I've noticed that this is the time of year (really, it can start around Halloween) that people let their sugar consumption really fly. I've even been known to eat a bit more of the sweet stuff in various forms simply because it's there, too. The problem is that, as a country, we get much more sugar than we need on a regular basis, anyway. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that total intake of discretionary calories (that includes added sugars and solid fats) be between 5% and 15%. According to data from the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, about 13% of adults' total calories come from added sugar; the 2005-2008 survey reported that about 16% of children and adolescents' total calories come from added sugar. At this levels, sugar intake takes up all of our discretionary calories!
Sources of Sugar. There are many food sources of both natural and added sugar. The foods you should focus on eating that naturally contain sugar are those that provide other nutritional benefits such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and/or protein. The natural sources that are fine for daily intake are:
Other natural sources are purely sugar and really don't provide a significant amount of nutrition. Some examples are cane or beet sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, agave syrup, honey, and molasses. These are preferred over high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, but they are still essentially empty calories. When looking at food labels, these are the ingredients to look for along with anything that ends in "-ose" such as sucrose or dextrose (as these are other words for sugar).
Ways to Reduce Sugar Consumption. It's often not that difficult to reduce sugar intake (or re-sensitize your palate). I typically recommend to people who chronically eat a lot of sugary foods to gradually reduce their sugar intake and try to avoid replacing it with artificial sweeteners. Sometimes switching to artificial sweeteners makes your desire to eat sweet foods more intense. Some ideas:
Written by Michelle Baglio of Optimal Nutrition and Health. The information contained in this post is provided for educational purposes only with the understanding that Optimal Nutrition and Health makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information. Readers are advised not to use information in this post or others found on this website for the treatment or prevention of disease, and it should not be used in place of medical treatment or advice. Please do not reprint this post for distribution without my permission. To feature on your website or social media, please link to this post as the original source.