steer clear of added sugarSunday morning I met a few girlfriends for brunch. We have a standing date, every six weeks, to catch up and enjoy some good food. Six weeks may sounds like a long stretch, but throw work, kids and travel into the mix and those six weeks fly by. Our restaurant of choice, called Fork, was really good.  None of us had been there before and we all ordered something different. I probably ate more than I should have, but hey, I’ve never had chilaquiles before and certainly don’t see my girlies as often as I’d like. All the extra bites I gladly devoured went into my “discretionary calorie” fund for the day.

Calories remaining in your diet, not including the meal essentials are discretionary. Let’s say you’ve planned out a perfectly healthy meal plan that takes you from one end of the day to the other. The snacks, or calories you decide to tack on because you need or want more to eat are discretionary.  Sodas, candy, crackers and all those other filler foods fall into this category. If you’re a healthy eat, these discretionary foods could be fruits, vegetables, low fat cheese, nuts or whole grain snacks.

As it turns out, those added calories – and where you get them – can really make a difference in your overall health.  A recent study released by the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that people consume no more than half of their discretionary calories from added sugar. The AHA recommends women consumer no more than 100 calories from added sugar, and men consume no more than 150 calories from added sugar on a daily basis.1

Where can you find added sugar in foods?
Nearly everything that is processed and contains carbohydrates has sugar added to it. Here is a quick list I put together for reference below:

Product Sugar in Calories
StarbucksTM White Chocolate Mocha* (tall, nonfat) 164
Coke Classic (12 oz) 156
Marshmallow Peeps (5) 144
Frozen Yogurt* (vanilla, 1 c) 136
M & M’s® (milk chocolate) 108
Dannon® Fruit on the Bottom* (Strawberry) 104
Orange Juice (8 oz) 88
Plain Low Fat Yogurt w/ cinnamon (6oz) 44
Low Fat Cottage Cheese* 16

*Milk products contain some naturally occurring sugars that are not added.

It’s true that fruits and vegetables also contain sugar. That said, because the sugar they contain is naturally occurring, and the foods themselves are loaded with vitamins and minerals, it’s not a food group most healthy people should avoid.

Be aware of the foods that you’re choosing – particularly “diet,” “low fat,” and “fat free” processed foods. They often contain oodles of added sugar.



1) American Heart Association (2011, March 25). Not so sweet: Increased added sugars intake parallels trends in weight gain. ScienceDaily.