Image of little girl with sugar donut and apple

How much sugar do you and your family consume? If the majority of your food is processed, you’re likely consuming too much.

What exactly is processed sugar?

Processed sugar is sugar that has been refined so there is a fine texture and even flavor. It has fewer vitamins and minerals than unprocessed sugar. Try a naturally sweet food like pineapple, mango, or nectarine.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to about six teaspoons per day for women and nine for men, or 25 to 38 grams of sugar a day. Sugar is becoming increasingly easy to over consume since it is found in almost everything packaged, from juice and soda to the less obvious, including spaghetti sauce, yogurt and bread. With all of these hidden sugars, it is no surprise that Americans consume, on average, about 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. High levels of sugar consumption contribute to an array of health problems, including dental cavities, obesity and diabetes. The good news is that reducing your sugar intake may be easier than you think! Following are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Cut out sugar-sweetened beverages. This includes soda, sports drinks, fruit drinks and tea drinks. Sweetened beverages add calories to your diet without providing nutrients or even making you feel full. A single 20-oz soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar. Stick to beverages that contain 25 calories or less per 8-ounce serving such as water, seltzer, diet sodas, coffee and unsweetened tea.
  2. Satisfy your sweet tooth naturally. Consider giving into your sweet tooth more often with naturally sweet foods, such as fruit. You’ll be getting vitamins, fiber and phytochemicals that may also help to reduce your cancer risk.
  3. Watch out for “fat-free” snacks. One of the biggest myths is that if a food is fat-free it doesn’t make you fat. Fat-free foods are often loaded with sugar to improve their taste after the fat has been removed.
  4. Don’t skip meals. Try eating three meals and two snacks daily (or five small meals). For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, and then feel hungry and more likely to crave sweet snacks.
  5. Shop smarter. Read and compare food labels. Choose items that contain fewer grams of sugar. Make sure to check the ingredients list. Sugar is often a hidden ingredient disguised by many different names such as: high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, sucrose, syrup and table sugar. Ingredients are listed in descending order (with the largest ingredient listed first). If a sugar is among the first ingredients on the list, or there are several types of sugar listed, the product most likely contains a large amount of added sugar.
  6. Keep it out of the house! If sweets are not in the house you won’t eat them. Simple as that. One way to make this work is to “treat” yourself to something sweet outside of your home every now and then, such as a family trip to the ice cream shop or having a piece of cake at a birthday party.




Rebecca Ditkoff