Organizations and governments are officially (finally) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake. While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems. One - they don’t all agree with each other. And, two, I don’t agree with them at all.

We all know sugar is NOT a health food. It is void of nutrition, and excess consumption is not associated with great health. It is the biggest marketing lie we’ve ever been told and it is about time that we face the truth about what it is doing to our health .

The problem is that sugar is everywhere and is added to just about every processed food there is. And this “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with gut disfunction, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it but we are taught to love it as soon as we come out of the womb as it is found in baby formula and added to baby’s first foods.

So let’s talk about how much sugar is “too much.”

Added sugar vs. naturally occurring sugar. What do some of the officials say?

Before we talk about the “official” numbers (and why I don’t agree with them), you need to know the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.

Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases. But even fruit we should consume in moderation.

“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are concerning. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 25,000 deaths per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, candies, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names, often ending in “-ose.” These include glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.

So, "Total sugars" = "Naturally occurring sugars" + "Added sugars."

The "official" change is the new Nutrition Facts tables. You may remember that in Canada and the USA, they declare the amount of sugar, but don't give it a %DV (% daily value); this means, they've never had a "benchmark" maximum daily value to use. They haven't declared how much is too much. Now, both countries are implementing a %DV for sugar.

In Canada, the %DV is based on 100 g/day of total sugar. Unfortunately, this number is large because it includes both naturally occurring and added sugars. The %DV is in-line with the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation's recommendations of no more than 90 g of total sugars per day.

In 2008, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 76.7 grams per day; this is less than these two benchmarks. Yet, it doesn't seem that people are getting healthier.  I'd argue that 100 g per day total sugar is still too high.

In the USA, the labels are changing too. They are not declaring "total" sugars but will differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50 g of “added” sugars each day. Unfortunately, this is still more than the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum of 24 g/day added sugar for women, and 36 g/day added sugar for men.

What is a better daily sugar goal?

While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they’re not what I consider ideal. For one thing, I’d ditch as many processed food as possible, regardless of their sugar content. There are a ton of studies that show that processed foods are bad for your health, period. I wouldn’t recommend eating your “daily value” of sugar from sweetened processed foods. I don’t recommend even 50 g of "added" sugar per day. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits first.

And listen, no one is perfect and I certainly don't always abide by the absolutely zero sugar policy, but I do believe in limiting the amount of added sugars we eat in our family. It is hard to do because of the kids, but we try!

Second, if you want better gut health, don’t eat sugar, trust me! It is the culprit when it comes to digestive issues – ever heard of candida overgrowth? It is a condition where yeast and bacteria overgrow by feeding off of sugar, keeping the bad-to-good-gut bugs ratio off and creating a hostile environment where good health cannot take place. It is what keeps us bloated, overweight, tired and sick.

Tips to reduce your added sugar intake

Here are some of my most popular recommendations to reduce your sugar intake, so you don't get too much:

●      Eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages; this includes soda, sugar-sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Instead, have fruit-infused water. Or try drinking your coffee/tea "black" or with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead. Use stevia if you must.

●      Reduce (or eliminate) your desserts and baked goods and bake your own instead. You can easily reduce the sugar in a recipe by half. Or try my delicious (no added sugar) dessert recipe below.

●      Instead of a granola bar (or other sugary snack disguising itself as healthy), try fruit, a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks if you prepare them in a “to-go” container the night before.

●      Try going 5 days on a whole-foods diet that incorporates only natural sweeteners such as honey, fruit of stevia like in my FREE Kick Sugar for Good Challenge! I will walk you thought kicking your cravings for the added sugary white stuff and get your gut and brain back ‘online’!

In the meantime, here is a tasty and naturally sweet beverage that will kick your cravings to the curb!

choc frosty.jpg

Recipe: Frosty (no added sugar)

Serves 1

 ¾ cup almond milk (unsweetened)

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

½ banana, frozen

Ice cubes


Add everything into a blender except ice. Blend. Add a handful of ice cubes and pulse until thick and ice is blended.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Double the recipe to share.


‘til next time!