It’s a hot topic and has been for decades. Sugar is equally confusing as well. The word “sugar” conjures up negative feelings for most people…..
“Sugar is something we get too much of”. “We should be consuming less sugar” “Sugar is the devil in disguise”. “Sugar is as addictive as cocaine” [it isn’t BTW].
To make matters more confusing are the recommendations on sugar consumption by various health authorities and I get it, they can be muddy at best. Health Canada is moving to revamp the Nutrition Facts Table to help Canadians understand the sugar(s) content of their food. The food industry has until 2022 to meet the new regulations but you may have seen some of the new labels already on certain food products.
100 g and sugar’s new % Daily Value. What the what?
In the past, Nutrition Facts Tables only listed the total amount of sugar(s) in a serving. There was no % Daily Value (%DV) like there is for other nutrients such as fiber, sodium or calcium etc. The %DV is a guide to understand how much of a nutrient is present in a serving of a packaged food compared to a reference. The %DV is not an absolute, it’s not something to “hang our hat on”, it’s not a hard number in that sense. The %DV helps you understand how much of a nutrient you’re going to get and it also allows you to compare products.
Check out the new label here to get a sense of the upcoming changes:
So what is this new reference for sugar(s) all about?
The new %DV for the amount of total sugars is a based on 100 grams which includes both added sugars and naturally occurring sugars. Health Canada is not recommending 100 g as the recommended level of intake. Instead its the amount of total sugars that is consistent with a healthy eating pattern.
PRO TIP: 100 g is based on a 2000 calorie reference diet. This is nothing more than a guide to help people plan healthy eating. Some people will need less than 2000 calories per day while other’s will need a lot more. The amount of TOTAL sugars (g) consumed therefore will also vary and that’s OK.
Those needing less than 2000 calories will consume fewer sugars than the reference 100 g and those who need more energy will consume more. Another way to look at it, is as a percentage of total calories; a healthy eating pattern will proportionately provide about 20% of its calories from sugars.
Everybody take a deeeeeep breath – No need to panic!
Enough already, what does a 100 g look like in real food?
Just before I get into that and share my experience with the Sweet Spot Challenge, I just need to review some basics about sugar. Sugar(s) are nothing more than a type of carbohydrate in food. Sugars are naturally found in fruit, fruit juice, vegetables, milk and yogurt. Sugars are also refined from foods, such sugar beets or sugar cane mostly, and added during food preparation for a variety of reasons – see more here.
Total sugars in your diet therefore includes both naturally occurring sugars, as well as sugars, that are added to foods.
Enter the Sweet Spot Challenge! My goal for the challenge was to create a sample one-day meal plan based using the 2000 calorie and 100 g sugar reference diet to show what a healthy diet could look like. You might be surprised.
I chose a ‘Whole Foods Lover” model to create 3 meals and 3 snacks from scratch. This meal plan includes both added and naturally occurring sugars. Using the Canadian Nutrient File, this meal plan has about 2030 calories and 95 g of total sugars.
Breakfast: Lemon Zinger Smoothie: 21 g sugar
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 1 medium banana (frozen)
- 1 cup frozen cauliflower
- 2 Tbsp lite coconut milk
- 1/4 cup whey protein
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond beverage
Morning snack: Toasted Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds: 6 g sugar
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
Lunch: Baked Salmon Fillet with Roasted Vegetables & Coconut Lime Quinoa: 28 g sugar
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 5 oz salmon fillet
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 medium yellow bell pepper (sliced)
- 1 cup broccoli (chopped into small pieces)
- 1/4 cup red onion (largely diced)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 medium orange (zested and juiced)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup quinoa
- 1/4 lime (zested and juiced)
- 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
Afternoon snack: Crackers & Hummus: 0 g sugar
- 10 whole grain crackers
- 1/4 cup hummus
Dinner: Skillet Spicy Sweet Potato, Chicken & Kale: 6 g sugar
- 1/2 medium sweet potato
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1/4 white onion (diced)
- 1/4 lb ground turkey
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cups kale leaves (finely chopped)
Evening snack: Banana: 35 g sugar
- 1 extra large banana
- 4 dried figs
Other nutrients of interest: Carbohydrate: 243 g, Fiber: 37 g, Fat: 74 g, Saturated Fat: 22 g, Protein: 96 g and Sodium: 3200 mg
Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post by the Registered Dietitians at the Canadian Sugar Institute and I have been compensated monetarily and with groceries for this post. The meal plan, ingredients, and opinions/post are my own.