to the farmers market! Enjoy the sun, browse the stalls, and see what you can find to help spice up your meal plan. And if you’re looking for something specific, ask a personal trainer at Boomer Fitness what you should look out for when you head down to the Farmers Market. We’ll have some great recipes you can incorporate into your meal plan.

Apples, Pears, Plums… Can I Enjoy It?

Apple, pear, tape and glucometerI love it when my clients get excited. Not just about fitness, either! I love hearing about what my clients are up to outside of the immediate realm of fitness, whether it’s hobbies they enjoy, weekend plans they are looking forward to, or just daily updates.

One client of mine, Jon, has been telling me all about the fruit trees he has planted in his backyard. He is stoked that his micro orchard, if you can call five trees and orchard, are going gangbusters. Despite the heat, the trees have been producing a lot of fruit, and it looks like he has a lot of dishes that include apples, plums, and pears in his immediate future.

You can see where I’m going with this, right? I bet you can!

During the late summer, a lot of fruit starts to make its way to the market. I see a lot of independent entrepreneurs on street corners selling fresh apples, pears, plums, peaches, and cherries. As a chef, it’s a great time to take advantage of seasonal foods.

Now for the most part, fruits seem to get a bad rap at the surface. Fruits are seen as sugar packing desserts, inferior to vegetables. It’s true, in some cases: many fruits are used in dessert items, like cherry pie, apple strudel, plum pudding… and yes, these items are not on your diet plan! But that doesn’t mean fruits as a whole should be taken out of your diet.

Fruits are still a huge part of the food pyramid, and while they should be regulated like any other portion of food, you should still include healthy fruits into your diet. Take a look at some of the most important aspects of keeping fruit in your diet:

Fruits don’t contain cholesterol – That’s right! Cholesterol free! Fruits are also low in sodium, unhealthy fats, and calories.

Fruits are sources of nutrients – As a whole, most Americans lack a healthy source of potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin C. Guess what many fruits have? All of these, especially bananas, prunes, peaches, apricots, and cantaloupe.

Fruits reduce heart disease – Because of these nutrients I just listed, fruits are amazing at preventing heart disease, which includes risk of heart attack and stroke.

Fiber! – Fiber is essential to any diet as you get older, as it helps protect against types of cancers, creates a sense of fullness, and helps proper bowel movement.

So don’t feel bad by grabbing an apple for the afternoon snack, or grabbing a few plums for lunch. Enjoy the treat! Be sure to talk to a personal trainer at Boomer Fitness to see how we can fully incorporate a healthy amount of fruit into your daily diet.

 

This Weekend, Declare your Independence from Bad Habits

800px-Constitution_We_the_PeopleHappy 4th of July! Well, technically, today is just the 2nd of July, but I know plenty of you will be taking tomorrow off and enjoying this patriotic holiday.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh great, Brian’s going to write about how I need to stay on track, and how I can’t have any hot dogs or other junk food, no beer is allowed on my meal plan, and how the grind includes Fridays. Even long weekend Fridays where I could be sleeping in or relaxing on the porch.”

You know me so well!

Look, you know my thoughts on holiday weekends. You have heard my lectures about the importance of eating right, and how we might consider holidays something special, but our bodies don’t recognize the difference.

And you definitely know my stance on sticking to your fitness goals, no matter what the rest of the world is doing. Peer pressure is no excuse, and the grind includes Fridays… Even Fridays that you might want to spend doing other things.

So that’s why you might be a little surprised when I say enjoy yourself this weekend.

Yes, you read that right. And yes, I’m serious! This weekend, take some time and just enjoy yourself. Treat yourself to a hot dog with some extra relish. Grab a beer while your husband or wife lights some fireworks, or roast a marshmallow on the fire with the grand kids. Treat yourself to something good while we celebrate what makes this country great. I want you to enjoy yourself, and if that means slacking a little bit from your fitness goals, then you have my permission.

