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The recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides sugar recommendations for the first time. It is recommended that we consume no more than 10% of our calories from added sugars. For example on a 2,000 calorie diet, that would be equal to eating 12 teaspoons or 200 calories or less of added sugar.

Added sugar is found in candy, chocolate, cookies, soda, coffee drinks, energy drinks, etc. The 10% does not include sugars that are naturally occurring, such as, in fruit and milk. Twice the recommended amount of sugar is typically consumed by Americans through beverages and snacks. Children also easily meet or exceed the recommended sugar amount by getting many of their added sugar calories from fruit juice, fruit snacks, cereals, and other sugary snacks. 

Needless to say consuming 10% or less of our calories from added sugar is not an easy task. Consuming too much sugar has been linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  Sugar also leads to tooth decay or cavities.   

It is no surprise that we should limit that amount of added sugar we consume, but how do we put these new recommendations into action? Here are 8 achievable actions to ensure that your family begins to limit the amount of added sugar they consume, most of the time. 

  1. "Sweeten" It Up With Spices.
    Try using cinnamon, ginger, or vanilla extract to give foods such as oatmeal, cereal, or toast an extra kick.  
  2. Eat Fruit.
    Fruit has naturally occurring sugar that will satisfy your sweet tooth and provides valuable fiber, vitamins and minerals for your body.
  3. Think Your Drink.
    Limit the amount of sugar calories you consume through soda, coffee drinks, juice, and energy drinks. Hydrate with water and milk.
  4. Fancy Up Your Water
    Add a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, or handful of berries to your water.
  5. Aim for More Fiber.
    Eating more fiber will make you feel full. When your body feels full you won't have as much of a craving for sweet foods. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. 
  6. Choose Low Sugar Cereal.
    Look for cereal that has 10 grams of sugar or less per serving. A serving is typically 1 cup of cereal, read the Nutrition Facts label for product specific information.    
  7. Check the Serving Sizes.
    Instead of two handfuls, maybe have just one handful per day? 
  8. Make It From Scratch.
    Making meals and snacks from scratch will spare you the extra sugar, fat, and sodium often found in processed or prepared foods.  

The key to success is all foods fit. Don't ban sugar, just be aware and implement small changes that will make it an easy and attainable goal for your family.

Carrie Miller MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Carrie Miller is a mother of two and Registered Dietitian with a Master degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics. Carrie has worked at UNL Extension in Omaha for over 12 years managing the Nutrition Education Program and teaching limited resource audiences. Special interests include feeding children healthy, fun foods, and finding time to get outside and be active. Learn more about Carrie and the other UNL Extension nutrition experts at ...

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Categories: nutrition,