Because sugar can cause inflammation throughout the body, and the empty calories that come from sugar cause weight gain over the years, we are told to stay away from sugar - eat less sugar! Eat a sugar-free diet! Cut back on added sugar! Sugar substitutes! etc. And sure, we all know this means to stay away from sweets like candy, cookies, cakes, desserts, and the list goes on. But how many of us actually think about the sugar we’re DRINKING?
A recent “Friday Freebie” at Kroger was this bottle of tea - just a small, 14 ounce, one serving bottle. It had 20 grams of sugar in it. TWENTY! There are approximately four grams of sugar in one teaspoon, and three teaspoons in a tablespoon, which means there are 1 2/3 tablespoons in that one serving of tea. Now that's pretty hard for most people to visualize, so I have included in the picture the amount of sugar in the tea measured out with measuring spoons. Most people wouldn't think of adding this much sugar to a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, etc, but if you were to drink this whole bottle of tea, it's what you'd be getting.
According to the American Heart Association, which has some pretty strict standards of 150 calories from sugar (37.5 g/9 tsp) for men and 100 calories from sugar (25g/6 tsp) for women, at five teaspoons of sugar in this bottle of tea, a woman who drank this tea would only be allowed one more teaspoon of added sugar that day, and a man who drank it would be allowed four more teaspoons of added sugar that day. The FDA’s proposed standards, which are similar to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines are a little more lenient and take your daily calorie intake into consideration. These guidelines state that we should be eating/drinking no more than 10% of our daily calories should come from added sugar. For example, a person eating a 2,000 calorie diet should get no more than 200 calories from added sugar. Using the “divide by four” rule, 200 calories equals 50 grams of sugar, and because there are four grams in one teaspoon, a person on a 2,000 calorie diet would be allowed no more than 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar a day. For a person on a 1,500 calorie a day intake, he or she would be allowed 150 calories from added sugar, 37.5 grams, and about 9 teaspoons (9.375 to be exact).
If a person never ate any added sugar, having a sugary beverage every day wouldn’t be a problem, but I doubt there are very few people like that. There are many ways we can cut down on the sugar we’re drinking - of course drinking water instead of sugary beverages would be most preferred, but quitting sugar cold turkey isn’t always easy. If soda is your go to, try cutting back on the number of sodas per day or week. Switching to diet and cutting back on the number is also an option, but diet soda is a topic for another day.....
If it’s sweetened coffee drinks that get you going, try brewing your coffee at home (if you don’t already), and adding Stevia instead of sugar and/or using low-fat or fat-free milk, or even coconut milk if you’re a coconut fan, instead of creamer. Same with tea - if you’re a sweet tea lover, try making it yourself and slowly cutting back on the amount of sugar you add until you’re able to cut all of the sugar out or make the switch to Stevia if you can’t stand the thought of drinking unsweetened tea.
Quite a few people drink fruit juice thinking they’re doing well for themselves because they’re getting serving of fruit. This unfortunately isn’t the case, as you don’t get the fiber you would by eating a whole piece of fruit, many of the nutrients are lost in the juicing process, and with the amount added sugar you’re getting, you might as well be drinking a soda. No sugar added juices are a better option if you MUST have a glass of juice, but eating a piece of fruit is always going to be the best option.
I’ve heard from a lot of people that they don’t like the taste of water, which always blows my mind, because water doesn’t really taste. I suppose it’s the lack of taste that they don’t like, so I would suggest adding fruit to infuse the water with natural flavors. I LOVE cucumber infused water, but really you can use just about any fruit. They even have neat infuser pitchers that keep the little bits of fruit from floating around in the water you drink - you get the flavor without the floaties!
I also love making fresh lemonade in the summer - just some fresh squeezed lemon juice and some Stevia make a wonderful refreshing beverage on a hot summer day!
Whatever food and drink choices you make throughout the day, just be aware of the sugar content, especially in what you’re drinking, and try to stay within the recommended intake for you. Make cuts and substitutions where you can, and remember, everything in moderation!
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A