sugar

60+ Sneaky Names For Sugar – And Why You Crave Every One Of Them!

Sugar, ah honey, honey, I’m gonna make your life so sweet…  

You might call your beloved “sweet thing” or maybe you’ve got a song on replay in your head about the sweet stuff, but let’s put the cute nicknames and catchy old tunes aside… 

Because the granulated truth is that sugar is added to many processed foods, and manufacturers often use several different types, by several different names, so they can hide the real amount. 

If you think about it, it’s no wonder we crave sugar so often (and intensely) as it’s literally everywhere – and avoiding it is no easy task either. 

Let’s sprinkle some sweetness into what’s really in a name, and uncover a number of healthy, natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives. 

But, first…

What causes sugar cravings?

Reportedly up to 97% of women and 68% of men say they experience some sort of food craving, including cravings for sugar. 

Your body may experience a craving for the sweet stuff (sometimes rather intensely) because it needs sugar to function optimally, and for an energy boost. Sugar cravings can be just as reward-based, habitual or even psychological as much as they are physical.

Common reasons for craving are:

The sneaky sugars that may be hiding in your cupboard!

If you think about it, it’s no wonder we crave sugar so often (and intensely) as it’s literally everywhere – and avoiding it is no easy task either. 

Here are two of the simplest ways to identify hidden sugars: 

Look for ingredients listed on packaged foods ending in -ose and ingredients or foods labeled as ‘syrup’ — both are just code for SUGAR!

Here are 60+ other nicknames for the sweet stuff!

As adapted from Experience Life online magazine: 

  • Agave nectar
  • Barbados sugar (also called muscovado sugar)
  • Barley malt & barley malt syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice & cane juice crystals (sometimes called dehydrated or evaporated cane juice)
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar (or baker’s sugar)
  • Coconut sugar (or coconut/palm sugar)
  • Confectioner’s sugar (or powdered/icing sugar)
  • Corn sweetener/syrup & corn syrup solids
  • D-ribose
  • Date sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Erythritol
  • Fructose & crystalline fructose
  • Fruit juice & fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • Glucose & glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Granulated sugar
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Hydrolyzed starch
  • Invert sugar (or liquid invert sugar)
  • Jaggery
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltol
  • Maltose
  • Mannose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Panela sugar
  • Panocha cane sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup (or brown rice syrup)
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose (“table sugar”)
  • Sweet potato syrup
  • Sweet sorghum
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yacon syrup
  • Yellow sugar

Keep it sweet, but make it natural

There’s no need to avoid naturally-occurring sugars found in whole foods as fruit and veggies do contain small amounts of carbohydrate (sugar). But, they also contain beneficial nutrients and other health-promoting compounds like fibre and antioxidants. 

However, the negative effects of sugar consumption (that we’re made abundantly aware of in the media) are due to the staggering amount of added sugar that is present in the standard Western diet. 

At the most basic level, the most effective way to reduce your overall sugar intake is to eat a diet rich in whole and unprocessed foods. However, if you do buy packaged foods, be aware of all those different names that sugar goes by!  

FUN FOOD FACT: Typically the sugar you buy at the grocery store is a ‘centrifugal sugar product’ meaning that the crystals have been separated from the molasses by a machine at the refinery.  

But, most of what is sold as “brown sugar” is simply granulated sugar with a coating of molasses sprayed back on. 

Keeping that in mind, be a savvier shopper, and don’t be swayed by claims of ‘all natural’, ‘unrefined’ or ‘organic’ on sweetener packages.  

While these claims may even be true, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a healthier product, has less grams of sugar, fewer calories or confers any health benefit. Always beware the “health halo”, especially when it comes to packaged foods.  

But, when you are going to make a purchase of a sweetener or need to use one in a recipe (as we’ve done in our Protein Bar recipe!), here are your best bets…

The top 10 natural sugar alternatives:

  1. Xylitol (from birch sugar)
  2. Erythritol
  3. Honey, raw/unrefined
  4. Pure maple syrup
  5. Stevia
  6. Coconut (palm) sugar
  7. Medjool dates/date sugar
  8. Monk fruit
  9. Blackstrap molasses
  10. Yacon

Take a look through your cupboards and see if you have any of the ‘sneaky sugars’ we’ve listed that have likely been hiding in plain sight!

Then, consider replacing them with a more natural alternative that won’t cause such a negative impact to your health, and may help with those pesky sugar cravings too! 

RECIPE 

No-bake Protein Breakfast Bars 

There’s no better way to fight sugar cravings than with a regular dose of protein, healthy fats and some natural sweetness – all in a convenient grab ‘n go bar! 

Ingredients 

2 cups pitted dates (soaked in ½ cup water for 30 mins; retain soaking water)

1 ½ cups vegan protein powder (can be vanilla or chocolate flavoured if desired, but unsweetened)

1 cup raw walnuts or pecans

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

⅓ cup chia seeds

¼ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

¼ cup hemp seeds

3 tbsp raw cacao powder 

Preparation 

Place soak dates & soaking water in food processor, process on low until a smooth paste forms. (Be sure the dates were pitted!) 

Add all remaining ingredients to date paste and blend for 15 – 30 seconds until well incorporated. 

You may have to use a silicon spatula to scrape down the sides, then blend again for a few seconds. 

Scrape mixture out and press into a square pan that has been covered with parchment paper. 

Let sit in the fridge for a few hours to harden (or overnight), then gently pull from pan (teasing out with the edges of the parchment), place on a cutting board and cut into snackable bars. 

Replace bars into a tightly sealed container. Can be refrigerated for 2 weeks or frozen for up to a month. 

NOTE: freezing, then thawing may cause bars to get a bit “crusty” around the edges. 

REFERENCES 

Journal of Nutrition (March 2003): Sugar and Fat: Cravings & Aversions 

Huffington Post: Why Do I Crave Sugar? 

Food Matters: 5 Surprising Causes of Sugar Cravings 

Very Well Mind: Why You Self-medicate With Carbs and Sugar During Depression 

Experience Life: 61 Names for Sugar 

Food Watch (Catherine Saxelby): What Exactly Is Panela?

Canadian Sugar Institute: Sugar Basics 

Healthline: 19 Foods That Can Fight Sugar Cravings 

Healthline: Erythritol – Like Sugar Without The Calories