Sugar lovers, addicts and fiends! We’ve got to reel back our sugar consumption; it’s one of the main reasons why so many of us can’t lose our muffin tops. But do you need to give it up entirely, or is there a healthier way to live in harmony with sugar? Well, the American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons, or about 25 grams, of added sugar per day for women. For men that number is nine teaspoons, or about 36 grams. To put that in perspective, if you were to have one 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola or Pepsi, you’ve already ingested 33 grams of sugar, exceeding the daily recommendation for women.
If you’re determined not to go sugar-free, then learn how to incorporate it into your diet. We worked with nutritionist Melody Blackstone from Fitness in Motion Studio in Ashburn, Va. to help plan out an example of a day’s menu of food with just the right amount of sugar to keep your sweet tooth in check.
For breakfast, we keep it simple: egg whites with vegetables cooked in grass-fed butter, coconut or olive oil. This breakfast allows you to start your day strong with protein and keep the sugar to a bare minimum. One large egg white consists of about 0.2 grams of sugar but packs a nice punch with around 3.6 grams of protein. Another option to consider is steel cut oatmeal. If you’d like a ½ cup of strawberries with your oatmeal or your omelette, that’s 4 grams of sugar. We know you want a cup of coffee, right? If you go with one teaspoon of sugar, that’s 4 grams. SUGAR TALLY – 8 grams
Be cautious when you’re snacking. It’s easy to lean on quick, junk foods or a pre-packaged items like a trail mix or nutrition bar. But consider this: It just takes 3 tablespoons of a bag of Planters Trail Mix Nut & Chocolate, for example, to get you to 13 grams of sugar. Always check the labels for the amount of sugar and fiber, which will at least help keep you feeling full longer. Blackstone recommends you take another route: Go for 2 ounces of sliced apples along with 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter. SUGAR TALLY: 8 grams
Once again, you want to pick up the protein! A homemade salad with chicken or salmon is a great way to keep it healthy — you made it so you know what’s in it. If you want to add some zing, make a vinaigrette dressing with olive oil, vinegar, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Two tablespoons drizzled on is less than 1 gram of sugar! SUGAR TALLY: 1 gram-ish
For a bit of a crunch in your snack time, a perfect option would be vegetables. A small serving of celery sticks, baby carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, or broccoli with hummus is an ideal choice. But if you’ve got that mid-afternoon craving for something sweet, go for two dark chocolate Hersey’s kisses, which come in around 2.5 grams of sugar each. SUGAR TALLY: 5 grams
A no-fuss, easy breezy dinner is a simple stirfry. Add chicken breast and some colorful vegetables and you’ve got a tasty and filling way to end your day. Note: Nix the sauce, which will likely have sugar. If you spice your protein just right, you shouldn’t need that sauce. SUGAR TALLY: 0
Mission accomplished! Total sugar here is 22 grams of sugar, 3 grams less than the recommended amount.
THE BIG PICTURE
Sugars are hard to avoid; they’re in almost everything that we eat. But creating a diet that’s low in sugar to help you stay healthy is far from impossible. Keep a food diary to keep your intake in check, and remember that the less sugar you eat, the less you’ll find yourself craving.
Ashley Arnold is a TV reporter living in Wichita, Kansas, and attempting to match clean eating with a morning show schedule. She spends her spare time rock climbing, singing along to musicals, and having loud, laughter filled conversations–often all at the same time.