Written by: Titiana Huzien, Nutrition Intern
You’ve finally quit the dessert-after-dinner habit, so there is no way you’re eating too much sugar? Well, while cutting out the common sugar villains like candy and cake is a huge leap, there are lots of other ways that sugar likes to hide. This includes everything from high fructose corn syrup found in some of your favorite foods, to your favorite juice to even that “all natural” protein bar.
So, what exactly is sugar? Well sugar is known as a carbohydrate in its simplest form. There are two main sources of sugar: Natural and processed. Natural sugar is found in whole, natural foods. The fruit considered as the food group closely linked to natural sugar, but vegetables such as carrots, beets, squash, zucchini, and onions also contain some natural sugar. Examples of natural sugar include the sugars found in dairy products, fruit, and vegetables. Processed sugar is sugar that’s been tinkered with in some way and extracted from its natural source. Examples of processed sugar include white cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and agave.
Some common sources of hidden sugars include granola & cereal, protein bars, yogurt, breads/gluten free breads, pre-made sauces and dressings, nuts and seed butters, non-dairy milk, and protein powders.
On average, adults should eat no more than 90 grams of total sugars and less than 30 grams of free sugars. Added sugars should take up less than 10% of your total calorie intake each day. Men should not eat more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar (36 grams) and women should not eat more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar (25 grams).
What are some signs that you may be eating too much sugar? These signs can include:
- Craving for sugar or carbs
- Lack of energy and tiredness
- Weight gain
- Frequent colds and flu
- Dull taste buds
- Foggy brain
- Skin problems
- Eye wrinkles
- Mood swings
- Memory loss
- Toothaches / cavities
- Stomachaches & imbalanced gut flora
In order to cut back on sugar intake, try to cut back on the amount of sugar you may regularly add to foods and drinks, such as tea, coffee, and cereal, replace sugar-sweetened beverages with sugar-free or low-calorie drinks, and compare food labels and select the products with the lowest amounts of added sugars. When baking, reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by a third and try replacing sugar in recipes with extracts or spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, almond or vanilla. Finally, replace sugar on cereal or oatmeal with fruit.