More food label fun — Splenda is in everything too

splenda-in-stuff

So you know those Fruit2O waters that were basically double free at Jewel last week? I passed because they contain Sucralose (Splenda). Low carb MashupDad eats Splenda products like candy, which is a story for another day — but I’ve always hated it, so never consume anything with Splenda. The kids would have it occasionally, but as I’m reading more and paying more attention to food labels, I’m less comfortable giving it to them at all. (And I’m pretty sure it upsets Junior High Guy’s digestive system, so he hasn’t had any in months.)

And then when we were at Target today, I was about to grab the lower sugar Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal, but then paused to read the label. Yup. Instead of just making the packets less sweet, they choose instead to substitute Sucralose for some of the sugar. (And now that I’m reading further, I see that the regular contains a whopping 12g sugar per packet — ack. Those are NOT big packets! And I did buy a box of that, since I was so focused on the Splenda thing on the other, doh.)

The photo on the right is Capri Sun Roaring Waters, where you think, hey, “water,” it’s got to be better than their regular pouches of liquid HFCS. But look — you get BOTH Sucralose AND HFCS in these. Yum. ;)

I’ve been talking with my mom about how she lost so much weight over the past year and a half, and she attributes most of it to just reading food labels. I’m not getting rid of existing products in my house (except maybe this Capri Sun, which is really, really bugging me), but am working on making better choices from here on out. You can’t always assume that “lower sugar” means something just contains less sugar, or that the only thing you have to worry about with pickles is the sodium, or that the only things in your chopped garlic in water are chopped garlic and water, or that salsa shouldn’t have corn syrup in it — it’s taking  a while to get these things through my head, but we’ll get there.

  • What ingredients have you been surprised by on food labels recently?

P.S. — Never fear, I’ll still post deals on Capri Sun and Quaker low sugar oatmeal and Claussen and everything else; everyone makes their own food choices. I’m just kind of musing aloud about labels I’ve been surprised by and how difficult it is sometimes to make those choices, because who woulda thunk it?

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Comments

  1. Paula M says

    You are embarking on a journey that I and my family have been on for about three years now. Looking back I wish I would have taken a picture of my pantry and refrigerator from the beginning so that I could compare it to what it looks like now. The food we were consuming was making us sick! Real food is the way to go.

    • says

      It’s just amazing to me — I mean, if I go and buy a box of Twinkies, OK, I know what I’m getting and that it’s junk food and am making the conscious choice to do that. But our brains are conditioned to think: Oatmeal, healthy, Garlic, natural… thanks for putting up with me as I work out some of this stuff in print!

      • Paula M says

        I am actually enjoying watching the light bulbs turn on for you! Keep on sharing. You will reach far more people than I have.

        • DON OCONNELL says

          I 2ND THIS THOUGHT !!!!! Bring on more Organics, more Trader Joes, Whole foods, etc….. my family is about 2 1/2 years into this clean journey and LOVING IT!!!! I have not sprayed a thing in my yard in years and yes, I do have a GREAT lawn and an even better ORGANIC vegi garden and landscaping and flowers that attract many Bumble Bees, Butterflies and Humming Birds not to mention beautiful birds….. sorry for rambling but I am really happy to see this movement and even more excited that Rachel and family are well on their way…….

      • peaches says

        I never buy the instant oatmeal in the packages. In the first place I try to stay away from all that packaging, and plus I prefer oatmeal made from scratch. The reason why the oatmeal in the packages is so popular is because people want their oatmeal now, and not 10 minutes from now. I had a bowl of quick oatmeal which I got on sale last week at Jewel’s for breakfast this morning. The boxes of quick oatmeal are way cheaper than the packages, but it takes you 10 minutes to fix it. I added some Vietnamese cinnamon, which I got at the Spice House to the milk and oatmeal as I was cooking it, Their cinnamon is their biggest seller, and it is way better than anything you get in the grocery stores. . Penzey’s is another place that has wonderful spices. Penzey’s is owned by a different branch of the family, and originated in the Milwaukee area. I also added some Michigan blueberries that I got a deal on at the Evanston farmer’s market Saturday, and which are way better than any blueberries that you get in the supermarket, because they are picked a lot riper.

