In last week's report on my going sugar light adventure, I questioned whether 25g of sugar a day was even realistic living in your basic American suburbia. There was some heated challenges of my interpretation of the American Heart Association's definition of what 25g/day of added sugars meant.
I'm totally okay with being wrong if I'm wrong, but instead of going on an endless debate of who's right and who's wrong, I said let's be fair and go ask the source themselves, the AHA. So, I wrote them on their Facebook wall, yes the modern day letter, because why not? Isn't that what social media is about, interacting with your community. I asked them to clarify and be a bit more specific about what what their added sugar standard is and what it means.
The AHA answered, and here is what they said:
Hello, Stephanie, and thanks for reaching out.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit on added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars contained in fruit. Additionally, the AHA recommends a diet pattern rich in fruits and vegetables. Even though they may have naturally occurring sugars, fruit also contributes fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients important to good health.
The major sources of added sugars in American diets are regular soft drinks, sugars, candy, cakes, cookies, pies and fruit drinks; these are the foods that should be limited.
Most women should not eat or drink more than 100 calories (25 grams) per day from added sugars, and most men should not eat or drink more than 150 (37.5) calories per day from added sugars.
There should not be a limit on fruits or vegetables. For additional information, please see the Sugars 101 section of the AHA website.
So, there you have it straight from the source, and let me tell you, that Sugars 101 section of their site is fabulous and filled with a cornucopia of information, and you MUST check it out. Sugars 101 clarifies more specifically what their sugar standards mean far more clearly than that press release I originally linked to.
What was most helpful was a list of, "Names for added sugars on labels." This folks is worth printing out and learning.
Everyone can look at the same thing differently
Also, "added sugars" specifically means any sugar added to a food versus adding sugar into your overall diet. Without specifics, things can be interpreted a multiple of ways, and what I found intriguing about the discussion last week is that it shows that there is an assumption that everyone is clear on what food labels and talk mean.
Watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution has been eye opening to me in seeing that, no, we shouldn't assume that people are educated and understand the same thing in regards to food, nutrition, and labels. I mean the kids didn't even know french fries came from a potato. I thought I was pretty educated about foods and nutrition, and apparently, there was much for me to learn about sugars.
The Mayo Clinic also has a really fabulous source of "Added Sugar" information like why added sugar is in so many foods in the first place, why added sugars can be a problem, and most useful, the different names added sugars can go by like fruit juice concentrate.
As far as the AHA saying that there should not be a limit with fruits and vegetables, I would challenge that a bit because there are those who would take that literally, and eating too much fruit and it's juices is still not good for you because there is still large amounts of sugar. I would stick to the Gov. Food Pyramid recommendation of 1-2 cups of fruit per day depending on if you're a kid to adult, and male or female.
I'm still sticking to magic number 25
I still like the idea of getting my daily sugar consumption as a whole no matter if it's from natural or added sources down to 25g/day. I like the number 25, and I do think it is a realistic number, even on the low side. Of course, ideally, I'd also like the bulk of those 25g to come from natural sugars versus added.
On what I'm eating, I can happily say that my consumption of baked goods like cookies and cakes has dropped almost by half since I started this journey. I'm still struggling with the sugar filled drinks, but that is okay. We tackle one thing at a time, and the fact that I'm eating less cookies is a miracle in itself.
The belly fat loss
On the physical front, I have also dropped 1/2" from my gut in these 7 weeks doing only the sugar wean. I have almost no fat on my body except my gut, and I'm not being overly conscious here. I do have an amount of belly fat which runs in my family (my waist is above 30"), and trying to get rid of that belly fat has been a major challenge which I have deducted has been hard to trim down because of my previous large sugar consumption of sugars most of which is the added kind (80g/day).
I'm more concerned about getting the belly fat down not to look hot in a bikini but to reduce the amount of visceral fat around my organs which according to the Mayo Clinic has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer (which my dad had) and other health problems. I am at high risk for diabetes and heart disease because of family history, particularly diabetes. All four of my grandparents had it, and my mom has it, so yeah, I want to do whatever I can to prevent or prolong getting diabetes.
So, this week I feel way more educated about added sugars, and I hope you all do to! Thank you so much to the AHA for responding so quickly to my question.
How has your sugar weaning efforts been going?