All I ask (and I can hear you saying “Oh great, here’s the catch!” but hear me out) is that you remember that whatever you do this weekend will be reflected in your fitness when you get back to the grind on Monday. There are repercussions to everything and we always pay our debts, one way or another.

American HolidayI can tell you to enjoy yourself because ultimately, what you do this weekend will effect you, not me. Fitness isn’t about guilt. It isn’t about doing what your trainer tells you to do, even though we typically know what we’re talking about. It isn’t about living up to our expectations, or even about what the scale at Boomer Fitness says. At the end of the day, your fitness is about your Physical Independence, and about what you do with it.

See what I did there?

I really want you think about this for a minute. We celebrate July 4th for one major historic event: The United States declared themselves independent from the British Empire. Now when the original thirteen colonies declared themselves free, it wasn’t exactly a sure thing like it may seem today. The British weren’t  just going to get up and leave, unity among the states was still in its infancy, and there was always the chance that unforeseen events could cause the whole project to come crashing down before it really started. With one slip up, the whole goal could have died before it was even born.

But the rebellious colonies kept at it. They were kicked, beaten, and thrown in the mud. Hopelessness was an understatement when it came to military actions during the Revolutionary War. But they kept getting back up and giving it everything they had.

There were no long weekends where Washington said “You know, I feel like kicking back instead of fighting the British.” In fact, you might recall a particular Christmas where Washington, instead of spending the day inside, decided to row across the Deleware.

Can you imagine the muscles needed for that?

In the end, that tenacity prevailed, and their independence was achieved. You and I are the living results of their commitment, and we celebrate their ability to reach their goal every July 4th.

Now, go back and read the last few paragraphs, and see if you can find any parallels between the United States and the British compared to You and an Unhealthy Lifestyle.

I sincerely want you to enjoy yourself this weekend. It isn’t every day you get to enjoy a little extra time outdoors, spent with friends and family around the Barbecue. All I ask is that when you’re enjoying yourself, remember that all actions have repercussions.

Every hot dog you enjoy is going to show itself when you grab the kettle bells on Monday. Every beer you enjoy is going to rear its head when you jump on the treadmill on Monday. And every marshmallow, as harmless as it might seem at the time, is going to contribute to that wall you have to resume scaling on Monday.

So instead of going all out when the fireworks are booming, maybe enjoy one beer instead of two or three. Savor that hot dog, and maybe hold off on the excessive relish. In the long run, your self control today will be a great tool in helping you achieve your fitness goals and declaring yourself Independent of unhealthy habits.

You only count the good ones!

If you have worked out with me, you may have noticed something about my counting. We’ll be in the middle of a workout, you’re sweating up a storm, and we are on a roll! We finish a set of lunges, I give you a high five, and we move on to the dumbbell curls.

So you start lifting your weights like the champ you are, and I’m making sure you’re lifting the weights correctly. You might notice that I don’t count one of your lifts. You think maybe I let one slide to try to push you, and you keep going.

Four more lifts later, and  I seem to only have counted three of them.

“What’s the deal?” That’s what one of my clients Len said last week. He could swear that he did his complete set, but I was only counting about 3/4ths of them. Was I trying to push him farther than normal?

Well, yes and no.

Let me clear something up for you: I know how to count. They don’t exactly let you into the Air Force without that prerequisite, and they certainly won’t give you a personal fitness certification if you don’t know how to do basic math. So why do I seem to lose a few of your sets when you’re working your butt off?

When it comes to fitness, you don’t cut corners. You can’t afford to, not when taking half measures can sabotage your fitness goals or even cause real harm to your body. You either go all the way, or you don’t go at all. You either do a full set of an exercise the right way, or you’re not going to make progress.

So how does this tie back in to Len’s workout? Well, as you get tired, your body is going to start trying to cut corners to use less energy. Even the best of gym members can’t help it – your body is simply hardwired to save energy. So when Len starts to get tired, his body is going to try to complete a “set” by whatever means necessary.

