Meeting The Government’s Recommended Sugar Intake Is Every Bit As Hard As It Sounds

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I am a sugar fiend. This is no secret. Right now, my pantry contains two flavors of Oreos, root beer-flavored off-brand Twizzlers, a half-eaten box of AlohaMacs, a jar of assorted chocolate candies from Whole Foods’ bulk bins, sour watermelon chews, salted caramels leftover from Christmas, and chocolate pandas purchased at an Asian grocery.

Last week, I made Valentine’s Day chocolate my breakfast more days than I’m willing to admit. Buddy the Elf is me.

It’s not like I’m proud of this. I’ve tried to cut back on my sugar intake in the past, but it’s difficult. I get a little bored, get a little hungry, and boom—there I am, standing in front of my pantry, eating stale cookies and wondering about my long term health. On that count, I fall well within the majority of Americans who consume too much added sugar. One estimate has the average intake at just over 100 grams of sugar per day—double the new FDA recommendation, and quadruple the World Health Organization’s most conservative recommendation.

The problem is, overdoing sugar is so easy to do—and it’s not just about drinking soda (although there is that, too). Everything has sugar in it. The bread you turn into toast, the sauce you put on your pasta. Added sugars are sneaky little boogers, made even sneakier by the fact that the food industry refuses to get its act together and make a distinction between added and natural sugars on nutrition labels.

In the interest of all things health, wellness, and unwieldy future medical bills, I decided to test out the WHO conservative sugar recommendation for a week. I wanted to see if it was doable, or if I would turn into a label-reading nutter with a constant sugar-withdrawal headache. So last Saturday, with a full night of sleep acting like the wind at my back, I began my experiment.

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