Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cut the Added Sugar

So much added sugar in our diets.  We notice most of the added sugar in our diets, like the added sugar in candy, ice cream or desserts.  But so much added sugar is “stealth sugar” in our foods.  Manufacturers love to add sugar to common foods like bread and pasta sauce.  There is also so much confusion about “sugar” as some people avoid “sugar” and then end up avoiding milk because it has lactose, a natural sugar in milk. Or they stop eating fruit like bananas, as they mistakenly say, “bananas are high in sugar”, when bananas have NO ADDED SUGAR.  So, what should you know about added sugar?  Consumer Reports has provided an excellent guide called, Eat Smarter, Eat Healthier which includes information about we can cut back on the added sugar in our diet.  

Can you enjoy some added sugar?
Yes.  Who doesn’t like dessert, some ice cream, some cookies or other treat every day?  I do.  The problem is we eat way too many foods with added sugar and manufacturers have sneaked added sugar into so many foods that we aren’t even aware of all the added sugar we take in each day.

How much Added Sugar do Americans eat each day?
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reports Americans eat:
17 teaspoons (73 grams) of added sugar
Teenagers consume 20 teaspoons (82 grams) a day – the most of all age groups – sugared soda anyone??  The Centers for Disease Control found that kids are now getting about 16% of their total calories from added sugar.  
How much Added Sugar should we get in a day?
  • 9 teaspoons men (36 grams) or 150 calories
  • 6 teaspoons women and children (25 grams) or 100 calories
  • Children under 2 should have no added sugars in their diet according to the American Heart Association. 
American Heart Association

Is Added Sugar linked to weight gain?
Consumer Reports claims:  Sugar:  The Gateway to Weight Gain. Yes, we should be “cutting the carbs” in our diet, the added sugar carbs.  They report that manufacturers have convinced us saturated fat is bad so we began buying low fat foods loaded with added sugar and refined flour.  This was no healthier than the saturated fat we were trying to avoid.  The high sugar, refined flour foods may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in our country and it related diseases, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Consumer Reports highlights a study from 2015 of 1,700 adults that found people with the highest intake of sugars were 54% more likely to be obese or overweight compared to those who had the lowest intake of sugars.
Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D, R.D. is quoted as saying, “It’s settled science that a high intake of added sugars in the American diet, is associated with an increased risk of overweight and obesity-conditions that are directly linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes.”

How to find the stealth added sugars in foods:
Manufacturers make it hard to limit the added sugars in our diet.  Not only do food manufacturers add sugar to so many foods but they add sugar that many of us don’t even recognize as sugar.  New food labels are coming that will tell you how much added sugar is in a food, but until then look at the ingredients to see if sugar has been added. So many people buy what they think is “juice” only to find it is a “juice drink” with lots of added sugar.  If sugar is one of the ingredients, it is not 100% juice. 
Cereal – look for how much sugar has been added to the cereal you or your child eats. 

Added Sugars
 Dr. Sears in his book, The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood, teaches kids to look for cereals with less than 6 grams of added sugar per serving. And to choose cereals with no artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.
Other suggestions Dr. Sears makes in his book to cut back on added sugars:
  • Soda:  replace with water, or sparkling water and 100% fruit juice          
  • Juice Drinks (and fruit punch, fruitades like lemonade)–  replace with water mixed with 100% juice.  Consumer Reports notes that 7% of the calories of kids comes from fruit drinks and soda.
  • Hi sugar cereal – choose a low sugar cereal and add cinnamon, berries, raisins
 And look at the yogurt you are buying to see how much sugar has been added. 

Sweetened tea is big in the south and it certainly tastes good.  To cut back on the added sugar, my daughter first mixed the sugar sweetened ice tea half and half with unsweetened ice tea.  She gradually kept adding more and more unsweetened ice tea and now just chooses the unsweetened ice tea in a restaurant.  Ice tea is quite healthy but sugar sweetened ice tea is not so healthy.
Look for the hidden added sugars in bread, pasta sauce, salad dressings, and peanut butter.  Cutting back on these hidden sugars is a way to get some of the added sugars out of your diet.
Hidden sugars can include:  agave syrup, cane sugar, coconut sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, raw sugar, honey and words that end in -ose, like fructose, maltose, sucrose.

So try to cut back on the carbs in your diet, the added sugar carbs.  Look at labels this week, look at the ingredients.  Are there foods you can swap out to get rid of some of the added sugar?  Choose real juice instead of fruit drinks.  Choose a cereal with less added sugar.  Choose pasta sauce with no added sugar.  One almost has to be a detective to cut back on the added sugar in their diet.  I enjoy desserts and know that the desserts I eat have added sugar.  But we do try to cut the added sugar in our bread, peanut butter, pasta sauce and we always buy 100% real juice. 


  1. Hello there,
    Everything thats in this post I agree with. Some people seem to believe that sugar or sugar sweetened beverages are not a big factor in becoming over weight and obese. There's substantial about of evidence showing how sugar is a main contributor to weight levels

    I appreciate bogs and posts like this that their information is backed by science.


  2. Thank you for your comment. Glad you liked this post and you make a good point about sugar and sugar sweetened beverage contributing to weight gain. WebMD is a great resource to use. Go Nutrition!