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sugar-addictionI’m going to “Yuck Your Yum” (literally) with this post.

Because you’re eating too much sugar.  Even if you think you eat healthy.  Even if you don’t consume too many calories.  Even if you exercise every day.  Even if you are a skinny bitch on the outside.  Because even if you look good, you can be fat on the “inside”– a ticking time bomb for diabetes and cancer. Have I totally bummed you out yet?

The World Health Organization’s recommended sugar intake (announced in March, 2014) for healthy adults is 25 grams a day.   That doesn’t sound too bad, I know.  But it is very bad, because that is only six teeny-weeny teaspoons, and that is like nothing at all.

A couple of weeks ago, after watching the documentary Fed Up, I decided to check out how much sugar I was actually eating.  I’m healthy, I’m don’t look fat (though I did ask my husband with a knife in my hand), I’m careful about what I eat, and I exercise almost every day.

Yet, even as a paragon of healthy lifestyle (ha), I was blown away when I paid attention to how much sugar I was consuming:

My day might begin with a 100-calorie strawberry Chobani yogurt (8 grams of sugar).

It might include a turkey sandwich (loaded with vegetables) on whole wheat bread (5.57 grams of sugar.)

I might snack on a “all natural, gluten free, high fiber, low sodium” and quite nutty and delicious Kind bar (11 grams of sugar.)

I might have spaghetti squash instead of pasta for dinner– topped with a little all organic red sauce out of a jar (11.57 grams in the red sauce.)

And for dessert, I would never indulge in ice cream, but I would have no problem scarfing down a 100-calorie Yasso mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt bar (13 grams of sugar…and who can eat just one?)

…So, that’s close to 50 grams of sugar right out of the box (so to speak)-double the WHO sugar recommendations—and I hadn’t even really started.

I was not counting the handful of Craisins I might pick at mindlessly (26 grams of sugar per 1/3 cup- I hate you now, Craisins.) And I was not counting the crackers, a seasonal glass of fresh apple cider, or anything other food that might come in a package that I might rip open and shove in my mouth.

WTF, WHO???  25 grams of sugar?  WHO can do this?

This exactly the kind of news that makes me want to reach for the bowl of M&Ms (31 grams for one small package–bummer!)

For the last two weeks, I have tried to limit my sugar intake to the WHO recommended 25 grams.  It is not easy; I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and I am learning as I go. But if you care about cutting down on sugar, here are a few tips from a neophyte with really good intentions:

  1. Watch Fed Up.   You will see how your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine.  You will hear how 80% of food items in the US have added sugar.  You see that even a bowl of cornflakes (how much more American can you get?) has 6.11 grams of sugar, all of it added.  Here is the official trailer:  
  2. Read the labels on your foods for sugar content.  Amazingly, the food industry is not yet required to list the percentage of recommended daily intake for sugar (as it is for fat, cholesterol and sodium), but knowing that 25 grams is the limit not to exceed- you’re smart- you can figure it out.
  3. Beware of foods that you thought were good for you.  Dammit, even my bland, boring low fat cottage cheese has added sugar, and it doesn’t even taste good!
  4. Of course you would never drink a regular soda (over 40 grams.) But would you eat dates (63 grams)? Or prunes (38 grams)? Or sun dried tomatoes (37 grams)?  And goodbye, chewy, yummy, dried Figs. At 47.9 grams of sugar, you might as well be eating a Fig Newton.  Throw away the dried fruit.
  5. Think Cold Turkey.  I don’t mean give up sugar completely.  Few of us can do that. I mean eat cold turkey (and the like).  All protein, no sugar.
  6. Eat lots of hummus.  No sugar.  Thank you, lord.
  7. Limit your fresh fruit intake (even though probably no one has to tell you not to have too many apples).  Green vegetables?  Have a party.
  8. Get the processed foods the hell out of the house.
  9. Hunt for bread with no sugar.  It is not easy to find.
  10. Raw nuts have no sugar. Yay! The problem, of course, is the outrageous calorie count, dammit.

The silver lining in all of this?  According to fatfreekitchen.com, there isn’t that much sugar in alcohol.  So I’m going to pour myself a big glass of red wine. And I’m going to enjoy it with a bowlful of mixed nuts and some delicious fresh cheese on something that resembles cardboard that is made from brown rice that is actually not all that bad.  Yum!

And yes, I know that cheese and nuts are full of fat, dairy is not all that good for you, and that alcohol intake should be limited.  But a girl can’t live on greens alone…because what’s the point of living?  So don’t Yuck my new Yum.

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