This can be a recipe for disaster if left unchecked. Working out incorrectly can do more harm than good. Think about it: If you’re doing deadlifts, you want to lift with the right muscles: Your legs, your, arms, and your core. Taking a half measure and lifting with your back can cause some serious damage. And as your body gets tired, you are going to be more likely to make mistakes like that.

So what was happening with Len and my counting issues? It’s because I only count the good ones. Doing a set incorrectly isn’t making progress; it’s causing more harm than good! So when a client start lifting incorrectly, we do one of two things: We correct the problem, or we stop the exercise and do something else.

Don’t think I’ll let you do more harm than good: Len has been a client of mine for a long time, and he knows when he’s doing a good set or not. I will tell you immediately when I see you doing a set incorrectly because I care about your progress. And I certainly don’t want you to hurt yourself at the gym.

No half measures. No shortcuts. We go all the way, because that’s the only way!

Cycling: Enjoying your fitness outdoors!

11392894_10153924172762598_3777624427085136122_nOne of the best things about summer is getting a chance to go outdoors. During the weekends, if you don’t have anywhere planned to go, it’s still nice to take a day trip to the mountains, or maybe head to the coast for a few days. It’s nice out, after all- it’s not like it happens every day in the Pacific Northwest.

One of my clients, Jenn, loves to talk about her time on a bike. To her, cycling is the end all of transportation methods. Need to get yourself from point A to B? A bike will do it. Want to burn off some steam or calories? Well it just so happens that a bike does a great job at burning calories. Even if you have cargo to move, you can do it with a cargo bike built for heavy loads. To her, the summer season is bike season, and she embraces it fully.

Now, I don’t necessarily cycle as my main source of transportation like Jenn does, but I do enjoy it from time to time. Especially when I get a chance to do it down at the waterfront in Portland, or on the Banks-Vernonia trail when I get a chance to get out there. And there are definitely some great health benefits to riding a bicycle, other than the cardio you might get on a cycle machine.

Whether you’re a casual cyclist or a hardcore ironman/woman in training, here are a few reasons you might want to jump on a bicycle when you get a chance this summer time:

Cycling conditions your muscles: Unlike a cycle machine, a bicycle is guaranteed to give you varied resistance as you go up and down various hills. You’re going to get a great workout in your legs, thighs, and gluts.

Cycling helps with joint conditions: Believe it or not, cycling is considered a low impact form or exercise, unlike jogging which has an impact with every step you take. This means you’re going to put a lot less pressure on your knees, which will really pay off in the long run.

Cycling increases lifespan: It’s the small things that really help when it comes to your lifespan. The British Medical Association discovered cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 50%.That’s a huge benefit, for just going outdoors for a few hours.

Cycling improves the waistline: When you’re on a bike, you can expect to burn around 300 calories per hour, which roughly translates to losing 11 pounds of unhealthy fat per year on a person. Plus, you get to enjoy the sights going by.

Cycling improves mental health: On the other side of the spectrum, cycling can even improve your brain. Bicycling has been proven to reduce stress and increase hand-eye coordination among those who choose to cycle a mere 30 minutes a day (Maybe stay out of the city  that might add to your stress levels). The Journal of Occupational Health published an article showing cycling significantly improved mental health among those who choose to commute daily to work.

So don’t forget to grab your bike this coming weekend. Your body will thank you!

Water: Don’t Neglect It

water splash in a glassWhen it comes to working out, there really aren’t a lot of things you need to take with you. You get some gym clothes, you grab a towel, and you’re ready to build some muscles, right?

Gyms like Boomer Fitness are great for that reason. We carry the essentials you need when you’re here, so you don’t have to worry about taking things with you. We’ve got the equipment for the workout, the showers for cleaning up afterward, and the water faucet for when you need to re-hydrate.

