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Lesson #11

Being Aware of Sugar Sources

Welcome to your 11th Simple Strategies for Nutrition Beginners lesson

Be Aware of Sugar Sources


Simple Strategy:

Stay mindful of your sugar intake.

Let's learn about sugar:

  • How your body uses it.

  • How much is appropriate.

  • Complete an eye opening sugar activity.

When we eat foods that contain sugar, our body breaks it down and stores it in the liver and muscles or uses it for energy. When too much sugar is consumed the excess can be stored as body fat.

How much sugar is okay? 
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are:


Women & children ages 2-18:

(24 grams or 6 teaspoons)



(36 grams or 9 teaspoons)

How much added sugars do most Americans consume?
Americans eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day according to a report from the 2005-10 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) database.*

Common sources of sugar are: sodas, flavored coffee drinks, sports drinks, ice cream, flavored yogurts, cereal, ketchup, barbeque sauce, spaghetti sauce, chocolate milk, granola, snack bars (including some protein bars), premade soup, canned fruit and canned baked beans.


To avoid the excess sugar in many of these products,

it’s best to make them at home. 


This puts you in control of the amount of sugar in that meal.

We understand that it might always be possible to cook your own food. 

If you’re not able to make them at home, look at the labels.

Choose the brands:

  • With lower sugar amounts

  • Sugar is towards the bottom of the ingredient list.


Sugary drinks can be a big source of sugar in our diets.  Products can have deceiving packaging that says, “100% juice” or “all natural” but still contain high amounts of sugar.  

We’d like to show you an eye opening demonstration of the actual amounts of sugar in common beverages.

First, determine the total amount of sugar in a beverage you choose often.

To calculate this:
1. Look for sugar content on the label.
2. Look for the number of servings in that beverage.
3. If there is more than one serving in that product, multiply the amount of sugar on the label by the number of servings in that beverage.

4. Divide that number by 4 (a teaspoon of sugar contains 4 grams).

Here’s an example: 28 grams of sugar listed were listed on the label.  2.5 total servings were on the label.  This make the grand total of sugar in that bottle 70 grams of sugar. When we divided 70 by 4, this equaled 17.5.  There were 17.5 teaspoons of sugar to be measured into the clear plastic cups.


Can you believe some beverages had

over 17 teaspoons of sugar in them?




Simple Strategy:


Journal your nutrition for 3 days to record your sugar intake.

Some popular food journaling apps are: MyFitnessPal or Lose It. FitBit also has a food journaling feature.

1.  At the end of the day look up your total sugar consumed.

2.  Look at what foods or beverages you drank that gave you the highest amounts of sugar.

3.  Work on eliminating these from your diet or decreasing the frequency and amount that you are consuming.


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