Today is all about numbers. We are constantly examining the numbers that quantify our food. The number of calories. The number of pieces in one serving. The milligrams of sodium. The number of carbs. Well I’m only concerned with one number: grams of sugar.
Take a look at the following meal plan.
- coffee with a splash of non-fat milk
- 1 blueberry flavored non-fat Chobani yogurt
- 1 cranberry almond + antioxidants KIND bar
- Spinach salad with chicken, feta, strawberries, and pecans
- 2 tbs Lite Raspberry & Walnut Vinaigrette dressing
- 1 Tall Caffè Latte from Starbucks with Non-Fat Milk
Now, if you ask me, this sounds like the meal plan of a young woman on a diet. Her meals are all pretty small, and sound fairly healthy. She’s choosing all non-fat milk, eating yogurt, a gluten-free granola bar that’s packed with antioxidants, she’s got her vegetables, having whole-grains for dinner and light pasta sauce, and her dessert is only 80 calories. Sounds like a smart woman.
In fact, all of her meals combined today only cost her 1,380 calories.
For women who are trying to lose weight, this falls right in the range of the 1,000 – 1,600 calorie daily allowance. However, this number is much lower than the 2,000 calorie diet that The National Institues of Health recommends, who also says that the least amount of calories consumed should be 1,600, and that’s by a sedentary woman ages 51 and older. It’s hard to say how many calories are too much or too little since body types and sizes differ, but the bottom line is, 1,380 calories is not a lot for a woman in one day – In fact, it sounds like this woman would probably lose weight.
It really doesn’t seem like this woman had that much to eat, though. If I were her, I would have probably been pretty hungry at multiple times throughout the day.
So, she didn’t eat a lot, and would probably lose weight based on the calories she consumed.
The problem is, this woman consumed at least 64 grams of sugar.
Guys. That’s 16 teaspoons of sugar. That’s about 14 oreos. or 42 swedish fish. or 27 Hershey’s Kisses.
The American Heart Association allows 6 – 9 teaspoons a day.
Our example woman has eaten about double the allotted amount in a day. Now eat like that for a week. Then a month. See where I’m going?
Now that was for someone who seemed to be “dieting.” Let’s think about what someone who’s not as calorie conscious might eat. Let’s take a teenage boy. (Don’t mean to discriminate, I just don’t know too many teenage boys who eat Chobani and salad.)
Lets say for breakfast they have a big bowl of Golden Grahams and a glass of orange juice.
For lunch, maybe they pop into McDonalds because their metabolisms are ridiculous at this age and the golden arches don’t scare them one bit. They get a bacon McDouble, fries, and a Sprite. Extra ketchup.
When they get home from school, they’re real hungry, so they grab a pack of Lance peanut butter snack crackers. Ahh looks like Mom picked up the new whole grain kind…maybe this will counteract the burger they ate for lunch? Gonna need a tall glass of milk to wash those crackers down.
You and your siblings are on a tight sports practice schedule, so mom has to whip up something quick for dinner: looks like it’s meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. Plus more milk.
All late night snacks aside, this boy has consumed at least 173 grams of sugar.
That’s a little over 43 teaspoons of sugar. That is WELL over five times your daily allowance.
That’s 37 oreos. That’s one more than a full package of oreos.
That’s 6.4 Snickers bars.
Thats 74 Hershey’s kisses.
If you’re wondering where most of the sugar in this boy’s diet came from, let me tell you, the soda was the biggest culprit by a mile. A regular, 12-oz can of coke is 39 grams of sugar. That’s 9.75 teaspoons. One can of coke, and you’ve already maxed out your daily allowance for sugar. You get a large soda with your value meal? You’re done for.
And where did the the sugar come from for our “healthy woman?” The non-fat milk, the Chobani yogurt, the granola bar, the salad dressing, the pasta, the Prego sauce, all of the processed foods.
I’m gonna give you a great Day 14 meal plan, and do some math for you at the end, Cheers!
DRINK 8 oz. of water when you wake up
- 8 oz. water
- 2 eggs
- half an avocado
- An apple
- 2 tbs of almond butter
DRINK 16 oz. of water before lunch
- Chicken breast
- Sautéd spinach and onions
- steamed baby carrots sprinkled with cinnamon
-if you’re still hungry at all throughout the day, have some red pepper slices, or a handful of raw almonds, walnuts, or pecans
- 8 oz. water
- pesto spaghetti squash
- oven roasted tomatoes
- pine nuts
8 oz. of water before bed
All of these meals together had 25.4 grams of sugar.
That’s 6.35 teaspoons.
But where did the sugar come from?
- half avocado = 0.6 grams
- pink lady apple = 14 grams
- 2 tbs almond butter = 3 grams
- 1/3 c. white onion = 2 grams
- baby carrots = 0.5 grams
- 1 cup spaghetti squash = 2.8 grams
- roasted tomatoes = 2.5 grams
And the sugar that you’re eating in these meals? It’s natural sugar, the kind found in whole fruits and vegetables that our bodies need for energy, not the refined stuff that we get out of the can or box.
Sometimes, when you can’t figure out the costs and benefits of something, you need to break it down into the raw numbers – it’s a good way to compare quantities and really understand exactly what you’re paying for.