The New York Times recently developed an interactive tool to help us see how hard it is to stay under the recommended max of 50 grams of sugar per day.
This tool accompanied an Op-Ed written by an New York Times reporter who had successfully eliminated sugar from his diet for an entire month.
For most Americans, avoiding added sugar for an entire month would be hard – very hard in fact. But, paying attention to how much sugar you eat, what kind of sugar you eat and where you get your sugar is a good thing.
Added sugar is such a big deal that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is going to start requiring companies to list total sugar and added sugar separately on the new nutrition labels hitting shelves next year.
Commit to Cutting Sugar from Your Diet
If you aren’t ready to cut sugar out of your diet completely for 30 days like the author of the Op-Ed, maybe try it for a week. At the least, I would strongly encourage you to make a commitment to
really read your nutrition labels and monitor your sugar intake for a month.
You will likely be surprised how much sugar you actually eat without even tasting it, and if you’re adventurous enough to try eliminating added sugar for any period of time, you may find your taste buds have changed by the end of the experience.
Recognizing Sugar in Different Foods
We all know ice cream, cakes, candy and regular soda taste sweet, so when we eat these things we are well aware they contain lots of sugar. You might not be as aware of how much sugar is in other foods like yogurt, granola bars, peanut butter, crackers and even bread. Additionally, since we as Americans do eat so much sugar both knowingly and unknowingly, we are desensitized and often do not recognize many foods with added sugar as being sweet.
During your month of sugar education, aim to eat 25 grams or less of added sugar per day and try hard not to exceed 50 grams or 12 teaspoons of added sugar every day.
Moderation is Key to a Healthy Diet
Knowledge is power and moderation is the key to a healthy diet. By reading labels for a month, you too can become aware of how to make smarter choices to avoid hidden sugar. This new knowledge will help you make lasting changes in your diet and, who knows, maybe you will find some new products without added sugar to love.
About Megan Woods
Megan Woods is a registered dietitian with the WakeMed Energize program. Consultations with dietitians are frequently covered by insurance and can be very beneficial to help you implement reasonable, sustainable dietary changes. Schedule an appointment with an outpatient dietitian today.