Holiday Sugar Shock


Almost everyone figures that the holidays are a time to loosen up a bit about what you eat, and there’s nothing wrong with reasonably partaking in some sweets.

Nobody’s going to gain a pant size or develop a cavity because of the occasional holiday indulgence.

However, you might be surprised by how much sugar is in your favorite holidays foods—and how quickly that indulgence becomes gluttony. Consider the sugar content in these holiday staples:

  • 1/8 slice of sweet potato casserole = 10.25 teaspoons (41g)
  • 1 cup of Shamrock Farms eggnog = 9.5 teaspoons (38g)
  • 1 candy cane = 2.75 teaspoons (11g)
  • 2 Nestle Tollhouse gingerbread cookies = 1.75 teaspoons (7g)
  • 16 oz. Starbucks hot chocolate = 10.75 teaspoons (43g)
  • 1 medium-slice of fruit cake = 5 teaspoons (20g)
  • 8 oz. Martinelli’s apple cider = 7.75 teaspoons (31g)
  • 5 oz. glass of Riesling = 3.5 teaspoons (14g)

How much sugar is too much?

It’s important to note that many foods, like fruits and vegetables, have naturally occurring sugars. Modern American diets, however, include foods rich in added sugar. It’s these added sugars that nutritionist recommend avoiding. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that men limit their added sugar consumption to 9 teaspoons a day and women to 6 teaspoons.

Dentists don’t place a limit on sugar consumption, but they do advocate low-sugar diets. This is because high-sugar diets pose a significant threat to your dental health and can contribute to enamel erosion, plaque, cavities, tooth decay and gum disease.

Limiting Your Holiday Sugar Intake

Ashley Koff, a registered dietician for Prevention Magazine, has six tips for avoiding holiday sugar shock. They include reading labels to ensure you’re not eating hidden sources of added sugar (hello, salad dressing and dinner rolls!), exercising and eating foods that will counterbalance sugar intake during the holidays. You can also trade in your sugar-filled item for something a tad healthier. For example, swap that glass of Riesling for a dry wine, such as chardonnay.

Have tips for limiting your sugar consumption during the holidays? Share them in the comments!

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