I did my best to follow the advice that I give to patients and I tried to follow my normal pattern and just track what I normally eat. I rediscovered what I have known from previous attempts to monitor what I eat: it is rather time consuming and tedious to track what you eat! It definitely takes time out of my day and sometimes I forget to record things. But even imperfect tracking is better than nothing and I definitely learned a couple things from taking a closer look at my diet.
First, I eat a lot more sugar than I thought! The current guidelines, given by World Health Organization and the American Heart Association, recommend that people limit their added sugar intake to 10 % of their daily calories or about 18 teaspoons per day for men and 12 for women. The AVERAGE added sugar intake for most Americans is around 22 – 28 teaspoons per day, about 40 % of which is estimated to come from sugary drinks, such as soda, sports drinks, flavored waters, coffee drinks and even some juices. Since I try not to drink any sugary drinks, I thought I would be pretty good. Well, you never know until you know; my added sugar for the first day was about 16 teaspoons, more than 250 calories from added sugar! It snuck in from a variety of sources, my mid-afternoon chocolate treats, the kettle corn snack I had with my kids, a fortune cookie after lunch and of course in the sugar that I spoon into my coffee.
I also rediscovered that almost as soon as I started tracking what I eat, I wanted to change my habits. The second day of tracking what I ate, I broke out my little old measuring spoon and found that I could live with just two teaspoons of sugar instead of the three or four that had become a habit. However, in full honesty, when I gave myself the day off of tracking my sugar intake, I happily went back to four teaspoons of sugar in my coffee!
Now that I have some idea of my baseline sugar intake, in the next week I will take a closer look at where it is all coming from and if there are any easy ways to get my intake down closer to 12 teaspoons!
Join me! Track your daily added sugar use and see how little changes can make a big difference! There are many food trackers that allow you to track sugar – I am using the US FDA program – https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx
Read Part I of this series: My Strange Affair with Sugar Continues.
Correction! On my last post I was too restrictive with my sugar limits! The WHO is indeed taking comments on guidelines that would recommend that each of us limit our added sugar intake to 5 % of our daily calories, but this works out to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men! Whew!