The World Health Organization recommends that we consume 10 percent or less of our overall caloric intake from added sugars and the American Heart Association recommends that we only eat no more than 5 percent of our calories from added sugars.
As a reference point, 5 percent of an average woman’s daily calorie allotment is 100 calories, or about 6 teaspoons (24 g) of sugar. For men, that’s about 9 teaspoons of sugar (36 g) or 150 calories. Guess what? The average cola has 17 teaspoons of sugar or about 68 g. As we get started talking about sugar in our diet, here’s another reference point to keep in mind: A single teaspoon of sugar is about 4 g of sugar.
Here are some foods with their sugar content listed:
Smoothie King’s Peanut Power Plus Grape Smoothie has 22 teaspoons of sugar
1 Pop-Tart has 20 grams of sugar, or about 5 teaspoons of sugar
Cheerios (1 cup) has 1 g of sugar
Special K (1 cup) has 4 g of sugar
NutriGrain cereal bas has 13 g of sugar
Carrots (8 baby carrots) has 4 g of sugar
Grapes (1 cup) has 20 g of sugar
3 Chips Ahoy cookies have 11 g of sugar
2 Fat Free Fig Newtons have 12 g of sugar
1 sweet potato has 9 g of sugar
Uncle Sam’s original cereal has less than 1 g of sugar
What does this mean to you? If you are like me, you are not as satisfied after eating high sugar junk foods as you are after having foods that are packed with protein or healthy carbohydrates. This is often because eating a lot of sugar at one time causes our blood sugar and insulin to spike and then crash fairly quickly. This drop often makes us feel more hungry and leaves us craving more of those foods that gave us that blood sugar “high” in the first place.
Think about it this way. If you eat a donut, can’t you easily eat one or two more? If you eat a candy bar, are you really full? If you have a handful of chocolate chips, can’t you fit more of those same chips into your belly pretty quickly without feeling overly full?
What happened to me as an obese person was that foods high in added sugars often left me wanting more and more and more and more. And I gave in quite willingly. Sugar alone did not make me fat, but eating a diet high in processed foods that happened to be high in sugar certainly contributed to my obesity.
Real life for me was learning to balance my nutrient intake. I did not turn away from foods with added sugar in them all at one time. It has been a gradual process over the years. Although people who are militant about only clean eating might disagree, my experience is that you can lose weight and still have sugar, but you have to learn to control your caloric intake, which can be hard if you are craving sugary, high-fat foods.
Real life often involves taking a close look at your diet, seeing where your weak spots are, and working toward fixing them. These days I read the labels of foods diligently and choose carefully. I do not drink sodas, add sugar to coffee or tea, rely heavily on processed foods, or bake all the time. I do eat foods that have sugar such as fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and sometimes have dessert. However, I also plan my diet carefully so I have a balance in my life.
How do you handle sugar in your diet? Do you keep track, do you avoid it altogether, or do you not worry about it too much? Diane