3 Ways to Break Your Sugar Habit

How much sugar is too much, and simple ways to eat less added sugar.

A recent survey suggests that Americans consume 355 calories, or 22 teaspoons, of added sugar a day—much of that comes from soda and packaged foods. And although there isn’t a direct scientific link, it’s likely that the weight gain in our population is related, in part, to our increased intake of added sugars. In 2009, the American Heart Association released a statement on how much sugar to eat (rest assured, a little bit of sugar is OK.)

Here’s what the AHA recommends:

—Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Editor

Watch: More Tips to Cut Sugar from Your Diet


1. No More Than 100 Calories Per Day From Added Sugar

1. No More Than 100 Calories Per Day From Added Sugar

Most women should eat, or drink, no more than 100 calories per day from added sugar, about 6 teaspoons. For men the cutoff is 150 calories from added sugars, or about 9 teaspoons. As a point of reference, a 12-ounce can of cola contains approximately 130 calories or about 8 teaspoons of added sugar.


2. The AHA Recommendations Only Apply to Added Sugars

2. The AHA Recommendations Only Apply to Added Sugars

Added sugars—those that are added to food by consumers or added during manufacturing (that means the sugar added to your crackers, cereal and other packaged foods counts). The naturally occurring sugar in fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy doesn’t count.


1. Have Fruit for Dessert

1. Have Fruit for Dessert

Skip the cookies and ice cream and make fruit into your after-dinner treat. You’ll avoid added sugar and get some cancer-fighting antioxidants and fiber from the fruit.


2. Drink Smarter

2. Drink Smarter

Ditch soda and instead treat yourself to a low-calorie fizzy fruit-flavored seltzer drink using no-sugar-added 100 percent fruit juice.


3. Make Your Own Yogurt Parfait

3. Make Your Own Yogurt Parfait

Flavored yogurt (even vanilla) contains added sugars. Instead, make your own custom concoction by topping low-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit.