Ask the nutritionist.

Q: I'm trying to cut my family’s sugar intake, but it seems to be everywhere. Any tips on easy ways to reduce how much sugar we’re eating?

A: Sugar is a type of simple carbohydrate that can be found naturally in foods like fruits, grains, dairy products and vegetables. It can also be added into foods for flavor and to improve food quality and texture. I often recommend taking a good look over all the foods you and your family are consuming with added sugars first to see if there is somewhere you and your family could make changes. Start first with foods that may have “sneaky” added sugars where there may be a product that has a lower amount of added sugar where taste is not as largely impacted.

Here are the top 5 “sneaky” foods to take a look at in your pantry and some lower added sugar food product suggestions.

1. Peanut Butter

• Natural Peanut Butter (e.g. Teddy’s)

2. Yogurt

• Higher fat yogurts

• Greek or Icelandic Style Yogurt

3. Canned/Dried Fruit

• No Sugar Added Applesauce

• Canned Fruit packed in its own juice

• Dried fruit without added sugar (i.e. raisins, apricots)

4. Granola Bars

• Kind, Rx Bars

5. Cereals

• Steel Cut, Old Fashioned or Plain Instant Oatmeal

• Puffins Cereal

• Plain Cheerios

• Honey Bunches of Oats

Other: foods labeled as “low fat” like salad dressings, baked goods, crackers and sauces. Often the fat of these products is taken out and is replaced with sugar for flavor. My recommendation is to go for the regular higher fat option instead.

I do caution parents to avoid “restricting” foods that your child enjoys and instead make simple swaps over time. Completely restricting/avoiding “fun” foods that contain sugar like candy, cookies and other treats that your child enjoys may cause them to feel like they need to overindulge when they are out of the house.

Lauren Sharifi is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and food blogger at biteofhealthnutrition.com. Lauren works in private practice in Brighton at ASF-Peak Health and is passionate about helping individuals and families become competent eaters that find joy out of eating. Have a question for Lauren? Email BSPeditor@gatehousemedia.com.