But what happens when you’re outdoors this summer? You might go for a hike up Dog Mountain, go jogging around the block, or even cycle down to the local grocery store. When you head out, you still might not take much with you, other than some breathable clothes, a cellphone, and the keys. But there’s something missing. Can you guess it? If you guessed water, you know where I’m going with this.

Water is ESSENTIAL, especially when you’re outdoors. Think about it this way: your body is already around 65% water. Would you really want to deny yourself something that makes up 65% of your body?

No matter what you’re doing, you’re likely going to be outdoors this summer. And if this heat continues, it’s going to get very, very hot while we’re outdoors.

This means you’re going to need a lot more water than you might in a regular workout. Why is that? Well, when your in a hotter environment, you’re going to be sweating a lot more. Your going to be expending more water, which means you’re going to need to replace it with even more.

When you exercise, your muscles are going through a number of chemical reactions. Water is essential in many of these reactions, and if they don’t have the necessary ingredients, these reactions slow down. Think of water as lubrication for your muscles. Without it, you’re going to start getting less efficient.

Here’s an example – As you work out, your heart is going to be working harder than normal to get blood to your muscles. Water is the main ingredient in plasma found in your blood, which is responsible for moving chemical components around your body. Drinking more water means your body is going to be much better at getting things where they need to go.

So do yourself a favor the next time you hike up Dog Mountain: Bring a canteen of water with you! You will feel better, your body will be more efficient, and best of all, you’re exercising outdoors! You can’t lose when you’re enjoying the great weather this summer.

Empty Stomach Syndrome: Creating Havoc on your Diet

iStock_000018166519XSmallWe’ve all been there. You’re heading to the supermarket and suddenly everything looks delicious. You start walking down the aisles and you suddenly have an urge to try everything! Those chips look so good, those cookies are to die for, and I’ve never seen that beef jerky before. The next thing you know, your cart is full and you haven’t even started checking off the things on your list yet.

Stop! Drop those sugar-filled cookies and get out while you still can! You’re suffering from empty stomach syndrome, and it’s not going to help that specialty diet we set up for you.

Empty Stomach Syndrome, or ESS, is what happens when you are hungry and enter a store filled with foods. It’s a recipe for disaster if you’re on a specialty diet program, especially when you walk down those aisles that are absolutely filled with junk food.

It’s not entirely your fault, either. Supermarkets know what they’re doing with these aisles, and seek to take full advantage of your ESS. You might notice that snack foods are always at eye level, spaced throughout the store, and always seem to have some great “club prices” that scream a deal. After all, there’s no harm in trying those saturated fat crackers, especially when you’re saving two bucks when doing it!

Do yourself a favor: The next time you’re going to the market for foods, grab a quick healthy meal or snack beforehand. Planning your trip to the supermarket after a meal will do a number of things for you:

Save Money – You might notice that if you’re not shopping hungry, your cart won’t be quite as full. You’re going to be less inclined to buy foods you don’t need when you’re not daydreaming about how they taste. Less cravings mean less money at the checkout.

Less Snack Foods -If you’re not hungry, you’re going to be planning for the future,  not for the present. Keeping your attention on your diet instead of your snack cravings means you’re going to spend more time in healthier aisles, which means less temptations later down the road.

Better Planning – When you’re operating on a full tank, you’re a lot less likely to make mistakes than if you’re running on empty. After a meal, you’re going to be thinking straight, which means you can plan around your diet. You’re going to remember things that are on your good list, and remember to keep yourself from buying foods that are not.

Remember: You either go all the way or your don’t go at all. There’s no middle ground, which means you can’t cut corners on your diet. Stick to it, and you will make progress!

Fun: The forgotten aspect of Fitness

My folks staying young!
My folks staying young!

Once upon a time, the word “recess” used to inspire anticipation. We looked forward to playing tag, or being the first to the swing set, or grabbing the football and teaming up with your friends against the other dreaded 5th graders.

As a kid, spending time out on the playground wasn’t dreamed of as punishment – it was something to look forward to, something to be enjoyed! Those 30 minutes of freedom outside of the classroom were sometimes the best part of gradeschool.

