Week 6 – Drastically reduce your sugar intake!

This is part 6 in the series 52 Weeks of Health. If you are just joining us please start at the beginning.

Sugar by any other name (glucose, dextrose, fructose, honey, agave, syrup, corn syrup, molasses) is still sugar and should be regarded as a toxin to be enjoyed only once in a while. I have already written a post about some of the diseases in which sugar is implicated; check out What’s So Bad About Sugar to educate yourself. If you think you can’t give up sugar, or won’t give up sugar, or shouldn’t have to give up sugar, then chances are you are a sugar addict. Most of us are.

The American Heart Association has current recommendations of 6 teaspoons (about 25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (about 36 grams) for men. Personally I think that number should be lower, but I’ll go along with this for a start unless you are diabetic Diabetics should cut out all added sugar (and most fruit) if they want to control their blood sugars with little to no medications.

Americans consume an average of 150 pounds of sugar per year; some consume far less than this, some far more. One hundred and fifty pounds is almost one cup of sugar (or 48 teaspoons) per day. Where does all that sugar come from?

  •  If you drink one 20 ounce bottle of Coca Cola each day, you are consuming about 1/3 cup (15 teaspoons) of sugar per day with that bottle alone.
  • That small Dunkin Donuts Caramel Mocha Coffee has 1/8 cup (6 teaspoons) of sugar; a large has ¼ cup of sugar.
  • One cup of Campbell’s Tomato Soup has 3 teaspoons of sugar.
  • That Kashi GoLean Protein & Fiber Bar (55 gram size) has about 4 teaspoons of sugar per bar.
  • One packet of flavored Quaker instant oatmeal has 2 – 3 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Two tablespoons of Jif peanut butter has almost one teaspoon of sugar.
  • One cup of Yoplait Greek yogurt has 3 teaspoons of added sugar (on top of naturally occurring milk sugars.)
  • Lean Cuisine Roasted Honey Chicken meal has more than 4 teaspoons of sugar.
  • A half cup of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream has 7 teaspoons of sugar.
  • One tablespoon of ketchup contains about 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Do you see how quickly your sugar consumption can increase? The majority of processed foods have added sugar (even the ones you don’t think of as being sweet.) Cutting back on sugar will mean cutting out many processed foods. Read the labels. If a product has more than one or two grams of sugar per serving it does not enter our house (one teaspoon of sugar = about 4 grams). If we choose to indulge in a little sweet poison, we do it outside of the house at a special celebration. That way we are not tempted at home.

It will take some time for the sugar cravings to subside; you may go through withdrawal. Hang in there! Drink more water, have a handful of nuts, or some cheese, or some veggies and dip. Try to avoid substituting more fruit, bread, or other carbs. Those carbs are just turned into sugar by your body and your addiction will continue. Once you break the addiction you will be amazed at how sweet vegetables taste. Food will taste better and you will feel more in control of your eating than you have for years. This step will be one of the hardest steps you will have to make during the 52 Weeks of Health, but it will also be ultimately one of the most rewarding. I promise you.

Please share your experiences and questions in the comment section!



  1. Danielle

    What about the adverse affects of sucralose (splenda), often a diabetic’s best friend? Marshall’s grandmother is diabetic and just suffered a minor stroke. She knows she has to change the way she eats, but is going from regular sugar to sucralose really just trading one poison for another?

    • In my opinion, Danielle, you are right. I never advocate switching from sugar to an artificial sweetener. I will be doing a future post on artificial sweeteners, but for now suffice it to say I think switching to those is jumping from the frying pan into the fire. There is too much risk in consuming them and they maintain your craving for and dependence on sweet things. Unfortunately a diabetic has no choice but to learn to live 99% of the time without sweet things if they want to be healthy. That is how we live for the sake of my husband’s health. It can be done and, in fact, after a few months you really have very little desire for sweet things anymore. I’m not saying I don’t ever eat something sweet – I’m not diabetic – but my husband has something sweet probably less than once a month while I shoot for less than once a week.

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