It’s no secret that sugar is a large contributor to the obesity epidemic in the United States. According to the World Health Organization guidelines on sugar intake, the daily-recommended allotment of sugar is no more than 30g per day. That’s less than one can of soda, one bowl of Lucky Charms, or one regular Milky Way bar. Sugar addiction is a real thing, and cutting down on sugar is no simple task in today’s world of processed foods. It’s in just about every packaged food you can find at the grocery store. If you don’t see the word “sugar” in the ingredients list, it’s probably just hiding in another form as a word you don’t recognize.

If sugar is in so many foods, how do you start to cut back? Aside from pure willpower, one of the best first steps you can take is arming yourself with some knowledge. A general education on how much sugar is in the foods you eat and what that actually looks like is important for understanding how much sugar you consume. You’ll be amazed at how much sugar you take in each day if you take the time to add it all up. Another important step is learning how to identify sugar on food labels. Knowing the alternative names that processed food manufacturers use to disguise sugar on their labels will give you a big leg up in the war on sugar.

How much sugar is in my favorite foods?

One 12-ounce can of soda has 39g of sugar. Can you easily picture how much sugar that is? What if I told you that same can has nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar? Visualizing your sugar intake can work wonders for understanding how much you ingest. If you really want to get an idea of your sugar intake, here’s a fun little experiment to try. Grab a bag of sugar, an empty bowl, and a teaspoon. Record the sugar content of everything you eat for a week. Add one level teaspoon of sugar to the bowl for every 4 grams of sugar you record. If you’re close to the average American, you’ll have more than two pounds of sugar in that bowl by the end of the week!

How do I find sugar on the label if it’s not called sugar?

Identify sugar on nutrition labels by learning the other names for sugar. It really is that simple! It can seem a bit tricky at first, as there are more than 50 alternative names for sugar, but it becomes easy with a bit of practice. Start by learning some of the most common names, like brown sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, sorbitol, and sucrose. Once you learn those, focus on a few more, and eventually you’ll be able to identify them all! Understanding how much sugar is in the foods we eat is an important first step in the journey to reducing overall sugar intake.


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