How Much is Too Much? — Thoughts from the New Dietary Guidelines

Today, the federal government issued its much-anticipated update to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  For a read of the new guidelines, click here.

Most of the new guidelines sound familiar: eat more fruits and vegetables, consume more seafood and whole grains, and  cut down on salt, refined grains, sodium, saturated fats, and trans fats.

One new recommendation stands out: we should limit added sugar consumption to no more than 10% of daily calories.

How much added sugar amounts to 10% of daily calories? 

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an average teenage boy needs about 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day and an average teenage girl needs about 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day. 10% limit for added sugar means a maximum of 220 to 320 daily calories from added sugar for teenage boys and a maximum of 180 to 240 daily calories from added sugar for teenage girls.

Let’s take a look at how many calories from added sugar a few common food items translate to:

A 12-ounce canned soft drink alone has 120 to 150 calories from added sugar.

A 12-ounce canned soft drink alone has 120 to 150 calories from added sugar.

A medium-sized blueberry muffin contains about 143 calories from added sugar.

A medium-sized blueberry muffin contains about 143 calories from added sugar.

A small pack of Oreo cookies (6 cookies) contains 92 calories from added sugar.

A small pack of Oreo cookies (6 cookies) contains 92 calories from added sugar.

A 6-ounce strawberry Yoplait yogurt contains about 108 calories from added sugar.

A 6-ounce strawberry Yoplait yogurt contains about 108 calories from added sugar.

A regular size Snickers bar (52.7 g) contains about 110 calories from added sugar.

A regular size Snickers bar (52.7 g) contains about 110 calories from added sugar.

2 cups of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream (424 g) has about 336 calories from added sugar.

2 cups of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream (424 g) has about 336 calories from added sugar.

A 8-ounce Acaí berry drink contains about 100 calories from added sugar.

A 8-ounce Acaí berry drink contains about 100 calories from added sugar.

So, plan your treats accordingly. When you tend to indulge your appetite, do a little math. There are a variety of healthy alternatives, such as water, whole grain snacks, fruits, vegetables, plain yogurt, nuts, seeds, etc. It may be hard at the beginning, but in the long run, a healthy eating habit will pay off.

Happy healthy eating!

21 thoughts on “How Much is Too Much? — Thoughts from the New Dietary Guidelines

  1. This was a very well thought out and written post! Sometimes guidelines, depending on how they’re phrased, are a bit difficult to visualize or apply (i.e. 10% of your daily calories-haha, I wasn’t sure what to make of that!). Having a basis of comparison, as you’ve done with your examples, is vital to integrating those guidelines in day-to-day eating! Ah, the other part of course is taking a look at those nutritional labels… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting! I think we all try to limit our sugar intake and I know I have to be quite strict with myself to not overdo it when I’m surrounded by cakes. I’ve just calculated it might be okay for me to have around two cupcakes a day? Also important for me is doing a good bit of exercise, which usually means I can then safely eat a bit more! 🙂 Thank you for the figures and examples and a useful reminder! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for dropping by! Cakes like yours are so wonderful that sometimes it is hard to resist eating. But I guess we should always have a conscious mind when it comes to healthy eating. Exercise is helpful too, especially for us teenagers.

      Like

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  5. Dear Chris, I’m not sure if you have watched the documentary called Fed Up (or if any of the commenters above mentioned this film), but I encourage you watch it. It speaks heavily about how sugar affects our overall diet and health.

    Liked by 1 person

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