A few weeks back I posted an article titled Is Sugar a Drug? I started the article talking about why sugar really wasn’t talked about in pharmacy school or if it was I missed that class. We did learn that ingesting large amounts can cause problems with weight gain, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
Then someone asked me the question/comment regarding how much sugar should be consumed daily. I really didn’t know that answer, so I looked into it.
What I found it out is
- who makes the recommendations
- how much sugar should be included in our diet kids, What was really alarming to me is looking at the amount of sugar in 7 items we ingest every day versus the amount of total sugar we should be having per day. Good luck, as this is a really hard thing to balance given our lifestyle and food habits.
So how much sugar do we require?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA)
- Men- 37.5 grams per day
- Women- 25 grams per day
- Kids (aged 2-18) 25 grams per day
As a compounding pharmacist I know how much 37 or 25 grams looks like on a scale. What I didn’t know was how hard it is to avoid sugar when it in the daily staples of every day eating. When I was growing up if we wanted sugary cereal we would add a teaspoon or if we want a lot we would add a tablespoon. But now check these items out as the amount of sugar in these products really started blowing my mind.
According to this blog post here are the top 7 items purchased at a grocery store
So Just looking at this list lets look at how much sugar is in 1 serving of each
- Beer- 1 can of Bud light has 109 calories, and about 13 grams of carbohydrates
- Soda- 1 can of regular soda has about 39 grams of sugar
- Cereal- 1 bowl of cereal contains 20 grams of carbohydrates
- Frozen Dinner- 1 frozen dinner contains about 38 grams of carbohydrates
- Chips & Snacks- 1 bag of Baked Lays contains 22 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of sugar
- Milk- 1 cup of 2% milk contains 12 grams of sugar
- Bread- 2 slices of honey wheat contain 26 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of sugar
What I found to be alarming is that by habit we are thought to only look at the calories in our diets and making sure we are getting enough and not to much. I never thought of looking at how much sugar is contained in the top 7 things we eat every day. Much less take a look at how 1 serving of each of the above relates to the amount of sugar we are supposed to get in a day. For example, a bowl of cereal and a 1/2 cup of milk would be 32 grams of sugar of my 35 grams of sugar per day. By lunch time I am able to have a sandwich (just bread) or a frozen dinner I am adding another 26 grams of carbs and 4 grams of sugar. As you can see just from two meals it is really easy to double the amount of sugar in your diet even if you avoid sodas, and sugary snacks.
But what about women & kids? According to the American Heart Association kids and women should only be ingesting 25 grams of sugar per day or the amount contained in 2 slices of honey wheat bread and you know that is impossible to only eat 2 slices of plain bread everyday.
So what is the answer? I don’t know. But I think the big problem is a lack of education and awareness of the problem.
If you give your kids GoGoSqueeze Applesauce it is still 12 grams of sugar for each pouch, but 1 apple contain 19 grams of fructose.
So what do I recommend?
I recommend educating yourself and your family members to not just look at total caloric intake and learn how to read the nutrition label. My son is 5 and he learning how to count objects in school so I am teaching him how to read numbers on the food labels. If he learns how much sugar he is supposed to eat daily and learn how to read food labels as least he has the potential to make decisions with all the information. What if he went 20 years and never knew how to read a food label?
2. Plan Your Sugar
Maybe the idea of planning an entire meal is going overboard and really hard to do. So what about trying to plan your sugar content for the day and loading up with other things to keep you full that have lower amounts of sugar.
3. More Natural Fruits and Vegetables
Here are some natural drinks and foods that have lower sugar content than processed food. Here are 9 items that can easily be added to a lunch or dinner to add fiber, nutrition, and something other than sugar.
Smoothie For A Meal Replacement or a Snack
It is really hard to eat healthy unless you are really trying to. Our Standard American Diet (SAD) makes it next to impossible. Then when you look at our work life balances and how we react to stress that makes it harder to cook well and eat something nutritious when we are under the gun. Probably the craziest thing I recommend is trying to get a salad in at least twice a day and REPLACE breakfast or a snack with a LifeCORE functional medicine smoothie.
However, everyone seems to have a YETI Cup these days so why not get into the habit of having a functional smoothie every day. Here are 3 situations that make more sense to make a smoothie rather than a meal.
- All you want is a quick snack
- You don’t want to start a full diet, but you want to start eating healthier
- You have a long commute and don’t have time to cook breakfast.
2 Scoops of LifeCore complete contains 6 grams of sugar, 2 cups of almond milk contains 4 grams of carbohydrates rather than 24 grams as in 2 cups of 2% milk.
For every serving of fruit make sure you get 2 servings of vegetables