It goes in coffee, tea, on pancakes, cereal and almost anything else you want to make taste better. Added sugar is what it is; sugar that didn't naturally come with the food.
We've grown up with sugar looked at as a good and fun thing, but told that fat is bad and will make us fat, when really, it's the sugar doing the damage. The Food and Drug Administration is making changes to Nutrition Facts Label, and one of those is including added sugar to it to distinguish between natural sugar and sweeteners like corn syrup or honey.
I preach about how people shouldn't look at food as good or bad because it leads to unrealistic expectations and restrictions and then failure. It's fine to treat yourself to a pint of Ben & Jerry's once in awhile, or save your carbohydrates for a donut at night, but continuously adding unnecessary sugar to your diet, especially when you don't realize it, can make your waistband a little tighter.
The simplest way to define the difference between added sugar and natural sugar is a caramel iced coffee with cream and sugar versus a piece of fruit. Even though it's coffee, there's sugar in the caramel flavoring and then even more if you get regular milk or half and half and sugar. Fruit is naturally made by the Earth, depending on the geography, and supplies you with energy and doesn't make you crash after the energy jolt.
American's consume 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day, which equals about 350 extra calories, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. If you use MyFitnessPal, a database to help track meals and exercises online and on smartphones, you'll see that 350 extra calories is not in the budget.
One teaspoon, what you usually use to add vanilla extract to recipes, which is a dash, equals four grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, a yogurt cup with fruit can have up to 19 grams. Be aware of the marketing around this when it comes to healthier options with fruit or other things that make food taste good but aren't the best for you. The recommended daily intake, according to Authority Nutrition, is 25 to 30 grams, so good luck finding something to eat after that yogurt cup without going over the limit.
Other foods with surprisingly high sugar content include canned soup, 15 grams per 1.5 cups, salad dressing, 4 grams per tablespoon, tomato sauce, 12 grams in a half cup, some varieties of bread with 2 grams per slice, granola bars with 9 grams, and orange juice, 9 grams in one glass, according to Everyday Health. When fat is taken out of food, sugar, in hidden forms, is pumped in to make it taste better. Which, in turn, sugar becomes fat due to a number of calories it equals.
Nutrition Fact Label's are being changed for a number of reasons, but one is because it is becoming more obvious that there's a clear connection between unhealthy diets and chronic diseases. The FDA stated, "Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar." This means that by not fulfilling your body with the proper nutrients, you'll substitute it with less healthy options and in turn, take on a chronic disease as a result of high cholesterol and increased fat cells.
Start monitoring what your daily food intake pattern looks like. Analyze after a week or two, get MyFitnessPal and learn about what's helping and hurting your health in terms of ingredients and not just calories. You may not be sick now, but investing in your health will save some medical bills in the long run.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.