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How can I reduce the amount of sugar I eat?

Brooke Alpert, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best way to reduce the amount of sugar you eat is to remove all added sugars from your diet, and avoid sweet beverages like juices and sodas. In this video, I will share my tips for lowering your sugar intake. 
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that children are consuming about 16 percent of their calories or about 280 to 360 calories daily, on average, from added sugars, with the majority of the added sugars coming from edibles found in the kitchen cupboards in their homes. This amount of added sugar is equivalent to 18 to 23 teaspoons of sugar.

So which foods and beverages are the biggest sugar culprits? Additional research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition uncovered that the major food sources of added sugars in the diets of children are grain-based desserts (cookies and cakes), candy, syrups, dairy desserts (ice cream) and ready-to-eat cereals, while soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks were the big ticket beverage items.

Not surprisingly, these edibles are the same high-sugar-rollers being consumed by adults. In fact, Americans of all ages, on average, are consuming about 140 calories daily of grain-based desserts, according to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. With over 65 percent of Americans overweight, do the majority of us really need to be eating cookies and cakes daily?

Take-home message:
  • Since cookies, cakes, and candies are huge sources of added sugars in the diet, don’t buy the large, warehouse-sized boxes and packages of these sweets and treats. The more you buy, the more you are going to eat. Stick to smaller, supermarket-size packages and don’t be so quick to replenish the supply in the kitchen cupboards when these sweets are gobbled up.
  • When choosing breakfast cereals, reach for the wholegrain variety and make sure that they contain only about 8 grams of sugar (the equivalent of two teaspoons of table sugar) or less per serving. These sweetened cereals are, by far, a healthier alternative to breakfast donuts and other pastries. 
  • Fruitades, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and of course, soda are pure sugar in a glass. These shouldn’t be the daily beverage of choice. Switch to skim milk at meals and water in between meals to keep hydrated.
Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best solution when it comes to sugar is to eliminate it, if not completely, as much as possible. My vote is to bring sugar and desserts back to their role as treats for special occasions, not a daily habit or, dare I say, an addiction. As a general rule, choose sweeteners that are as unrefined as possible. This will mean that they have some nutritional value in addition to a sweet taste. Also, some sugars have a lower glycemic load than others, which means they convert to glucose in the blood at a slower rate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.