According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, no more than 10 percent of your total daily calories should come from added sugar. If you’re eating 2,000 calories per day (the amount a moderately active women needs to take in to maintain her weight), that means your sugar intake is capped at roughly 50 grams. But if you really want to cut back, the American Heart Association says that 25 grams is the max you should be eating. (Cue the collective yikes). Here’s what both of those recommendations look like:

Photo, clockwise starting at top left: shilh, jenifoto, MariuszBlach, gbh007, LauriPatterson/istockphoto


1 pack of maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal: 12 grams

You’ve heard that instant oatmeal can be high in sugar (and with “brown sugar” in the name, you know that there’s at least some sweet stuff in there), but this breakfast has the same amount of sugar you’d get from half of a bakery-bought brownie. Food for thought.


A sandwich made with...
- Two slices of whole wheat bread: 6 grams
- Two ounces of deli ham or honey smoked turkey: 2 grams
Lunch total: 8 grams

Even whole wheat bread can contain more sugar than you think, so be sure to read the nutrition facts before you put a loaf in your cart. As for the sandwich meat, anything honey smoked or honey roasted is best avoided—choose non-sweet roasted varieties instead to save at least a gram or two of sugar. If plain oven roasted ham or turkey doesn’t do it for you, try varieties packed with herbs and spices (like rosemary ham or cracked pepper turkey) for flavor with less sugar.


A smoothie made with one cup of vanilla almond milk: 16 grams.

All those grams disappear if you choose an unsweetened version instead.


Pasta topped with 1/2 cup of jarred tomato sauce: 8 grams.

Pasta sauce is one of those sneaky sugar sources we often talk about. Not all brands are high in the sweet stuff though, so check the label before you put it in your shopping cart. Or better yet, make your own.


One chocolate chip cookie: 5.5 grams.

That’s just one cookie, and a relatively small one (about 2 inches across) at that! A cookie of our preferred size has more like 16.5 grams of sugar. Whoops.

TOTAL: 49.5 grams of added sugar

Photo, clockwise starting at top left: dinceras, karandaev, DebbiSmirnoff, anakopa, Foxtrot101/istockphoto


Steel cut oatmeal sprinkled with 1 ½ teaspoons loosely packed brown sugar: 6.3 grams.

It’s tempting to pack down your brown sugar, but you’ll end up consuming much more, and you’re only fooling yourself.


Salad topped with 2 tablespoons of Italian dressing: 3.16 grams.

Using Italian dressing instead of higher sugar options like Russian dressing (7 grams per 2 tablespoons), French dressing (5.1 grams per 2 tablespoons), and honey mustard (7 grams per 2 tablespoons), is a smart way to cut sugar without feeling deprived.


One container of plain, full fat Greek yogurt (4 grams of sugar) with 1/4 cup store bought granola mixed in (2 grams of sugar): 6 grams.

Non-flavored yogurts tend to be lower in added sugar, as do full fat varieties (sugar can be added to low-fat versions to pump up the flavor). Granola can also be a sugar bomb, so be mindful of your portions.


Pasta topped with 1/3 cup jarred pasta sauce : 5.3 grams.

If you don’t have homemade sauce (we get it, making pasta sauce is a whole lot less convenient than opening a jar), try to cut back on your portion instead.


Fresh fruit with homemade whipped cream, made with 1 teaspoon of sugar: 4.2 grams.

Raspberries and blackberries are especially delicious here, plus they’re packed with antioxidants, which makes the whipped cream much easier to justify.

TOTAL: 24.96 grams of added sugar

Photos from top to bottom: haha21, locrifa, vgajic, klaikungwon, Songbird839, modesigns58, Elena_Danileiko, Highwaystarz-Photography, Anna Kurzaeva, bhofack2; istockphoto

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