How to Become Sugar Savvy

 In Nutrition

If you’re having trouble meeting your nutrition, weight loss, or fitness goals — or just generally feeling tired and run down — you could be eating too much sugar.

When we talk about sugar, most people think ice cream, cookies, or soda, but sugar lurks everywhere in processed, packaged food. Just because a product is labeled “organic,” “all natural,” or “gluten free,” doesn’t mean it’s healthy or sugar free.

Before we get into how to figure out how much sugar you’re actually eating, let’s talk about the problem with sugar.

Consuming too much added sugar can put you at risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. Too much sugar also raises inflammation and increases triglycerides, a fat found in the blood. Excessive sugar has been linked to joint pain and it can damage the collagen and elastin in your skin. It’s no wonder reducing your sugar intake is one of the best things you can do for your health!

Recommended daily limits

How much sugar is too much? The American Heart Association (https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams) of added sugar for women, 9 teaspoons (or 36 grams) for men.

It’s surprisingly easy to exceed these recommended limits by breakfast. A simple iced vanilla latte from Starbucks (https://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/iced-vanilla-latte) contains 28 grams of sugar, and a lemon crunch yogurt parfait (https://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/yogurt-and-fruit/lemon-crunch-yogurt-parfait?foodZone=9999) has 35 grams.

Be careful of these foods

In addition to energy bars, yogurt, salad dressing, and ketchup, here are some other foods that typically contain high amounts of added sugar:

  1. Granola
  2. Flavored oatmeal
  3. Crackers
  4. Sports drinks
  5. Frozen meals

Sugar-free alternatives

Once you start looking, you’ll realize added sugar is lurking everywhere in packaged foods. To reduce your sugar consumption, first address your beverages. Avoid sweetened coffee drinks, sports drinks, and sparkling water with juice. Next, look for unflavored versions of sweetened foods like oatmeal, yogurt, and granola. Then start making your own salad dressing, and go for whole-fruit smoothies instead of juice.

When you do eat sugar — let’s say an amazing homemade dessert or your favorite cocktail — it should be something you savor and enjoy, and not an everyday occurrence. Cut out those sneaky sources of sugar and indulge in the things you love!

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