  2. Nancy says

    Yogurt is the biggest scam. People seem to think it is healthy; probably because it is marketed that way. A few years back, I wrote to Yopliat and asked them why they needed to add high fructose corn syrup to their yogurt. I think they stopped (last time I checked the label, there was none), but it’s still full of sugar. But that’s just about every yogurt out there. I give my 4-year-old plain, full-fat yogurt with berries or some honey and she loves it. So much garbage out there is marketed as being healthy, and it’s pretty annoying! I like junk food from time to time, but for the most part, we eat “real” food. And don’t get me started on the low-fat diet. The marketing of that is ridiculous. Healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and good butter are great for you!

    • peaches says

      Some people do really good on a low fat diet, and some don’t. I have a genetic cholesterol problem, and unfortunately I quit taking my medicine for a while when I did not have insurance, and I also worked for a family that had all kinds of contraband food such as butter, and Kraft mac and cheese, and cake, and when I finally went to the doctor in March, my cholesterol was 341. When I swore off all the food that I was not supposed to eat, and went on lipitor, and started exercising, my cholesterol dropped down to 186. There are some margarine’s that are as bad for you as butter, because they contain a lot of transfats, but there are also some that don’t contain any transfats, that are better for you than butter. Even with meds,. if I ate the typical 35% fat American diet, my cholesterol would still be 250.

    • Sarah says

      I remember reading the ingredients in Yoplait one time and the second ingredient was sugar! It is basically sugar milk. I used to buy the flavored Greek yogurts and recently switched to only buying plain Greek yogurt because of the sugar amount. Took some getting used to, but you are right about adding fruit and honey. Plus the plain has way more protein.

      • peaches says

        I make whole grain pancakes from scratch, and then I smear a small amount of low sugar jam on the pancake, and then I put plain yogurt on top of that, and then I put fresh fruit on top of the yogurt.

  3. Mandy says

    I’m so glad you see the light. I always read every label, every time, including fresh meat and produce and every package of the same item I buy. One time I looked at a package of fresh ground meat because the label looked odd to me and found that it had ground meat from at least 6 diff. countries!!!!! Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand, etc. How could they possibly track any contamination or know what kind of animal it really came from???? The word natural flavor also makes me nuts in stuff like juice and herbal tea. I don’t think a lot of people even know what plain food tastes like. I have found Splenda in a lot of items that never had it before. I know that we all use stuff that’s not really great for us, but, am amazed at how hard it is to eat just plain food if you’re not on top of the stuff they do. I also read sodium labels on fresh meat, as you would be surprised at how much of it is injected with sodium solutions, yet sits on a fresh meat counter. I hope we all pay more attention to what we eat and hope the companies we support hear us.

  4. Kristin says

    It’s not just sucralose you need to watch out for, but any ingredient ending in “-ose” or “-itol”, aspartame and saccharin. I read labels all the time, too, and try to stay informed… what catches me is when a product we are loyal to suddenly changes its formula. It is so frustrating. “Low-fat” generally translates into “more-sugar/sweetener-than-the-regular-version”, too.

  5. Maureen says

    I never bought any of those pouch drinks marketed to kids, even the ones they try to peddle as being “healthy.” They’re nothing but sugar water. Even 100% apple juice will rot their teeth – when I see people putting it in baby bottles I cringe. Water is all they need.

  6. patti says

    I’m glad to hear you point this out. We are trying to avoid these same things in our house and focus on fresh whole foods and that is trickier than I even thought possible. It’s a fantastic extra reminder and resource when you point these sneaky food items out for me!

  7. Stephanie says

    Me and my mom have always had to watch for the fake sugars (Splenda, Aspartame, Sorbitol, Stevia, etc) because they hurt our stomach. We always have to look at labels because even if something used to be okay, they may have changed it, such as the yellow Vitamin Water which used to be fake sugar free, but now has it. I have also noticed that even if something is not labeled sugar free or low sugar, it may have fake sugar in it.

    This past year I also had to become gluten, dairy, and most seasonings free. Because of this I have started consuming a lot less processed foods and have been buying more organic foods. I have been eating a lot more rice, meat, peanut butter, fruit, and veggies instead of other things.

