How much sugar do you consume every day? If you’re like most people I ask, you probably don’t know exactly. According to a 2010 USDA estimate, if you are an average American eating an average American diet, you are consuming a jaw-dropping 132 pounds of sweeteners per year! This includes 66 pounds of cane sugar, 64.5 pounds of corn-derived sweeteners, and 1.5 pounds of honey or other edible syrups.
So, where is all this sugar is coming from? According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the majority is from soda, sports/energy drinks, and sweetened fruits drinks. Additional sources include many processed foods such as cakes, cookies, and other desserts, as well as breakfast cereals, granola/energy/power bars and pre-packaged snacks.
Here’s the scary part – consumption of 132 pounds of sugar per year translates to ¾ cup (36 teaspoons) of added sugar per day – that’s 580 calories per day! This level of consumption will set you up for a pound-a-week rate of weight gain. And if you are trying to lose weight, forget about it.
Look for ways to cut back on sugar every day.
The American Heart Association guideline for added sugar is no more than 100 calories a day for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That’s an acceptable daily sugar intake of about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men. Check out these tips to help you lower your daily sugar intake, lose weight quicker, and live a healthier life.
- Do it gradually. Ease your way into it consuming less sugar. If you are a soda drinker, for example, try having a bottle or glass of water every other time you reach for a soda. There is no need to do it all at once; in fact, the cold turkey approach could backfire causing you to crave it, give in, and then give up before you make any real progress.
- Add less to your food. Cut back on the amount you stir in your coffee and sprinkle on your oatmeal every morning. A little less sugar here and a little less there will add up by the end of the day, week, and year.
- Read labels. The best way to know if the processed food you’re eating contains sugar is to be aware of its many aliases. Sugar by any other name is still sugar, and the list is long: brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, polyols, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, sorbitol, turbinado sugar, and xylitol.
- Go half-and-half. There’s nothing wrong with a little compromise. For example, if you are used to eating a sweetened breakfast cereal such as Honey Nut Cheerios, blend it half-and-half with plain unsweetened Cheerios. You can do the same with sweetened yogurt or any other food with added sugar. Eventually you may want to go all the way with the unsweetened version.
- Find lower sugar alternatives. Rather than giving up your favorite sweet treats all together, look for healthier options and eat them in moderation. This baked apple recipe for example, is an excellent alternative to apple pie with a big scoop of ice cream. Instead, top them with just a dollop of ice cream and you’ll have a delicious dessert – one of my favorites.
Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD
Would you like to improve your eating habits before the holidays arrive? I can help you find simple ways to get back on track so you can feel better, have more energy, and lose some weight.
LET’S TALK. I look forward to speaking with you.
If you need help creating a healthy eating plan, give me a call @ 732-494-1149.