I don’t think sugar itself is toxic or poison. I don’t believe we need to completely banish it from our diets. But it’s a fact that most of us are getting too much added sugar, the kind put in by manufacturers (not the natural kind found in fruit and dairy). That’s especially true for kids.
There’s no Daily Value for added sugar, but rumor has it that the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans may suggest that no more than 10 percent of calories should come from added sugar. Using calorie recommendations from MyPlate, that would look like this:
|Max grams sugar/day
|Max tsp sugar/day
But what could those numbers actually look like in REAL LIFE?
A day’s worth of added sugar for a child ages 2-3:
A day’s worth of added sugar for a child ages 4-8:
A day’s worth of added sugar for a child ages 9-13:
In other words, it adds up pretty fast! And this doesn’t include all the products with sneaky added sugars, like spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, and crackers.
These added sugar goals may not be realistic every day (like the ones with birthday parties and end-of-soccer-season celebrations). And I don’t think anyone should obsess or spend their day counting up sugar grams. But it is helpful to have some of these numbers in your head when making choices, especially at the grocery store. I use this label-reading trick:
Every 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon.
(Example: A cereal with 8g of sugar per serving has the equivalent of 2 tsp of sugar.)
I also try to think big picture: Are there foods and drinks that are contributing a lot of sugar to our diets–and is there any way to trim that back? Here are some moves that can add up:
- Go “halfsies” on sweetened foods your kids like: 5 Easy Ways To Cut Sugar From Your Child’s Diet
- Don’t stock sweetened drinks in your house–or buy them only occasionally.
- Designate a couple of “dessert nights” every week instead of having it daily.
How do YOU cut back on sugar for your family?