Now when we think about running across a field or swinging on a jungle gym, many think  its a sport for a younger generation. It’s something your kids do, or even your grand kids, but certainly not you. I’ll watch from here, you go have fun. I’ll get my workout at the gym later.

What happened? When did fitness stop being fun?

Something that always gets pushed to the wayside of fitness it the importance of having a good time. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, you will break a sweat when doing it. But going to the gym shouldn’t be something that you dread. It should be something you look forward to. Otherwise, what is going to bring you back to the gym on those days that you can’t find any other motivation?

I have a mission for you this week. Spend one hour and do something that you enjoy, but haven’t made time to do recently. Maybe it’s riding your bike down at Fishermans Wharf. Maybe it’s shooting some hoops with your kids or some friends at the office. Maybe it’s as simple as getting on a swing, like my parents! The important thing is to get outside and enjoy doing something active that you don’t normally do. Riding your bike or jumping on the swings will still give you a workout, even if it might not feel like it at the time.

That’s one of the reasons I have put together these 21 day boot camps you might be participating in. Yes, it’s a workout, and yes, we are working toward results. It’s uncomfortable at times, and extremely difficult to get the results we want. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun as we do it!

Don’t make your fitness something to dread. Have fun with it. Enjoy it! Do that, and you may find your schedule has more time for fitness.

When you’re ready to make the change and have fun doing it, email me about getting started on your 21 day plan. We will get you signed up and ready to go!

Natural vs Unnatural Sugars

iStock_000012651702XSmallLast Tuesday, I wrote a bit about sugar and the dangers of consuming too much. Many of us are eating sugar without even knowing it, with many condiments and processed foods smuggling sugar into our diets.

There is such a thing as too much sugar, but does that mean you can cut them from your diet altogether? Well, not exactly. Carbohydrates, necessary to keeping your body energized, is a sugar! Give up carbs altogether, and you won’t have any energy to get through the day.

Now, you might be thinking I’m contradicting myself. How can I tell you to cut sugar from you diet, but then tell you that sugars like carbs are a necessity of life? There is a distinction between necessary sugars and excessive sugars, and it’s as simple as looking at the source.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

The biggest culprit in excessive sugar consumption is high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. HFCS is made primarily of corn, and is created when corn syrup undergoes a conversion process, changing some of its glucose to fructose. Because of the ease of processing, HFCS is used as a supplement in many processed foods for sweetness. You can find it in most sodas, processed desserts like Twinkies, and even in places you wouldn’t expect like energy bars or cereal.

There has recently been a lot of conflicting information regarding HFCS. Many sources will tell you that there are no dangers in HFCS, while others will tell you that its a poisonous bile you should avoid at all costs. As commonplace as it is, it’s hard to escape HFCS. But there are always alternatives to unnatural sources of sugar.

Natural Sugars 

Of course, sugar isn’t an unnatural product altogether. Many healthy foods, like fruits for example, naturally contain sugars. A single red delicious apple will naturally contain approximately 23 grams of sugar, and you will seldom hear a doctor telling you to stop eating fruits.

As I said before, carbohydrate sugars have a very important part in our lives, and it would be unhealthy to block out these energy sources completely. How can we get through our fitness regimen if our body doesn’t have the energy to do it?

I have a quick tip I tell some of my clients who are struggling with this: If you’re considering a food, look at the nutritional information on the back. If sugar comes up in the first few lines, put the box down and find something else to eat. If High Fructose Corn Syrup shows up, find something else to eat. If you see words that you have to sound out in your head, put the box down.

The ingredient sugar is not deadly, but sugar in high quantity is. As we make changes in our lives, especially in our diet, it is important to be aware of what we are fueling ourselves with. Trust me, I know that making the change from processed foods packed full of sugar will be difficult, but I also know it will be worth the change.

