Sugar. That ooey-gooey, melt in your mouth, brightly colored, creamy, dreamy goodness your sweet treats are made of. The one that gives you that high of sweet happiness as you eat it… and that low a bit after that leaves you craving more.
I just finished watching the documentary ‘The Sugar Film’and found it to be an interesting way of highlighting how the foods we eat (i.e. Sugar) impact our health. It is highlights the fact that processed foods are the base of the American diet. If you read the labels, you will more than likely find some form of sugar in the majority of these items.
I don’t think Americans are truly aware of the amount of added sugar in their foods. While the new food labels coming out soon will state how much added sugar is in a food is a step in the right direction, more change is needed. Most people don’t understand how many teaspoons equal a gram. (FYI- one teaspoon equals 4 grams.) I believe if we listed the equivalents of sugar in teaspoons on labels more people may think twice when trying to make healthier choices. This is a unit of measure Americans are more familiar with.
So many times when working with clients I realize how little people know about what is healthy. America, we’ve gotten ourselves into a mess! I hate to single out one food as a ‘bad’ food, but I do think things need to change when it comes to sugar. Our children need to be eating healthier foods and so do their parents. Yes, this means less sugar, also less processed, and fried. We’ve developed such sweet palates we think having sweets throughout the day is the norm.
The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommend not eating more than 10 percent of your calories as sugar. Although, most Americans don’t know how many calories they should be eating in the first place. They don’t know where to even begin figuring out how much sugar that is.
Here’s an example to help give perspective: One 12oz can of Coca-cola has 39g of sugar. Most people know that’s quite a bit- this message is beginning to be relayed. But when I tell you that equals 9.75 teaspoons, how does that sound?
Another Example: One Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tart has 16g of sugar, which equals 4tsp. Double that though because most people eat both tarts in a pack, so you’ve got 8tsp just at breakfast. More if you drink juice or sugary coffee drinks.
Say you eat 2,000 calories in a day. That means limiting sugar to 200 of those calories. But how many calories are in a gram? Again, the typical person doesn’t know how much this is. Since there are 4 calories per gram in carbohydrates, the 12oz can of Cocoa-Cola we mentioned above would be 156 calories from sugar. So according to the USDA this person has 44 discretionary calories left this day.
So next time your shopping, I want you to think twice. Take a look at the ingredient list on some other items you may not always think of containing sugar.
Here are a few to watch for:
Reduced fat peanut butter
Fruit and vitamin waters
Those are just a few examples. There are so many more. I encourage you to be more aware, not only read the nutrition facts label but the ingredient list too. The ingredients are listed starting with what is in the item most to least. The ingredient list can tell you much more than just the facts label.
I hope this helps! What are some foods you didn’t realize had added sugars?