It’s time to slash added sugars in your diet, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were just released and while much of the advice remained the same from the previous edition (published in 2010) of the Guidelines, one of the major new changes is a recommendation to limit added sugars to less than 10 percent of your total calories.
The new limits on added sugars are based on the published scientific evidence that shows that diets rich in added sugars lack essential nutrients and make it harder to keep overall calories in check. What’s more, studies now link eating patterns rich in added sugars to cardiovascular disease type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers and other chronic health conditions. For this reason, the government’s blueprint for what constitutes a healthy diet limits added sugars.
To help you figure out how much added sugar you can have daily, you first need your daily calorie needs. (Use this tool from the Guidelines to help.) Once you have your daily calories, say 2,000 calories, take 10% of that number for the total calorie limit from added sugars. To convert calories to grams of sugars, divide the calories by four.
For a 2,000-calorie diet, you can have 200 calories of added sugar per day. Since 1 gram of sugar has 4 calories, 200 calories worth of sugar equals 50 grams. (Note: One 12-ounce soda contains about 40 grams of sugar—nearly all you need in a day!
Added sugars are found in about 70 percent of packaged food products but the major sources in the U.S. diet come from sugary beverages, snacks and sweet treats. Together, they account for more than 75 percent of the added sugars Americans eat.
Here are three ways to slash added sugars to 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommendations:
- Eliminate sugary beverages. Since soda and other sweetened beverages provide nearly half of all the added sugar in the US diet, they are the first items that you need to jettison from your life. They don’t contribute to fullness so you won’t miss them…much. If you like the fizz of soda, opt for sparkling water instead. I add lemon or lime or even berries and herbs to sparkling water like Perrier to amp up its flavor. In time, you’ll lose your desire for sugary beverages.
- Become a sugar sleuth and learn how to ID packaged foods and beverages that are sugar bombs. Use this infographic that identifies 46 commonly used added sugars in packaged food and beverages.
- Enjoy natural sugars. Don’t think about what you can’t have; focus on what you can eat and drink. For sweets, try dried fruit, (dates are sugar like candy to me now), fresh fruit, roasted veggies, and caramelized onions. There are many foods that provide natural sweetness—they’ve just been pushed aside by the more intensely sweet crystal whites.