Be sure to ask any of the personal trainers at Boomer Fitness about how you can make a healthy change in your diet. And stay up to date on my blog for more details to come!

Sugar, the Unknown Danger Hiding in your Food

iStock_000016293067XSmallI don’t know about you, but during my childhood, one of my favorite memories was waking up exceedingly early on Saturday Mornings. I would head downstairs, turn on Saturday Morning Cartoons, and grab a huge bowl of Frosted Flakes, doused with extra sugar from the cabinet. It was a childhood tradition, and you could never have too much sugar.

Today, I shudder to think about how much sugar kids are putting through their bodies whether their parents know about it or not. With the amount of sugar that can be found in every day foods anymore, adding even more is beyond excessive.

I won’t beat around the bush on this one: whether you are a kid watching cartoons early in the morning or just adding some sugar to your morning coffee, high levels of sugar in anyone’s diet is deadly. (When I was proof reading this, a client of mine thought claiming excessive sugar consumption is deadly was going too far, but I disagree. I want to make sure you know the truth about what is in your food, and I have no intention of sugar coating the truth for you… pun intended) Excess consumption of sugar is known to be directly linked to heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, all of which a big portion of our population is struggling with right now.

This problem isn’t just something we can ignore and hope will go away, either. Today, Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the US, and it’s only estimated to get worse. The World Health Organization estimates that the total deaths caused by diabetes will increase by 50% in the next 10 years. in 2012, the American Diabetes Association discovered that just under 10% of the US population had a form of diabetes.

You may be thinking “Ok Brian, I get it. Sugar is bad, but I cut soda out of my diet years ago. I don’t have ice cream in the house, and I treat myself to one candy bar when Halloween comes around. I’m doing enough to cut sugar out of my diet, right?

Unfortunately, you likely have more sugar in your diet than you think. Adding a little sugar from the packets on the restaurant table is one thing, but many processed foods include sugar as an additive already. You are likely consuming sugar without even knowing it’s in the food you’re eating. Take a look at some of the worst offenders of sugar smuggling that could be in your refrigerator right now:

Ketchup – Generic brands of ketchup are well known for smuggling sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. One tablespoon of ketchup can have as much a 3.7 grams of it packed inside, which can equate to about a sugar cubes worth of sweetness.

Peanut Butter – Another offender of the high fructose corn syrup smuggling is your typical name brand peanut butter. In two tablespoons, you will find 3 grams of sugar, or just under one sugar cube.

Beef Jerky – How much can you really jam into a piece of dried meat? Turns out quite a lot more than you might have thought. Once piece of jerky, averaged at just under 1 ounce, can have as much as 1.8 grams of sugar. More if it’s a flavored brand of jerky.

Name Brand Iced Tea – Various brands of Iced Tea try to frame themselves as a healthier alternative to soda or other sugary drinks. But one 24 ounce can of generic Iced Tea can hold as much as 72 grams of sugar! That’s 18 cubes of sugar packed into a single drink.

Name Brand Light Yogurt – Even yogurt, which is labelled as a healthy way to start the day and snack on, contains up to 14 grams of sugar. Non “light” versions of the same yogurt can have even more, up to 27 grams.

Unsweetened Diet Cereal – This one almost makes me laugh. After all, unsweetened diet cereal appears to be one of the blandest things you can include in your diet, right? It looks as simple as baked corn flakes! How can they possibly cram sugar into that? Before you grab the non-frosted corn flakes off the store shelves, be sure to take a look at the nutritional facts. A typical generic brand of dietary cereal will have anywhere between 3 to 4 grams of sugar per cup. Just because it’s not labelled as “frosted” doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Unfortunately, added sugar is found in almost all packaged foods. I have a difficult time going into a local grocery store and finding foods that haven’t had sugar added for flavor. But there are ways of checking if sugar has been added, and even foods that don’t have any additives. This Thursday, check back in and I’ll tell you what to look for and how to avoid the additive sugars you can live without.