For my going sugar little journey, I'm working on cutting down my daily sugar consumption from 80g/day to about 25g/day or 100 calories (there are about 4 calories per gram of sugar). I got the 25g/day goal from the American Heart Association who recommended that amount for good heart health.
I picked the AHA standard because they are a respected health group and because initially 25g/day of sugar sounded doable and realistic. But now, into week 6 of my sugar wean, I am wondering if that 25g/day is realistic or even possible to maintain long term living in your basic American suburban town where mall food, fast food, and lab coat concocted food reign supreme. Sugar and salt are added to almost everything just to make stuff sweeter even if it doesn't need to be sweeter.
Will an apple a day keep the sugar away? Well, a medium sized Red Delicious apple is about 13g of sugar.
Here's another small example. I love orange juice, and you would assume that drinking organic juice would be healthy right? Well, just one 8oz glass (one cup) of Organic Valley orange juice is 26g of sugar. Therefore, just drinking one cup of OJ will already push you over the AHA's 25g/day standard.
One of those small packets of Sugar in the Raw you see in Starbucks has 5g of sugar, so putting just two packets in your latte will set you back 10g of sugar which is almost half of your 25g daily allotment. The Sugar in the Raw is actually a good analogy. Just five of those packets equals the 25g/day recommendation.
Eating just one Sprinkles Red Velvet cupcake will set you back 45g of sugar.
How about the drinks section in your average 7-Eleven or Circle K? Well, eliminating plain water, sparkling water, and diet sodas, most drinks will have anywhere from 25-45g of sugar, and worse yet many will have high fructose corn syrup in it including "healthy" drink Gatorade. I don't count the diet sodas because I don't do artificial sweeteners because they make me feel ill.
And just because you drink organic or "good" drinks from the Whole Foods drink section doesn't mean you will do better either. I buy almost all my drinks at Whole Foods and between juices, bottled teas, sodas, and fruity fizzy drinks, nearly 50% of my 80g of sugar a day were mostly coming from those drinks. I was shocked to learn just how much sugar I was drinking versus eating.
Sugars also show up in things that you wouldn't normally think of either like toothpaste, mouthwash, and medicine. Did you know that Nyquil has high fructose corn syrup in it and Robitussin uses corn syrup and sorbitol in many of their products. They do have a specific sugar and sorbitol-free Robitussin.
The benenies of weaning
So, if you have a sweet tooth like me and the many others in America, then getting down to a 25g/day of total sugars is going to be a challenge. It's not impossible, but for realz, you are going to have to be very conscientious of reading food labels and then choosing wisely. I won't say, "then limit" because that will trigger the Inner Resistance Monster because he sits up when a whiff of deprivation hits the radar where as saying "choosing wisely" is more open and gives the feeling of options.
Because there is so much sugar to be found in our foods, and it's common to also have an emotional attachment to sugar, I recommend slowly weaning versus going cold turkey on the sugar because the process will entail less suffering. I swear there have been days where I have felt literal withdrawal shakes.
On an up note, the other day, I chose to eat a cup of edamame over a tangelo for afternoon snack as one small way of cutting back on the sugar. The edamame was delicious!
So, how's your sugar weaning week been going?