One Small Change: Controlling Added Sugar

One Small Change: Controlling Added Sugar

By Gail Watson, contributing blogger

The amount of added sugar in our diets has been steadily rising, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Making one small change can help make a powerful difference in your health.

Where’s the Added Sugar?
Added sugars are the sweeteners in foods that don’t occur naturally. The sweetness of an apple or banana is natural sugar. Natural sugars bring with them vitamins, minerals and fiber, making them a much healthier choice. Added sugars are the sweeteners in soft drinks, candies, cakes and even your breakfast cereal. Added sugars provide ZERO nutritional value that for the typical American diet is now averaging 355 calories a day. That’s a lot of calories with nothing to show for them.

How Much?
Many folks consume more sugar than they realize. The American Heart Association suggests that women consume no more than 100 calories a day (6 teaspoons), and 150 for men (9 teaspoons). To put that into perspective:

  • 1 cup of coffee with 2 teaspoons of sugar = 35 calories (more if you round those spoons)
  • 1 average deli muffin = 110 calories of added sugar (about 7 teaspoons)


Having a muffin with coffee in the morning can put your total added sugar intake over the limit for women and at the maximum limit for men. And this is all before your day has gotten started!

Your Sweet Tooth
Each person has a sweetness threshold, which may have risen over the years. The good news is that you can lower it healthfully, and still feel satisfied. Not only can you eliminate empty calories, you can also bolster your nutritional intake with one small change!

This week’s goal: Make 1 to 2 small changes to reduce your added sugar

6 Small Changes You Can Make NOW

  1. Slowly cut back on the amount of sugar you put into your coffee or oatmeal. By slowly downshifting your intake your taste buds can adapt without knowing it.
  2. Opt for low or no calorie beverages- just one can of regular soda tops your limit for the day. Freshly brewed iced tea, water, or seltzer with a twist of lime are better options.
  3. Switch your afternoon granola bar for whole wheat crackers and peanut butter, or even a piece of fresh fruit.
  4. When baking at home, including weekend pancakes, dial down the amount of sugar in a recipe by one-third to one-half.
  5. The next time you go shopping, try to replace one package of sweet treats with a healthy alternative, such as fruit.
  6. To help resist eating sugary snacks, such as cookies and candies, keep them toward the back of the cupboard, and put healthier options, such as nuts or whole grain crackers toward the front.
  7. When you’re in the mood for cookies, opt for 2 instead of 3. Take your time to enjoy every bite. You might find that 2 are all you need to satisfy that sweet tooth.


TELL ME: Which small changes will you make to reduce added sugar?


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