Every 5 years, the US government revises its Dietary Guidelines and there is a new set of guidelines that will be completed by the end of 2020. One of the focuses of the new guidelines will be the consumption of added sugar. This is due to some staggering statistics over the past 4 years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 70% of Americans are overweight and 42% are obese, based on looking at Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation. 14% of kids age 2 - 5 are obese, 18% of kids 6-11 are obese and 21% of kids 12 – 19 are obese. We are a nation in an obesity epidemic! And we know that overweight and obesity is linked to most major illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and cancer.
The answer is simple conceptually but not as simple to achieve. We must limit our consumption of added sugar. The current US dietary guidelines call for no more than 10% of your daily calories coming from added sugar. The new guidelines will lower that to no more than 6% of your daily calorie intake from sugar. Interestingly, the new guidelines will also call for no added sugar at all for children under two years of age!!!!! A gram of sugar equals 4 calories so if you eat a 2000 calorie a day diet, this would allow you no more than 120 calories in added sugar a day. Just as one example, a 16 oz pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (my personal weak spot) has 50 grams of sugar or 200 calories from sugar, which would be 10% of your daily calorie intake. You are already over the 6% new recommendation and if you consume any other added sugar that day, you are going way over. If you aren't into counting calories and calculating percentages (which I generally don't do with clients), one guideline is to try to keep sugar consumption under 25 grams per day.
Of course, many of the food industry lobbyists are up in arms about the proposed new guidelines, especially people like the National Confections Association and the American Beverage Association. They are urging the government to keep the 10% guideline, saying there is not enough new evidence to change the guidelines. Big surprise. Keep your eyes on this topic over the next few months, to see if their lobbying efforts have any effect. The committee that is making these decisions is supposed to be impartial and without conflict of interest, so we’ll see what happens.
Bottom line…as sweet as added sugar is, it is highly addicting and linked to so many poor health outcomes, we have to decide for ourselves if it’s worth eating more than the guidelines suggest. Here’s a few tips for reducing sugar in your life:
1. Check all of your packaged, canned and boxed food products for sugar content. They add sugar to things you wouldn’t think, like tomato sauce, broth and salad dressing.
2. Try a sugar purge for a week or two, eliminating all added, refined sugar. See how you feel. You might be surprised how much more energy, better sleep and calmer mood you have.
3. One thing I often do with Coaching Clients is ask them to make a Pro/Con list for eating sugar, listing why they like to eat sugar and why they might want to limit/eliminate added sugar. Then we figure out how we can make the Cons of eating it outweigh the Pros.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to look at this issue in your life to see where you are with it and where you would like to go. If you need resources or have questions, reach out to me here.