Last week I set out on the challenge of measuring my intake of sugar over the day using Change4Life’s Sugar Smart App. The NHS suggests eating no more than eating 30 grams of sugar a day – the equivalent of 7 sugar cubes. I was interested to see how much sugar I consumed and whether a limit of 30 grams per day was achievable.
The quick answer to this is yes, eating under 30 grams of sugar every day is very achievable. The app helped me to achieve this goal primarily by putting me off of choosing foods that I knew would be high in sugar such as biscuits and chocolate. My family and I tend to eat freshly made meals rather than ready meals or ready made sauces etc. which certainly helps keep sugar at bay. Finally, steering clear of sugary drinks can dramatically decrease sugar consumption – as I have found out.
An interesting thing I found during this challenge was that the %’s shown on the food packaging traffic light system is for a value around 90 grams – 3X higher than the recommended limit! The traffic light system may, therefore, be misleading so I would recommend looking at the grams of sugar rather than % of daily intake.
(It’s worth mentioning that I did not measure the sugar levels in the fruit and vegetables I ate, only in processed foods. I did eat fruit and veg which will have added to the total but I’m going to consider them to be good sugars.)
Day 1 – 17.2 grams. My sugar intake for this day primarily came from breakfast cereal at 8.4 grams of sugar and ketchup at 5 grams (not together!). Everything else was fairly low in sugar – baked potato with tuna and cheese and chicken and chips.
Day 2 – 19.6 grams. A whopping 13.6 grams of sugar was in the double choca mocha instant drink I had, again getting the day off to a bad start. A cheese and tomato sandwich only came to 6 grams of sugar. Dinner being homemade was sugar-free.
Day 3 – 11.4 grams. Boiled egg and soldiers provided 3 grams of sugar from the bread and a sandwich at lunch doubled this. Chicken pesto pasta only added 2 grams of sugar from the pasta (we buy a sugar-free pesto) but 2 rich tea biscuits as a snack added a further 3.4 grams.
Day 4 – 21.6 grams. 10.3 grams of sugar from 1/2 a can of baked beans and 3 grams from the bread it was on. A snack of falafel and lamb koftas was 4.3 grams. A takeaway pizza had roughly 4 grams of sugar.
Day 5 – 118.7 grams (primarily from sugary drinks). Today was a Saturday and I’m going to say it was a treat day. The day started well with only 3 grams of sugar from scrambled egg and smoked salmon on toast. But 10 grams of sugar from an enchilada kit and 17.7 grams for a Gu key lime pie meant that I had already totaled 30.7 grams. Then I went out and had around 500ml of Spirte at a whopping 34 grams and probably an extra 250ml of coke at an even worse (considering the size of the serving) 27 grams of sugar. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. A post club Burger King added 7 grams from a cheeseburger and a blue Powerade added another 20 grams. I did have a good night and considering that it is not all the time, I think a sugar binge every now and then is OK.
What have I learned? It is important to see how much sugar is in something before you eat it. Try to avoid highly processed food and most importantly, limit your intake of sugary drinks! I should also point out that cutting down on sugar should not mean replacing them with sweeteners!