Oh Sugar!

There is a new book out by the editor of Men's Health magazine called "Eat This, Not That". I recently stumbled upon the blog connected to the book and loved the simple way that they have broken down information for eaters out there. [I was really excited to learn that coming in August is a new Eat This, Not That! book for parents and kids. It is available for preorder now.]

I especially liked this post about sugar consumption because I think that most of us underestimate the amount of sugar we are consuming. The rise of diabetes in kids is insane, and I love that these guys are talking about it. I am always amazed to see how my kids respond to sugar - it is nutty - and I am reminded how important it is for me to strive to keep them pumped full of healthy snacks and healthy food at meals! To view the eat this, not that blog, go here.
Here is their post about sugar...I have some of my own guilty confessions at the end of this post, so read on...
Think your sweet tooth is harmless? Well, it just might bite you back. The average American is wolfing down 460 calories from added sugars every day. That’s more than 100 pounds of raw sugar per person per year. (That's enough to make 3,628 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!)
What’s at risk with all this sugar intake isn’t just another cavity; refined carbohydrates cause spikes in your blood sugar levels, tell your body to store fat, and put people at increased risk for diabetes. And that's another way of saying that it puts people at increased risk of blindness, sexual malfunction, heart attack, and premature death.
All that from a simple candy bar or soda? Not exactly, but consider this: A dollar will buy you about 75 calories' worth of fresh broccoli, but food manufacturers can use that same dollar to purchase 1,815 calories of sugar. And thanks to government subsidies, high fructose corn syrup - the synthetic sweetener found in so many of the foods in our grocery stores - is even cheaper. It should come as no surprise, then, that added sugars are sabotaging nearly ever packaged and prepared food we put in our bodies — pasta sauces, smoothies, even whole grain breads.
To help you avoid the impact of stealth sugars that run rampant through our food supply, we’ve sifted through all the nutritional data to name the eight biggest sugar bombs in America. Try to keep them from blowing up in your neighborhood.
Most Sugar-Packed Breakfast Cereal
Quaker Natural Granola: Oats, Honey & Raisins (1 cup)
30 g sugars [6.3 teaspoons]
420 calories
Warning: Granola’s healthy reputation is way overrated. The problem is those healthy-sounding oats are invariably bathed in a variety of sweeteners, making it not only one of the sweetest cereals in the aisle, but also a caloric overload. In fact, one cup of this stuff has more sugar than two servings of Lucky Charms!
Most Sugar-Packed Salad
Uno Chicago Grill’s Spinach, Chicken and Gorgonzola Salad
38 g sugars [8 teaspoons]
720 calories
The candied walnuts on this salad help to make it sweeter than a double-scoop cone of Ben & Jerry’s Butter Pecan ice cream. Choose a more sensible meal and save the sugar calories for dessert. (Which you'll share, right?)
Most Sugar-Packed Side Dish
Boston Market’s Cinnamon Apples
42 g sugars [8.9 teaspoons]
210 calories
This apple dish is right up there with the one Eve served to Adam, and you know how that worked out. Boston Market’s sickly sweet side consists of apples overwhelmed with sugar, brown sugar, soybean oil, and cornstarch. Oh yeah, and a pinch of cinnamon — which is about the only healthy thing about it. If you want this dish done right, make it at home.
ost Sugar-Packed Sandwich
Subway’s Foot-Long Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki
38 g sugars [8 teaspoons]
740 calories
The most distressing part: this sandwich finds its way onto Subway’s “healthy” menu. Ignore the claims of low fat that adorn the menu board; the teriyaki sauce contributes nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar to the sandwich, which will soon find their way to your waistline.

Most Sugar-Packed “Healthy” Food
Panera’s Pumpkin Muffin
47 g sugars [10 teaspoons]
530 calories
Stop thinking of muffins as health food and start thinking of them as cake. They’re made from refined flour, contain only trace amounts of fiber, and can pack more sugar than two ice cream bars. Have one of these for breakfast, and you've sabotaged your diet for the whole day.
Most Sugar-Packed Kids Meal
Oscar Mayer Maxed Out Turkey & Cheddar Cracker Combo Lunchables
61 g sugars [13 teaspoons!!!]
680 calories
Kids love Lunchables, and for the usual reason: It's a candy box. Too bad so many busy parents use them to fill empty lunchboxes. But this kids’ meal has more calories than a Whopper and more sugar than two Snickers bars; suddenly, packing your child's lunch becomes more of a priority. Check the labels, and do everything you can to avoid the bad prepackaged candy and sugary drink combos.
Most Sugar-Packed Breakfast
Bob Evans’ Stacked & Stuffed Strawberry Banana Cream Hotcakes
102 g sugars [25.5 teaspoons]
1,200 calories
Despite the fruity name, this is truly one of the worst breakfast entrĂ©es in America. Each stack has 25.5 teaspoons of sugar — that’s more sugar than six funnel cakes. Think of this as their diabetic special — one that contributes to the disease instead of curing it.
The Most Sugar-Packed Food in America
Baskin Robbins Large York® Peppermint Pattie Shake
281 g sugars [59 teaspoons]
2,210 calories
Baskin Robbins’ line of candy-based beverages are horrendous on so many accounts: Each large shake has a day’s worth of calories, up to three days of saturated fat, and an ingredient list so long — some more than seven inches — it requires an advanced degree in chemistry to decipher. This particular caloric catastrophe has more sugar than 11 Peppermint Patties!
For more insulin-spiking, gut-busting, sugar-laden foods, check out these sickly sweet offenders that rate as America’s most sugar-packed foods!
And consumer beware: Sugar is lurking in more than just the food you eat, as this guide to the
20 unhealthiest drinks shows.
Alright, so, I don't know how all of that hits you. For me, there is the shock and awe of reading certain parts of it, and to see how many teaspoons are in those mystical grams in the nutritional breakdown. But, I also found myself feeling a little smug as I read. I mean, I don't eat most of those foods and I don't feed my kids those foods. I feel like we eat a very healthy diet and I feel like I really try to monitor the amount of sugar that my kids take in. I am not a total sugar nazi -- I love letting them enjoy the cupcakes and juice boxes at parties and we will totally indulge in a treat as a family occasionally. But, I started to wonder while reading this post, "Just how much sugar are my kids consuming every day just in their snacks and parts of their meals?" Here is what I learned:

I made a little tally of the amount of sugar that is in the kinds of food they eat (this could be a snap shot of one day of snacks and meal supplements, but not the entire amount of food they eat in one day).

It was especially shocking for me to see the sugar measured out. 

This is how much sugar is in one container of yogurt:

Based on the total of the sugar in my list above, my kids would be consuming over 18 teaspoons of sugar just in those foods per day. That does not include fruit or sugar found in milk and bread and other foods they are eating throughout the day. So, really, they are consuming far more than this.

Here is the real shocker, though. If I add all that up for the week, they would be consuming approximately 2 and 3/4 cups of sugar each week.

Sometimes a picture is worth so much more than words. It adds up so quickly. I am definitely going to be thinking hard about this one.

Want to do your own sugar challenge? Jot down a snapshot of a day's worth of snacks and the amount of sugar that is in a serving. I went to this website to convert the grams into teaspoons.

Add it all up. Maybe you will then understand, like I now do, why my son is repeatedly running into the wall and pretending to "bonk uh my head!"


  1. hm, interesting. I do try to stay away from foods with high fructose corn syrup, but I guess regular old sugar is just as bad. I also wonder if there is an advantage to honey vs sugar. Also one thing that interests me is the natural sugars found in things like fruit and milk. Are those as bad as refined sugar? Man, you are going to have me researching this all day!

  2. It is a worm hole for sure. Once I have started thinking about it, it has me going in all sorts of directions. I am learning about the glycemic index and natural sweeteners. For sure, it is WAY better for our kids to consume the natural vs. the refined. Even in the more refined versions, there is a hierarchy - raw sugar is better than the white. It seems like in all parts of nutrition, the least refined versions are the healthiest. And WHOLE foods are best. So, yay for the sugar in fruits! (Can you imagine how amazing fruit would taste to us if we had never had candy or baked goods?) And, the sugar in fruit is better than the sugar in fruit juice because the juice is missing the fiber that the kids will be getting if they eat the fruit.

    One thing that we are big fans of here at Mama Manifesto is agave nectar. It is a natural sweetener that you can use in baking, as well as on toast, in drinks, and in things like oatmeal. It looks like honey but has a less distinct flavor. It has a thinner consistency than honey so it dissolves more quickly in drinks (especially cold ones, like iced coffee). I have switched to using agave in my coffee and tea and I LOVE IT! That is one way you can substitute out the refined sugar. Oh, and one of the greatest things about agave is that it is sweeter per teaspoon than sugar, so you use much less. We like that!

    We will be talking about this one for a while.

    Stay tuned for more posting on this... And, please share your sugar busting tips and sources for great info on this topic.

  3. Wow, talk about eye opening! I'm going to have to order that book!

  4. I love the visual. WOW! I was sad to read that about Quaker Oats "natural" granola. That is my standby when I don't have time to make it. Looks like I need to give it up and stick to our agave version.


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