Woman holding a donut

Hooked on sweets?

APR 07, 2015
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If you’re hooked on sugar and artificial sweeteners, then you’ve got plenty of company. But we have a challenge for you.


First the facts: The average American consumes a lot of sugar. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that on average, females consume 106 grams (26.5 teaspoons) of sugar every day, and males consume 135 grams (33.75 teaspoons). That’s greater than 4 times as much sugar as what the American Heart Association recommends, which is no more than 24 grams (6 teaspoons) daily for women and no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men.


Consuming a lot of sugar is not good for our waistlines or our health. Additionally, our increased consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners (which can be as much as 13,000 times sweeter than sugar) may be increasing our desire for sweet foods.


Now for the challenge: If you cut added sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet for 2 weeks, you can actually “reset” your palate so that foods taste sweeter and your craving for sugar decreases. This will make it easier to eat less sugar moving forward, and can help you in your quest to maintain or lose weight.

Are you ready to give it a try?


The Sugar and Artificial Sweetener Challenge

For 2 weeks, cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

  1. Don’t add sugar or artificial sweetener to any food or drinks (see list below).
  2. Avoid all sugar or artificially sweetened drinks including sodas, bottled teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks and juice (even 100% juice), specialty coffee drinks.
  3. Cut out any foods that have a lot of added sugar or artificial sweetener such as cookies, cake, candy, yogurt, soy or almond milk, breakfast cereals, or energy bars.
  4. Limit dried fruits to 2 servings per day. Plain unsweetened milk, yogurt, and fresh fruit contain natural sugar, which is fine.
  5. Read food and drink labels. Aim for foods with 5 grams or less of added sugar in the items you consume. Look at the ingredient list for other names for sugar and artificial sweeteners such as:


  • Sucrose
  • Honey
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Agave
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Barley malt
  • Cane sugar
  • Grape sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Date sugar

Artificial sweeteners

  • Sweet and Low
  • Equal
  • Splenda
  • Monk Fruit
  • Neotame
  • Stevia

What can you eat instead?” Real food. Check out these sample menus:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk with walnuts and blueberries
  • Lunch: Lentil soup, salad (veggies dressed with a little oil and vinegar), and strawberries
  • Dinner: Salmon or beans with vegetables, quinoa, and a banana

What should you drink? Sparkling mineral water, unsweetened teas, or essence waters. You can also infuse water with your favorite flavors at home by adding lemon, mint, or other herbs and fruits to water.


Reviewed by: Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD, February, 2015

© 2015 Kaiser Permanente

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