Spooky Sugar Tips

October 31, 2016

Sugar is hidden in many of our favorite eats. Find out how much sugar we're consuming on average and how to cut back.

Sugar is everywhere, especially today, it’s Halloween! And Halloween usually kicks off the Holiday season, and that means treats, parties and dietary cheats are on the horizon. Regardless of holiday season or not, Americans of all ages are getting more sugar than they’ve bargained for and to add to that, November is National Diabetes Awareness Month - a condition in which sugar plays a huge role. According to the American Heart Association, Americans eat about 22 teaspoons (110 grams) of added sugars a day, that’s 3.6 times the recommendation (or limit) for women and 2.4 times that for men. That’s spookier than a halloween ghost!

In kids, the majority of sugar consumption occurs in the home. Slightly more than half of the added sugar from beverages (54%), and nearly two-thirds (66%) of the added sugars from foods was consumed at home. And it’s a similar story for adults.

So where is the sugar hiding and how can you help your shoppers?

There are many foods on our supermarket shelves with “hidden sugars” so read labels and ingredient lists carefully and look out for ingredients with names like glucose syrup, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, sucrose, malt syrup, fruit juice concentrate, cane juice, and maltose to name a few. There are also some foods that you wouldn’t think contain sugar like, flavored oatmeal, granola, protein bars, iced tea, tomato sauce, sports drinks, marinades, prepared meals and more. It’s important to be vigilant about reading labels, as you never know where sugar might pop up. 

Although most health authorities fail to specify recommendations, some experts including the American Heart Association recommend women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons. (For reference one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains eight or more teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories.). Sugar is implied in heart disease, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, hypertension, diabetes, decreased immunity, general inflammation, and more. 

Here are some suggestions on how to help your shoppers decrease their sugar intake: 

Cut back on added sugars. This includes, coffee, tea, and breakfast items that shoppers may add syrup or a teaspoon of sugar (that might already be sweetened!) To start, encourage customers to try cutting the usual amount of sugar added by half and wean from there. Another great tip is to remove sugar, and sweeteners from the table and possibly even the cupboard! Try adding nutrient dense fruits like berries and bananas to sweeten naturally. 

Make meals more interesting with nutrient dense, antioxidant rich spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

Buy fresh fruits or if you're purchasing canned fruits make sure they are in water or natural juice; avoid those canned in syrup.

When baking treats, substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in equal amounts, or try cutting back on the sugar called for in recipes by one-third - you probably won’t even notice a difference. 

Enjoying sweets doesn’t always mean relying on added sugars. Once shoppers have weaned off some of the sugar in their diet they will start to truly enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and even some vegetables.

Keep an eye out for stealthy sugar this holiday season!