  8. Anne says

    Rachel, this has been my pet peeve over the last few years, and I am glad you are writing about it. The first thing I noticed artificial sweeteners in was “reduced sugar” cereals. Then, accidentally made the same mistake with “reduced sugar” chocolate milk. For a while, Aldi ‘s had artificial sweeteners in their whole grain/multi-grain breads and regular buns, but have wisely removed it. I wrote to Swiss Miss a couple years ago because their new formulation of milk chocolate hot chocolate contained artificial sweeteners. It really irks me that these products are not identified by “light” or “diet” as they were in the past.

    • peaches says

      Hi- I drink hot cocoa, and I did not realize that Swiss Miss had sucrolose in it. I personally love Ghirardelli double chocolate cocoa, but they don’t put it on sale that often, although it was on sale B1g1F for a while last Spring. The last time I got how cocoa, I got Swiss miss at Sams Club. It was 60 packages for $6. The only other thing that I buy on occasion that I feel guilty on is diet pop, but I only drink it in the summertime. When it is 10 below, I have no desire to drink pop, and frozen yogurt.. I go through one carton a week, but that is something else that I have no desire to eat in the middle of the winter. I have been buying Kemp’s when it is on sale. I love their cherry frozen yogurt, but it seems like every time I go to Jewel they are out of it. I bought s=two bottles of salad dressing that I got on clearance at Jewel a few months ago for $.50, and it was ok, but it was way too sweet. The dressing had 11 grams of sugar. I am back to making my own vinaigrette from scratch again. It only takes me five minutes to assemble it. This last winter I also ate a lot of Tabernick frozen soup when it was on sale. You can find it in the frozen Kosher section, and it has no preservatives, and is mostly low fat and high fiber. . .

  9. Samantha says

    I made the same mistake with the Oatmeal – I bought it a few times until I read the label and was shocked! My daughter eats ALOT of oatmeal -so I finally switched to the McCains Steel Oats and put in my own brown sugar (no not organic but I probably should). I also like the plain oatmeal from Trader Joes (it’s gluten free) and in a pouch bag -you can make by microwaving it for 2 minutes so it’s quicker than the steel oats. I’m slowly starting to switch away from food that has more ingredients than it should.

  10. jaci says

    I have never been a label reader and something caught my eye my 3 yr old apple juice China really it literally made me sick to my stomach. I think it would help if anyone has any go to sites in regards to helping families that are looking to get back to basics in the kitchen.

  11. Carrie R says

    Thanks Rachel, we are also beginning to go “clean” with our foods. It is scary the things that are in the ingredients lists. I’ve been trying to buy things with 5 ingredients or less which is really hard. So many sneak in additives/preservatives. Going back to my grandmothers ways of canning fresh foods from our organic garden, purchasing lots of good quality veggies/fruits from farmers markets (which you also need to ask them how it’s grown- don’t assume) too. Keep on posting, I’m learning and enjoyed reading the comments by others.

    • peaches says

      I grew up on a fruit farm in Michigan, and fruit is generally a lot harder to raise organically than veggies. There has been a certified organic grower that has been selling organic blueberries for the same price as the conventional growers, and they have been really good. It is impossible to grow peaches anywhere near organically in the midwest because there is too much humidity. Most of the organic peaches are grown in California, where the climate is a lot drier than it is here. There is somebody at the Evanston market who grows his own apples, and only sprays them about a quarter of what most conventional growers do, and you can tell, because they have a lot of imperfection. They still taste good, but they just don’t look as pretty as the apples you find in the supermarket. As far as veggie growers go, if they sell edible weeds such as lambs quarters or purslane, and then claim all their veggies are organic, they almost always are. There is produce they sell at the farmer’s markets such as heirloom tomatoes, that most grocery stores will not touch, because they want perfect veggies. Whole Foods sells heirloom tomatoes, but I guarantee you that the tomato grower has to go through a lot of tomatoes to find tomatoes that Whole Foods will accept..

  12. Catherine says

    Aspartame is so much worse than Splenda. Many brands are starting to move away from aspartame, which may be why you see more of the other sweeteners being used. By the way, anyone that chews gum-check the package. Almost ALL of them contain aspartame, unfortunately.

