Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, More Sugar

I thought that I had, mostly with the help of my wife, transitioned to a fairly healthy diet. This transition was not without pain since it meant replacing some of my favorite comfort foods with some tasteless, semi-nasty food.  But just as I’m getting use to fish and salads the federal government made healthy eating even more of a challenge by releasing the new sugar consumption recommendations, New Dietary Guidelines to Encourage Healthy Eating Patterns to Prevent Chronic Diseases, (Jan. 7, 2016), limiting the amount of added sugars in our diet to no more than 10% of daily calories. I thought that I’d be right in line with the guidelines since I had long ago abandoned my regular diet of Three Musketeers and Edy’s caramel delight. Then my smarter-than-me diet guru wife put the new guidelines in understandable language: “sugar is in everything and 10% of daily calories is 12 teaspoons of sugar a day for the average person” (one teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar). Holy crap, I’m using 4 teaspoons just in my Starbucks.sugar cartoon

So I decided to see if my diet was within range by logging my daily added-sugar consumption. I started the day with a banana along with an egg sandwich which was a good thing since there really isn’t any way to add sugar in either with a protective peel and shell. To my surprise the bagel part of my egg sandwich contained sugar. As I ate my way through my day, logging my foods and associated sugar content, a consistent pattern became apparent in that any time food was created, the creators just couldn’t resist adding sugar, including yours truly adding my packet of sugar to each of the three coffees I consumed. Orange juice, chocolate milk, breakfast bar, and yogurt were all running up the grams of sugar total and my self-perceived healthy diet now seemed to be a fantasy. But there were a few bright spots during the day in that my entire 8 slice Brixx pizza only contained 5 grams of sugar as opposed to packaged pizza which contains 5 grams/slice and it turns out that my beloved beer has 0 grams making it my health food of choice (I know there’s other stuff in my brews but this is about added sugar).

Here is a log of my diet for a day with grams of sugar consumed.

FoodGrams
Total87
Orange juice22
Egg sandwich6
Chocolate milk29
Yogurt18
PowerAde drink7
Pizza5
Beer0

This is just a sample listing of my diet and is probably on the low side of my normal daily sugar consumption. As I said earlier, before the new sugar warning, I had already modified my diet so this new guideline is kind of a bummer since on my healthiest eating day I’m downing double the new recommended sugar intake so there is real possibility that I may explode. In spite of my disappointment I realized that the good thing about this food logging exercise is becoming aware that sugar is everywhere and even in foods, like bread, that weren’t on my sugar radar! I really enjoy eating, especially the sweet stuff, but as I get older I realize that what I eat has consequences so I have to make some tasty sacrifices. Will I adhere to the sugar guidelines? Probably not, but I will be mindful of the recommendation and try to eat the best I can and hope the food industry can lower the sugar content of some of my sweet treats so they can once again be part of my healthy diet.

This post is just my take on sugar intake and other than being able to spell s-u-g-a-r I have no expertise in nutrition other than knowing how to eat.  I also realize that food has a lot more than just sugar that can screw up your healthy diet. You can see the new guidelines at http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/USDAPressRelease.pdf