How to Cut Hidden Sugar From Your Diet
Americans are eating far more sugar every day than is healthy. Part of the problem is many people don't realize all the places it's hiding. To get your sugar consumption under control, you need to know three things.
First, how much sugar is healthy? According to the World Health Organization, you should get no more than 6-10% of your calories from sugar. For a person eating 2,000 calories a day, that means a maximum of 50 grams of sugar daily.
Second, how much are YOU eating? Do nothing more than keep track of all the sugar you eat every day for a week.
Third, if you're taking in more than you should, look at our list of places it's hiding and use some of the suggestions to cut back.
Eating oatmeal for breakfast can be a great way to start the day. But traditional oatmeal takes a few minutes to prepare, and it can taste bland. So food companies came out with different flavored oatmeal in convenient packets. Tear one open, add some hot water and a minute or two later you've got breakfast. But those packets are filled with sugar.
A single 1.5-ounce packet of Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal has 12 grams of sugar. But for many people, a single packet isn't enough. Two packets give you about 16% of your daily calories, but nearly 50% of your total sugar. If you like the convenience of oatmeal packets, look for the versions that say "Weight Control." That same flavor oatmeal in the weight control option has only 1 gram of sugar per packet instead of 12.
Grabbing a coffee from Starbucks is something more than 8 million people do daily. You start to run into trouble with all the stuff you're adding to that drink. A single shot of Starbucks Vanilla Flavoring adds 5 grams of sugar. Order a large drink and you'll typically get two shots of flavoring. When adding flavors, ask for the sugar-free versions. You'll save between 5 and 15 grams of sugar per drink, depending on how many shots you typically order.
Making a salad for lunch is a great way to get some vegetables in your diet. But cover it with dressing and you may be drowning it in sugar. Four tablespoons of thousand island dressing has 10 grams of sugar. The fat-free versions often have even more. Look for lower sugar or sugar-free dressings. If you want sweet in your salad, add some chopped up fresh fruit to the mix.
While you're checking out toppings, take a look at that bottle of ketchup. Four tablespoons of Heinz tomato ketchup packs 16 grams of sugar. You don't have to do without, just get the reduced sugar versions. Heinz Reduced Sugar Tomato Ketchup only has four grams of sugar in four tablespoons.
Energy and protein bars are another sugar minefield. A Clif Chocolate Mint Builder's Protein Bar has 270 calories and 20 grams of sugar in a single bar. That's more calories and sugar than two Reese's Snack Size Peanut Butter Cups. If you're looking for a better protein bar that still tastes good, try something like a Power Crunch Chocolate Mint bar. They have only 205 calories and 5 grams of sugar. Look for bars that have no more than 1 gram of sugar per 40 calories.
Eating yogurt for a snack may seem like a good idea until you read the label. A single serving of Yoplait Red Raspberry yogurt packs 18 grams of sugar in a little 150 calorie container. Switch to Greek yogurts. The Yoplait Greek Raspberry yogurt has 1/3 fewer calories than regular yogurt but less than half the sugar; only 8 grams in a 100 calorie container. To cut down on sugar choose plain Greek yogurt and add your fresh fruit to the mix.
Six places sugar is hiding and six ways to cut back. It's your move now.
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