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By Brett Freliche

The average U.S. Citizen consumes an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day.  This isn’t the natural sugars found in whole fruits and vegetables. This is sugar that is added to your food, which could be sugar you add yourself, or sugar that is added to foods you buy.  New dietary guidelines suggest no more than 10% of your total caloric intake be from sugar. So if you take a 2000 calorie diet, that’s 200 calories from added sugar, or 12 teaspoons (the math is actually 4.2g = 1 tsp).   

If you add sugar to your coffee or tea, that is one area you can improve upon, but the real culprit are those hidden added sugars.  Think ketchup, peanut butter, tomato sauce, yogurt, dried fruit, energy bars, and flavored water. These are just a few.

Sugar addiction is a real thing, and is comparable – if not worse – to cocaine addiction.  Recent studies involving lab rats who were addicted to sugar would cross a electro shock grid in order to gain access to a single M&M.  How many times have you consumed something with sugar, only to want more of that item? That is the dopamine release in the brain, telling you that was good and to get more of it.  

The one thing you can do to reduce your sugar intake is review the food labels on any packaged foods to find out if any added sugar has been added.  Also review the ingredients to see if any sugars have been added. Simply looking for the word “sugar” won’t cut it either. The suffix “ose” is used in biochemistry to form the names of sugars.  These include but are not limited to glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, lactose and dextrose. Other sugars are corn syrup, honey, fruit juice, maple syrup and raw sugar.

Below are some food items and their sugar content.  


Brands: Jif or Skippy

This brand of peanut butter has 3g of added sugar to it.  Why add sugar to something that already tastes so freaking awesome??

Suggestion: Go with a natural peanut butter, one that at maximum contains peanuts and sea salt.  We like the ones from Trader Joe’s.



Brands: Heinz, Hunts.

This condiment 4g of sugar per 2 tablespoons.  Yep, for those of you who looooove ketchup, beware.  You are just adding empty calories to your food.

Suggestion: Although not as popular, mustard is a great substitute for that lettuce wrap burger (ya’ll are going bunless…right?)



Brands: Vlasic, Mt. Olive.

Just two of these ultra sweet pickles have 5g of sugar per 2 slices.  What’s worse is these jars contain high fructose corn syrup.

Suggestions: go for the kosher dill.  Those are usually calorie free.



These seem like a healthy alternative, but they pack a whopping 24g of sugar per container.  

Suggestion: Oikos Triple Zero yogurt.  It has zero added sugars.



Brands: Coke, Pepsi

One 12 oz can contains 39g of sugar.  All that, and zero nutritional value.

Suggestions: If just plain water won’t do, go for sparkling waters like LaCroix, Dasani Sparkling Waters, or if you need that cola taste, Zevia.



Brand: Starbucks

Let’s be real, this is basically a shake.  It contains 55g of sugar per 16 oz. Yep, you’ll likely go over your daily added sugar allowance with this one.

Suggestions: Starbucks used to carry a light Frappuccino, but I’ve seen reports that these have been discontinued.  Go for an iced coffee with cream. I know it’s not the same, but hey, so is life with diabetes.