  13. Becky says

    I too was disgusted that the Roaring waters were made with splenda. I didn’t even know until one day when “I” went to drink one and I noticed the taste of it right away. I won’t be buying roaring waters anymore. I don’t want my child ingesting splenda at such a young age or any sweetener for that matter.

    • says

      Here’s the ingredients on the apple juice Minute Maid ones I just bought at Target:

      CONTAINS PURE FILTERED WATER, CONCENTRATED APPLE JUICE, LESS THAN 0.5% OF: CALCIUM CITRATE (CALCIUM SOURCE), VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID), POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE.

      Potassium phosphate looks like a preservative from the google, but I don’t know anything about its impact.

  14. Jackie says

    I stopped buying hunt’s ketchup. They use to boast on their label that they had no HFCS. Then I noticed it was no longer on their label and when I read the label there it was, HFCS, and they never lowered the price on it. When I wrote the company asking why they are now using substandard HFCS and the price does not reflect the change. They told me I can buy their organic ketchup, which is a much higher price. No thanks!! My kids use ketchup on everything. I’ve also switched to natural peanut butter. Little by little we are making changes to what we eat around here too.

    • Anne says

      I am with you on that one, too. I don’t understand why they boast it so proudly, then quietly remove it. Barbeque sauce is another one that brands have been bouncing back and forth from HFCS. Garland Jack’s Secret Six is the one we’re currently using which is HFCS-free (at least most flavors are), in case anyone is in search of that.

      • jaci says

        Thank u for the comment I thought of it when I was in the isle at the grocery store and purchased your recommendation. Definitely will not be purchasing sweet baby rays anytime soon.

    • Helen says

      That annoyed me too! We always bought it because it didn’t contain HFCS. And then they quietly switched it to say “No Preservatives” without me even noticing, ugh!

  15. Jeanne says

    Glad to see this post. We too started eating only foods with few ingredients and that can be read. Have noticed as a family that we don’t get sick nearly at all, greatly reduced seasonal allergies and no headaches anymore. Our tastes have changed as well where much of the processed food does not taste good at all.

  16. Rebecca says

    I posted this on the reader request post, but just in case : juice boxes, look for Hansens and Apple & Eve. They sell these at Costco too and last month I noticed Costco has their own Kirkland as well. I love the fruit & veggie juice ones because they are watered down. Yes, I know it’s hard to pay for water, but I water down the juice my kids get at home, I love that I don’t have to give them straight juice juiceboxes, too! Apple & Eve also makes a watered down juice box.

  17. Helen says

    I’ll admit it’s been nice watching you make these switches. I’ve seen plenty of “deal” bloggers simply stop wanting to have all these foods in their own home! I am disappointed with the oatmeal as well. With food allergies, we always look for some items that make it convenient to travel, whether in a hotel or at relatives’. So I figured low-sugar oatmeal would be a good buy, but nope. :( I did buy the Thomas’ limited edition Apple English muffins without reading (sounded so good, and they were!) and noticed at home they contained Splenda. Sheesh!

  18. Nancy says

    I stopped eating foods with artificial sweeteners back in 1999. I kept getting headaches that year and I couldn’t figure out why initially. Then I realized that I got headaches on days that I brought light yogurt as part of my lunch. The yogurt had aspartame in it. Aspartame is like a poison to my body. I have (by mistake) consumed aspartame a handful of times since 1999 and each time it gives me an instant headache. Splenda followed suit within a few years of that so I learned that they are both evil. I used to have to just avoid foods that were “light” or “diet”. But now it is crazy how they are being put into all kinds of products. I do read labels on everything now. I also avoid any liquid being served at a party or event. You would be surprised at how many people serve Crystal Light as their lemonade at a party or diet hot chocolate at an event in the wintertime. If I stop at a kids’ lemonade stand, I just give them the money take the lemonade and then pour it out when they are not looking. I have so many friends and family members hooked on diet soft drinks and they consume liters and liters of it a week – I try to explain that it is not good to be putting all that in their bodies, but they just think “it has zero calories so why should I care.” Beware of artificial sweeteners!!!

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