Reducing Added Sugar in the Diet

There was an interesting piece in the Smarter Living section of the NY Times this morning about how to reduce the amount of added sugar one consumes. It’s a short piece with a link to a longer, more detailed guide by David Leonhardt. There seems to be a fair amount of good scientific evidence that too much added sugar in one’s diet is not healthy. So it’s probably a good idea to take inventory and adjust the diet as needed to keep the added sugar intake at a reasonable level. “Moderation in all things” remains excellent advice.

I felt pretty virtuous after reading these two articles, but the fact is that my wife and I ended up with very little added sugar in our diet without much real effort or hardship. First of all, neither of us has much of a “sweet tooth”. You won’t find candy (OK, a little chocolate), soda, sweet breakfast cereal, pastries, or other sweet stuff in our pantry for the simple reason that we don’t have a taste for it. The other factor working in our favor is that we both for 30 years or more have preferred a diet of mostly whole foods, again because that is what we like.

Much of the sugar in our diet comes from fruit. We try to eat whatever fruit is in season and get most of it from the farmers market. It helps that we don’t buy much in the way of processed food (the stuff from the middle of the grocery store), and I read the nutrition labels obsessively.

That said, it still sneaks up on you, even if you think you are paying attention. There is a tiny amount of added sugar in the Progresso lentil soup we eat occasionally, and in the puttanesca sauce we buy at Bristol Farms, and in Grey Poupon of all things. And then there is the chocolate. We eat a little Green & Black’s 70% cacao dark chocolate several times a week. Our completely and totally unscientific reasoning for this is that “it’s good for us”.


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