The Sour Side of Sugar


A quick look at my shopping cart on a recent trip to the market shows that when it comes to food choices for my family and myself, I clearly have multiple personalities. The “angel” that I shop with convinces me to buy the kale again (“you won’t throw it out this time, I promise.”) while the “devil” throws the Oreos and instant hot cocoa in the cart with a wink (“just in case you get another snow day” he reasons.)

Recently I was watching an episode of the Katie Show and the topic was sugar and the effects of eating too much of it. Those who consume the most sugar are twice as likely to die from heart disease. I’ll admit it,  if I have one major food weakness, it’s sugar. I have more than a sweet tooth—I have a whole mouth full of teeth that love and crave sugar. While my daughters seem less obsessed with sugary treats, my son doesn’t consider a day complete without them.

The show discussed how food labels have a % daily value for things like fat, cholesterol and sodium. This way a consumer knows approximately how much of the daily value of this item they are consuming with each serving. But while the sugar amount is listed, the daily value % is not, and this is because experts are not sure how much sugar is really okay. It’s something I had never noticed before when reading nutrition facts on packages.

It turn out that a good guideline is 24 grams of sugar in 24 hours (meaning added sugar, not natural sugar in fruit, etc). That seems simple enough.

I discussed this with my son, my partner is mass sugar consumption, and we both agreed we would try to stick to this rule.

I thought we consumed a lot of sugar, but it turns out we consume A LOT of sugar. One small Gatorade (12 fl oz) has 21 grams. That’s practically the whole day’s sugar in one bottle. Pure organic maple syrup has 14 grams in only one tablespoon serving.  Eating pancakes with syrup for breakfast means we consumed TWO days of the recommended amount by 9 am.  And those Oreo, just 3 cookies are a little over ½ the day at 14 grams.

At least I knew that these items were occasional treats, but what really surprised me was the sugar content in some of the items we were eating because they were “good” for us. A glass of skim milk has 12 grams of sugar. Barbara’s Oat Crunch cereal (with it’s whole grain packaging and non GMO labeling) has 12 grams of sugar per serving  (in contrast, Fruity Pebbles with it’s  “I am not a healthy choice nor do I claim to be” packaging had 9 grams). My go to healthy light lunch—pomegranate flavored Chobani Greek Yogurt—has 15 grams of sugar. Yikes!

Of course, less sugar is not the only criteria in a healthy eating regimen, but certainly for sugar lovers like us, lowering our sugar content is a good idea and 24 grams in 24 hours gives us a specific goal to work toward.

Trying to limit sugar in our daily diet – especially with yesterday’s leftover Valentine’s Day treats- will be challenge. But my son and I are thinking that both of our lives will be sweeter in the long run if we eat less sugar.

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  1. Ah, Gatorade and Oreos? Did it take the Katie show to tell you that’s too much sugar?

    Folks rely on processed (read: salty and sugary) food because they can’t/don’t cook. AND they are scared their kids will be “stolen,” so they don’t let them play.

    And now the PC police are after contact sports– kid might get a concussion you know (yes, I know a very real fear- one that will not allow me to let the little prof play football)– even though the risk of danger is small.

    Better to have them home, texting, on a computer, eating chips, and sipping Pepsi.

    Fat, but safe.

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