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I Tried to Eat Only 25 Grams of Sugar a Day, Here’s What I Learned

I Tried to Eat Only 25 Grams of Sugar a Day, Here’s What I Learned

Sugar is so delicious, isn’t it? I mean, not straight up or anything, but mixed into things, like chocolate chips and chocolate cake and chocolate bars and…well, I guess you can tell I like chocolate.

It’s not just in things like baked goods and candy, though, it’s in tons of beverages, coffee drinks, tomato sauces, ketchup, yogurt, salad dressings, and more.

How much sugar should you eat per day?

In recent years the recommendation for total grams of added sugar had been lowered; the World Health Organization used to say that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from it, and then they lowered it down to 5%. For most women, that means about 25 grams of sugar per day, which equals 6 teaspoons. (Guys get about 9 teaspoons. Lucky.)

Although I’m actually a big fan of fruits and veggies and whole grains and all that jazz, I do love me some baked goods. However, I am not a soda-drinker, and I don’t eat sweetened yogurts, so I thought keeping my intake to 25 grams or less per day would be pretty easy.

It wasn’t.

Tips to reduce the amount of sugar you eat daily

I don’t want to mislead you—it wasn’t torture and it wasn’t impossible, but it was a real challenge and I had to be super conscious of my choices all the time, which was honestly quite annoying. I did achieve my goal on most days, but certainly not all of them. If you’d like to keep your sugar intake low, too, here’s what I learned:

Never drink sweetened beverages

You probably already know this, but they add so many calories to your diet and, of course, to your sugar intake.

Watch out for condiments

I don’t eat ketchup all that often, but if I make home fries or sweet potato rounds, I like to dip them in ketchup, and the sugar in that little delicious red blob adds up quickly. It’s easy to think you’re just squirting out a serving when really you’ve got three or four on there. Which is why you should.

Measure everything

Let’s talk about maple syrup. I’m a New England girl, so we only buy the real stuff, and I freaking love it. However, I know it’s all sugar, and if I pour it on my waffle or pancake I’ll use way too much. Even if I put it in a dipping container to control my portion, if I don’t measure, it’s almost certain I’ll overestimate how much I’m about to consume. If you really want to stick to a limit, measuring will have to be part of your life.

Learn to love dark chocolate

One of the things that helped get me through the month with my sanity intact was 85% dark chocolate bars by Lindt. I know that’s too strong for some people, but a one-ounce serving only has 2.5 grams of sugar. Which means I can eat 10 oz of chocolate a day, right? Right?

Either give up baked goods or make your own low or lower sugar versions

It stinks, but you can’t just go to a restaurant or store and buy a brownie and eat it all, because it probably has well over your total daily limit for sugar. Boom! Over the limit in one snack. The best way to avoid this is to just give up baked goods except for really special occasions, but another option is to start baking your own stuff. Honestly, many recipes still taste good with 1/3 less sugar than the recipe calls for; you can also try sweetening with applesauce, dates, or a sugar substitute like Stevia.

Since the month ended I admit I haven’t been counting my sugar grams, and I’ve probably gone over on multiple occasions. However, just writing this article makes me realize I need to get back into gear and keep an eye on my sugar intake, so maybe reading this article will do the same for you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jimsboy
    6 months ago

    I love Homemade Bread, Cards I know but I know what goes in it. Flour, Yeast, Salt, and pure water. Does anyone do this?

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    6 months ago

    Hi Jimsboy, thanks for commenting. I hope some home bakers in our community chime in and share their experience. I’m sure others enjoy baking their own bread. Along the same lines, anytime you cook at home and know what ingredients are going in to your food is great! Have you tried different varieties of bread? Using whole grain flours with more fiber may be helpful in managing blood sugar. The portion certainly makes a big difference too. Wishing you the best, Kelly, Community Moderator

  • CMP1
    7 months ago

    very interesting and reassuring, especially since I am a chocolate lover!

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