One of my new year’s resolutions is to cook more. This year I took a leaf out of Nigel Slater’s book and made soup on New Year’s Day (I’m reading his Kitchen Diaries). The aromatic ham and bean soup tasted delicious and was quickly devoured by my boyfriend and me.

‘Why don’t I do this more often?’ I inevitably asked myself. Why indeed. The soup took minutes to make and contained everyday items you’d find in any supermarket.

You see, the problem with ready-made food is we’re never quite sure what’s in it. Even when we’re trying to make healthy choices, processed foods are nearly always loaded with sugar, salt and additives to provide flavour and longevity.

Here are some ‘healthy’ items we should think twice about before buying.

1. Soup. Did you know a tin of Heinz cream of tomato soup contains five teaspoons of sugar? Trust me, a homemade version is healthier and tastier.

2. Bread. Add a side of sliced bread to our tin of Heinz soup and we’re in for a sugar rush. Brown bread isn’t necessarily a safe bet as it could get its shade from caramel colouring. Opt for rye, spelt or ezekiel bread instead. You can read more about healthy bread options here

3. Yoghurt. One pot of flavoured yoghurt can contain up to six teaspoons of sugar. Low fat varieties are often packed with sugar in place of fat. Plain and Greek yoghurt are great high protein alternatives.

4. Sushi. Before I became a personal trainer, I used to buy supermarket sushi believing it to be a high protein/low fat alternative to my lunchtime sandwich. This didn’t just leave a hole in my wallet; it didn’t do much for my waistline either. Ready-made sushi is high in Iow fibre carbs, salt and sugar. Try sashimi, which is low in sugar, low calorie and 100% protein.

5. Bottled sauces. A pile of sweet and sour chicken made with ready-made sauce could contain as many as seven teaspoons of sugar. Jarred pasta sauces are also loaded with the sweet stuff, as are ketchup and salad creams. Homemade yoghurt or tomato-based sauces are a better option. Balsamic vinegar, chilli oil (sparingly) or lemon can be used in place of condiments.

6. Protein bars. My go-to snack is now off limits. Depending on the brand, protein bars can contain up to 20 grams of sugar, not to mention lots of saturated fat and nasty artificial fillers. I’m planning to make my own protein bars with whey powder, oats and nuts.

7. Sports drinks. Unless we’re running a marathon, we don’t need energy drinks. These sweet beverages are designed to provide a quick hit of glucose and have at least 30 grams of sugar per bottle.

8. Crackers. Unfortunately crackers are full of unhealthy fats and can contain as much sugar as a cookie. A rice cake or slice of apple makes a tasty base for cheese.

9. Granola/sweetened muesli. Probably no surprise that moreish granola will make your blood sugar skyrocket. Since switching to oats with fruit and yoghurt for brekky, I’ve dramatically cut my sugar intake.

10. Fruit juice. 150ml of fruit juice is one of our five a day, but don’t imagine necking five glasses of OJ gets the job done. Juicing releases fruit sugar which really adds up in such a concentrated and easily digestible form. Stick to one glass per day and hydrate with water and squash.

11. Sweeteners/sugar substitutes. Although sweeteners are low in calories and don’t contain any sugar, I’m adding them to this list of offenders because they are similarly damaging to health. Sweeteners don’t re-educate our palate, meaning a sweetener in place of sugar will still give us the high, followed by the crash that leaves us craving more sweet treats. Sweeteners have been linked to metabolic disorders, liver problems and weight gain.

Over consumption of sugar won’t just make us overweight, it will impact our health, appearance, sleep patterns and energy levels. Sugar is implicated in serious illnesses such as type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression and cancer. The NHS recommends that we should eat no more than 30 grams of added sugar per day. Avoiding processed foods will help us stay under the limit.