When I heard the latest dietary guidelines recommend that adults limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their daily calories, I was thrilled! Finally, we’re admitting that sugar is a/the major cause of obesity and disease in our country, and I’m glad that’s reflected in the latest guidelines. Over the last 11 years of my fitness and health coaching career, I’ve placed a huge emphasis on cleaning up my diet, and I’m proud to say I’m much healthier than I was before I started this journey. But, there’s always room for improvement and it’s always important to re-evaluate nutrition every now and again. So lately, my husband and I have been paying much more attention to the added sugars in some of our favorite foods, and it’s been a really good wake up call.
My favorite Greek yogurts, for example, can have 15-25 grams of sugar in them. The gluten free granola I sometimes sprinkle on top? 17 grams. The Clif bars we take on our weekend hikes: 22 grams. And then there’s the less obvious stuff: what’s in salad dressing, tomato sauce, the honey or maple syrup I use in cooking. That piece of dark chocolate I must have every day… I mean, it’s a good thing I bake as rarely as I do…that would really make the sugar grams add up!
So, needless to say, we’ve learned a lot by reading and re-reading the nutrition labels of our favorite “healthy” foods. And we’re not giving them all up. But, we are choosing to make simple swaps to lower our daily intake of added sugars. Here are some of the simple swaps I’ve made so far:
- Switching from vanilla Greek yogurt to plain Greek yogurt: Save 9 to 16 grams of sugar per serving. (Tip: this can take some time to get used to, so I recommend adding cinnamon, a little fruit and maybe some chia seeds…so good!)
- Sprinkling walnuts on top of my yogurt instead of granola: 16 grams less sugar per serving
- Making my own trail mix (from nuts and seeds) instead of eating store bought: 9 grams less sugar per serving
- Cooking chicken with a little olive oil and homemade spice blends instead of with barbeque sauce or other marinades: Saves at least 10-12 grams of sugar per serving.
Other ideas my clients and I have found helpful include:
Homemade overnight oats…tell me this doesn’t look better than anything you can get in a packet…
- Making plain oatmeal with cinnamon and chopped nuts instead of flavored instant oatmeal or “healthy” cold cereals: Save 12-16 grams of sugar per serving
- Buying flavored seltzer instead of vitamin water or iced tea: Save at least 32 grams of sugar. Whoa!
- Toss olive oil, some lemon and garlic on your next salad instead of store bought dressings: Save about 10 grams of sugar (sometimes more!
I encourage you to take a few days and really look at what you’re eating. Look at the sugar content and decide if there’s a way you can reduce your sugar intake a little bit each week. I’m not talking major changes…little swaps add up. Feel free to share your swaps…I’m always looking for new ideas!
For more info about the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines, look here: