Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sticken' it to 'em
I have very mixed feelings about the new guidelines for sugar intake that the American Heart Association has recently come out with. The basic information is this: try to keep sugar intake to 100 calories of added sugar. Added sugar is defined as sweeteners and syrups that are added to foods, either during the manufacturing process or at the table. This does not include natural sugars that show up in foods like fruits and dairy products.
So let's think about what that means, then. 100 calories is about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams of sugar. That's not a lot. Especially when you remember that added sugar often shows up in non-dessert food like ketchup, spaghetti sauce, teryaki, and do you know how much sugar is in an energy bar?
So lets look at the world through cookies- as I so often do. If you count that an average chocolate chip cookie recipe has about 1 1/2 cups of sugar (that includes the chocolate), that is 72 teaspoons of sugar (1.5 cups x 4 tbsps in a cup x 3 tsps in a tbsp). Assuming the cookie recipe makes two dozen cookies, that's 3 regular sized cookies. In a day. If you never eat any sugar in anything else.
My feelings are quite mixed about this whole thing. I do like my sugar, you know. I wanted to try this out, but in a way which I could succeed. I have decided to start with straight white sugar (so it doesn't include the honey in my tea, or maple syrup I may put on a pancake) that may be added to my cereal, desserts, sauces, and any other food, and limit it to 25 grams. This is hard. It will remind me to drink water, as I do not want to waste my sugar intake on juices and other sweetened drinks.
On the other hand, I LOVE this! You see, if the average can of soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar- that's already 2 teaspoons above the recommended level. The government is indirectly discouraging the consumption of soda, candy, and many other processed foods produced by companies that have long controlled these agencies and all their official "recommended intakes." (Not sure what I'm talking about? Where do you think the food pyramid came from?)
I am curious to see how this pans out. I do think this information has not thus far been highly publicized for a reason. I don't think we'll ever see a commercial recommending the limit of sugar the way the dairy industry advertises having 4 servings of dairy a day (or whatever amount they have decided to push on the American people). In the mean time, I encourage you to join with me in this sugar experiment, and see if we can limit our sugar together.