sugar cookie‘Tis the Season …for sugar.  We are now full swing into the holiday season and that means lots of sugar ‘n spice.  I thought I’d offer some information on sugar and some small tips for keeping your sugar intake in check this holiday season.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes anywhere from 76 to 100 pounds of sugar per year. That breaks down to the average person eating roughly 3/4 cup or 12 tablespoons of sugar per day.  And about 29% of the sugar we eat comes from baked goods and candy.  (I’m sure that percentage jumps up during the holidays.)

How much sugar should we eat?  Well, the American Heart Association recommends that adult women consume no more than SIX TEASPOONS per day (men can consume up to 9 tsp.).

There are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon. So, the average American woman consumes 36 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is 6x the recommended 6 teaspoons.  (Wow, that’s quite a sweet tooth, America!)

You’re thinking, “Great, but it’s the holidays, Maria!”

I know.  And I don’t want to completely dampen the holiday spirit.  So here are some numbers to help guide you so you are more aware of the amount of sugar in holiday treats and a few tips to reduce the amount of sugar you and your family consume without completely spoiling the fun.

The Numbers

In nutrition data labels, sugar is listed in grams.  4 grams = 1 teaspoon.  So as a guide,

  • 1 holiday frosted sugar cookie has about 18 g or 4.5 tsp. of sugar.
  • 1 Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe has about 6.5g or 1.5 tsp.
  • 9 Hersey’s Chocolate Mint Kisses have 22g or 5.5 tsp.
  • 1.5 oz M&M’s Holiday Mix have 27g or 7tsp.
  • 1 CVS Candy Cane has 8g or 2 tsp.

5 Tips

  1. Make sure you and your family do not attend a holiday party on an empty stomach.  Hunger is much stronger than will power and you’ll likely eat way more treats than intended.
  2. Re-train your sweet tooth.  Reduce the amount of sugar you use in your baked holiday goodies.  For most recipes, I find that if I cut the sugar by half, the dessert still tastes sweet but not overwhelming so.   I recently made a pumpkin Bundt cake that used only 3 tablespoons of honey!  This is versus the 2+ cups of sugar called for in most recipes.  You don’t have to be that drastic but maybe start cutting back a bit and gradually reduce over the year.  You’ll start to notice that some baked goods will be just too sweet for your liking and you’ll eat and crave less.
  3. Use and seek out products that use the best quality “sugar” sources like raw honey, maple syrup, rapadura, (green) stevia powder or liquid, date sugar, molasses, or coconut palm sugar.  (Coconut palm is the easiest to use when replacing white sugar in a recipe.)  These sources actually provide some nutrients along with the sweetness.
  4. Avoid using refined sugars (like white sugar, “raw”, ‘natural’, turbinado, sucanat or Florida Crystals); fructose or high fructose corn syrup; or concentrated fruit juices.  These are empty calories.
  5. Minimize the amount of candies and baked goods in the house.  Even holiday sweets should only be for special occasions, not everyday during the holidays.

Sweet holiday wishes,


P.S.  If you would like more information about reducing your sugar cravings, please contact me here.