sugar, sugar, everywhere

Hi all, I'm working on a series of blog posts about challenges we may face when implementing "real food" habits, and how to tackle them.

In the meantime, here is some clarification on the confusing world of sugar....

Newly updated nationwide data shows that Americans of all ages are consuming more than double the recommended amount of added sugars. Are you shocked? Neither am I.

apple cider donut with delicious cinnamon sugar...fall treats like this should be a once a year treat, not once a week.

apple cider donut with delicious cinnamon sugar...fall treats like this should be a once a year treat, not once a week.

We have been hearing this for some time now. Americans are addicted to sugar. However, it seems like nutrition guidelines and recommendations just generate confusion. 

Why we're confused:

Americans consume too much added sugar, therefore guidelines suggest decreasing sugar intake. But wait, guidelines also say to limit fat intake because it clogs your arteries (false). Oh, and don't forget that too much protein is bad for your kidneys (also false). It's no wonder we are confused. And it's certainly no wonder Americans are fat (these recommendations leave a green light for carbohydrates and thats about it).

Lets say sugar is the worst (because it is), and you decide you do not want to exceed your "added sugars" for the day. Well, according to guidelines make sure you don't consume more than...(you'll be surprised how ridiculously complex it is to finish this sentence...) 

  • 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: No more than 5-15% of calories should come from solid fats and added sugars. WHY ARE FATS TIED IN HERE!!!?? This makes me want to scream. Fats and sugars are not metabolized (broken down) in our body's the same way.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): Proposed change in guidelines to 5% of calories from added sugars. This implies that you know how many calories you eat, and how many calories are in sugar. Also, why are we even recommending added sugars? Maybe it should just be "as little as possible."
  • US sugar consumption data was just updated based on our national health survey (NHANES). Commentary on this graph discusses added sugar intake as "teaspoons of sugar per calories." Adults consume 8.4 teaspoons of added sugar per 1000 calories. Does anyone know what that means in real life

Teaspoons, grams, calories, percentages, equating sugar with fats; they could not make it more confusing.

25 g / 4 g = 6.25 teaspoons

Some clarification:

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon

Added sugars will come from packaged, processed, not "real" foods. Many tend to think of soda and sugary drinks as our main source of added sugars. But, sugar is hiding in most packaged foods. We may not be aware that we are feeding our sugar addiction when we eat BBQ sauce, ketchup, marinara sauce, low-fat peanut butter (ew), oatmeal, the list goes on. These foods feed our addiction without our awareness.

Sugar pseudonyms:

Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, invert sugar, honey, glucose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, syrup, beet sugar, barley malt, turbinado sugar

(this list does not include the names for artificial sweeteners which may also be fueling your sugar cravings...saving that discussion for another day ;)  )

What is the best way to work through all of the added sugar confusion and conflicting recommendations? EAT REAL FOOD! 


Is there a product you were shocked to find sugar in? I'd love to hear about it.

Until next time.