Trying to maintain a balanced diet is difficult (especially during the holiday season!) You try to plan, watch what you eat, and stay active in order to feel better and look better. But did you know there are actually six common foods that are full of an entire day’s worth of sugar? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are (7):
Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
To put that into perspective, one 12-oz can of Coke contains 140 calories from sugar, while a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar. So, you could be sabotaging your health and your daily sugar intake by choosing the wrong foods and not even know it!
Here are six foods you absolutely should avoid if you’re trying to minimize your daily sugar intake, and a healthy alternative for each.
6 Shocking Foods That Are Sabotaging Your Health Goals
You might think lemonade is good for you, since lemons are packed full of Vitamin C. However, in order to combat the tartness of the lemons, there’s usually quite a bit of sugar added to make the lemonade taste sweet. In fact, a 16-ounce bottle of Hubert’s lemonade contains two servings and a combined total of 28 grams of sugar. Yikes!
Healthy swap: Fresh squeezed lemon juice, water, and little bit of raw, organic honey. Yum!
2. Blueberry Muffins
This one is tricky because it can be tough to measure how much is naturally occurring sugar (the blueberries) and how much is added. But you can bet that if you get one from Starbucks, you’ll find yourself consuming more sugar (sugar is listed second on the ingredients list), and honey (considered added sugar) for a total of 30 grams of sugar. Whoa!
Healthy swap: Next time you’re at Starbucks grab a fruit cup and a packet of Justin’s almond butter. Delicious and only 1 gram of sugar consumed.
3. Yogurt and Fruit Parfait
This one can be confusing because generally plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit is a fantastic snack. However, when you buy a pre-packaged parfait, you’ll find yourself faced with as much as 30 grams of sugar because many places add sugar (brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, and sugary granola chunks).
Healthy swap: Stick to making your own at home with unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt and a fabulous mix of fresh raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Bonus - with the dark berries you’ll also be consuming antioxidants!
4. Tomato Soup
You might not think of soup as being sugary or sweet, but if you scan many of the labels on canned tomato soup, you’ll find high fructose corn syrup listed second on the ingredients list. For example, Campbell’s condensed tomato soup, a childhood favorite for many of us, contains 30 grams of sugar. Whaa-?
Healthy swap: If you must have the Campbell’s, stick with the serving size (only 12 grams of sugar) and then add in some fresh chopped veggies to go with it. Skip the grilled cheese.
It might be a no-brainer that sugary kids’ cereals like Lucky Charms contain a ton of sugar. However, even the “healthy” brands can still have a lot of added sugar in the ingredients list. Make sure to always check the labels and, if you really can’t live without it, make sure to only eat the exact serving size (which ranges from about ½ cup for dense cereals like granolas and 1 cup for low-density cereal like Cheerios) - and, no, filling up a bowl does not count as a serving!
Healthy swap: Have you ever tried overnight oats? If you add some Greek yogurt, honey, or berries, it will be as sweet and delicious as any cereal on the shelf (and much healthier). Here are some delicious overnight oat recipes to try.
Margaritas are undeniably delicious, but they tend to be jam packed with sugar. We typically do not encourage drinking too much alcohol as it can wreak havoc on your body and skin (you need to stay hydrated!) However, if every once in awhile you want to indulge, you may want to choose an alternative to the margarita. For example, Chili’s Ultimate Fresh Margarita has 40 grams of sugar in just one drink! Say goodbye to sharing any dessert afterwards because you just blew your daily sugar intake (by a lot).
Healthy swap: Opt for a glass of red wine instead (antioxidants!) or a light beer. A good rule of thumb: the less ingredients and mixers in your drink, the less added sugar you’re probably consuming.
Now that you know, you can swap these foods for healthier versions (or avoid them completely).
Luckily, on many packaged foods and drinks that you buy in the store there is a nutrition label. Always check the label for the percentage of sugar, how many grams of sugar, and especially how much added sugar is included. It’s honestly best to avoid any added sugar when you can.
Knowledge is power when it comes to eating a balanced diet and nurturing your whole health so you can live a whole life!
Do you need help balancing your diet and finding the right health plan for your lifestyle? Our Nutritionist Dana Bosselmann can help!
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