A tale of Halloweens past: When I was a wee Lindsey trick-or-treating with friends in 1990-something, the most coveted candy in all the land was...the Reese’s peanut butter cup!
:: ooooo....ahhhhhh :: After a long night’s haul, whoever possessed the largest number was crowned victor, and was awarded the prize of…eating the most Reese’s cups. Plus the rest of our stash. So. Much. Candy. Truthfully, now, thinking about eating that much candy makes feel sick to my stomach. It’s been a really long time since I’ve had a bowl of candy in a sitting, or a soda, or a venti-mocha-frappa-whatever. But there are plenty of adults with a sweet tooth, who still regularly drink sodas, and have morphed their childhood candy itch into a morning doughnut routine.
Despite what the flashy nutrition memes say, sugar alone will not kill you. However, like most things, it can be used improperly with some pretty unhealthy consequences. The recommended daily intake of added sugars per American Heart Association and World Health Organization guidelines is no more than 36 grams for men, 25 grams for women, or 10% of overall calories (5% if you’re being extra cautious). For reference, a half cup of cookie dough ice cream has 25 grams of sugar, 1 bottle Honest organic honey green tea 19 grams of sugar, and standard grande Starbucks PSL 50 grams of sugar (sorry!). In other words, it’s easy to miss this target if you aren’t paying attention.
Take-Home #1: Know what you’re eating! Read your labels, ask what’s in your food. Check this page out for help on identifying sugars in labels: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/added-sugars .
Take-Home #2: You’re allowed to treat yourself. Food is part of life, and we’re meant to enjoy it. If you like sweets, learn how to incorporate them responsibly (this can be a process, ask for help if needed). I start my hard soda drinkers on a goal of 1-2 weekly max, and my own informal research has a 100% success rate with patients/clients reporting less desire to drink soda when they achieve this (yes, 100%, give it a shot, let me know how it goes).
Take-Home #3: Note that we’re talking about “added” sugars. Meaning, sugars that weren’t naturally occurring in the whole food to begin with (ex. Whole fruit contains naturally occurring fructose, this is okay). The new food labels separate these out for clarity. Have a look! Don’t stress. Enjoy responsibly.
(Disclaimer – Like any nutrition recommendation, this is not going to be appropriate 100% of the time for every single person. Before making major nutrition changes, chatting with a registered dietitian or your doctor is a good idea.)