The guidelines for nutrition seem to shift like the wind. Years ago, before we all knew better, sugar was promoted as a way to lose weight.
We look at this ad from 1968 now with amusement and a good amount of disbelief. After all, who would ever recommend sugar as a weight loss aid?
Back then, a lot of people did. A lot of people, including doctors also said cigarettes were good for you and you see where that got us.
It has taken years of education and medical knowledge to slow down the smoking rates. And I have a feeling it is going to take years of education to slow down the obesity rates. Sugar is not the only thing that has contributed to obesity. The availability of fast food, the way we live our lives, and the fact that adults and kids spend more time staring at a screen than moving around are all contributors to our current obesity crisis.
The newest recommendations from the UN indicates that we should limit our sugar intake to 5 -10 percent of our overall diet. When I read the article, I got to thinking about how much sugar that is for a typical person. I did a little research, and although the numbers vary from person to person, the average American consumes 136 pounds of sugar each year, which translates to a little more than a third of a pound of sugar each day.
Just for fun, I measure out a third of a pound of sugar on my scale for you to see.
That one-third of a pound of sugar has about 530 calories and about 132 g of sugar. Are you horrified yet?
The current recommendations say that a person should eat between 5 and 10 percent of their total caloric intake from added sugars. (Note that they are not counting naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruit and dairy products.)
Let’s take a look at that scenario.
Imagine that you are consuming 1,500 calories a day. When you do the math you find that 5 percent of 1,500 is 75 calories and 10 percent is 150 calories. Because sugar has 4 calories per gram, you can easily determine how many grams of sugar you could eat.
5 percent of 1,500 = 75 calories. 75 calories is about 19 grams of sugar, or about 4.75 teaspoons. (There are about 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon.)
10 percent of 1,500 = 150 calories. 150 calories is about 38 grams of sugar, or a little more than 9 teaspoons.
As a visual comparison, on the left is about 19 grams of sugar and on the right, about 37 grams.
You can see that’s not much sugar but it is much less than the amount in the first photo! To help you out further, here are a few popular foods with their sugar contents:
- Milk chocolate bar – 5.75 teaspoons of sugar
- Coca cola (one 12 ounce can) – 7 teaspoons of sugar
- Red Bull (one can) – 7.5 teaspoons of sugar
- Cheerios – 1.1 teaspoons of sugar
- Shredded Wheat – 0.1 teaspoons of sugar
- Muffin (one chocolate chip muffin) – 4.75 teaspoons of sugar
- Motts Apple Sauce(cinnamon or original) – small serving cup has 22-23 grams sugar or 5+ teaspoons
- Jell-O Fat Free Pudding Snacks, Chocolate Vanilla Swirls 100-Calorie Packs – 1 cup – 17 grams sugar, or slightly more than 4 teaspoons
- Little Debbie Swiss Rolls – 2 cakes has 27 grams sugar, or 6.75 teaspoons
- Quaker Chewy Dipps Chocolate Chip Granola Bars – 1 bar has 13 grams sugar, or 3.25 teaspoons
- Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Cinnamon Roll – 1 envelope has 13 grams sugar, or 3.25 teaspoons
- Minute Maid Lemonade – 8 ounces = 29 grams sugar, or 7.25 teaspoons
This is just a small list of foods to give you an idea of how quickly you can consume a lot of sugar.
Some people go completely sugar free when they are trying to lose weight or feed their kids a healthier diet. I’m all for that if that is your choice. Other people, like me, try to find a balance between planned indulgences and a strict diet. Whatever works for you is fine.
I probably ate more sugar than the new recommendations when I was losing weight, but I still lost 158 pounds in 14 months. That being said, I was judicious with sweets and only had them on occasion and only if they were very excellent.
[bctt tweet=”Controlling sugar intake won’t help you lose weight if you are overindulging in other foods.”]
I would encourage you to educate yourself about the amount of added sugars in the foods you most commonly consume. You may be surprised to find that your favorite spaghetti sauce, yogurt, or granola bar has your entire added sugar allotment for the day. One way to control your sugar intake is to make as much of your food as possible. If you are making your own sauces, you do not have to add a single bit of sugar if you do not want to. Ditto for salad dressings, breading for baked chicken, or frozen popsicles.
How do you feel about the new sugar guidelines? Doable or not? Diane
I hope you will share this post with your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest followers! Diane