We know that we should limit the amount of sugar we eat, but sometimes it can be hard to tell just how much sugar is in food. Food labels can be confusing and often lead us to believe a food is healthy when it’s actually packed full of sugar. Even ‘no added sugar’ products can contain a lot of naturally occurring sugars. Here is a simple guide to understanding nutrition labelling and working out exactly how much sugar is in your food…
Check the ‘nutrition information’ on the back of the label. If the food doesn’t have a label then look it up on the Nutrition Data website.
Find the ‘carbohydrates of which sugars’ row and find out how much sugar your food contains per 100g. The NHS states that anything over 22.5g of sugars per 100g is a high sugar food (in my opinion this is very high). Anything under 5g per 100g is low. Knowing this will help you see at a glance if a food is high in sugar.
To work out more specifically how much sugar you are consuming, you’ll need to know how much of the food you are eating. Don’t be fooled by how much the label says is a serving. Often what you might consume in one sitting is much more than the label states as a serving!
Once you know the quantity of the food you’re eating you can work out how much sugar is in your serving. Take the amount of sugar per 100g and multiply by the amount you’re consuming. For example, if you’re eating 200g of the food, multiply the amount of sugar in 100g by 2. If you’re eating 50g, multiply by 0.5.
I am not suggesting that you weigh everything you eat. Often you can simply look at how many grams are in the whole packet and make an educated guess based on what proportion of the packet you’re eating. You can always weigh odd items of food to get a better idea of what things weigh which will make it easier to guess food weights in future.
Once you know how many grams, divide by four to give the amount in teaspoons. This makes it much more real! World Health Organisation guidelines recommend that daily intake of free sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake (approximately 12 teaspoons). A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.
A CASE IN POINT
- 100g Mars Bar contains 57g sugar (so you already know this is double the amount that’s considered ‘high’ by the NHS!)
- A Mars Bar is 53g
- Assuming you’re eating the whole bar, multiply 57 by 0.53 to give 30.21g
- Divided by 4 to figure out how much this is in teaspoons = 7.55.
- Now you know that your Mars Bar contains seven and a half teaspoons of sugar.
Walk away from the Mars Bar!!!