Sugar can often be the ‘Achilles heel’ for anyone trying to lose weight. Do you tend to grab something that is sweet and tasty?
Eating sweets and sugary foods, coupled with other activities such as working, watching TV or movies or driving can often lead to you eat a lot more sugar than if you were consciously thinking about it. For example, while watching a movie it is very easy to pack away a slab or even jumbo slab of chocolate as opposed to the recommended serving size.
These foods can often be charged with excessive amounts of sugar and sometimes eating or drinking even one such food can cause us to exceed our energy and sugar recommendations for the day.
The World Health Organization recommends that sugar intake should not exceed 10% of our total energy intake. To give you an idea, with a restricted calorie diet which allows for 1200 calories per day, the daily limit of sugar is 6 teaspoons per day. This includes the sugar/ honey/ syrup/ jams that you may use as well as the added sugars present in foods.
In the table below, we summarised the sugar content of some common snack foods, just to raise your awareness of how much sugar may actually be in these foods:
These are just rough guidelines to give you an idea of the amounts of sugar present in these foods. Ultimately it would be best if you can determine the amount of sugar present in these products yourself. This would require you to be able to read food labels. Below are five easy steps to determining the sugar contents of snacks:
Look at the nutrient content table on the food labels.
- Look at the heading “Glycaemic carbohydrate” or “Carbohydrates” under which there is a heading “of which total sugar”. This amount tells you how much sugar (usually in grams) has been added to the product
- One teaspoon of sugar weighs about five grams.
- Take the amount (explained above in point 2) and divide it by five to determine the amount of teaspoons of sugar in the product.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Please note whether the amount of sugar is “per serving” (and how much this is) or “per 100g” and compare this to the amount that you are actually eating.
Here is a quick example of a situation to make sure you understand.
Jenny has just brought herself a carton of fruit juice of which she is planning to drink about two glasses (each glass being approximately 250ml). Determine the amount of total sugar that she will consume.
Complied by Cecile Niebuhr RD(SA)