What a Perfect Day of Sugar Looks Like

If you're not careful, you can easily consume your entire day's worth of sugar in just a few bites of pastry or gulps of soda. Here's how to stay under your sugar limit and still enjoy three delicious meals, two snacks, and a dessert.

Sugar is everywhere, and it's sneaky. There's sugar in your favorite drinks, yogurt, and even granola. Sugar intake has become such a big problem that, for the first time ever, the updated U.S. dietary guidelines include a cap on how much added sugar we should consume every day. And keeping it below that line (and preventing all kinds of major health problems, including heart disease and diabetes) can be a challenge.

The goal? No more than 12 teaspoons (or about 50 grams) of added sugars per day. Note that this is about added or "free" sugars, not naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables, which groups like the World Health Organization (WHO) say are less of a health issue. But how are we supposed to tell the difference between added and natural sugars? Luckily, newly designed nutrition labels will be a huge help: Added sugars will be separated from the total sugar count, so it will be much easier to spot foods packed with the sweet stuff.

To give you a better idea of what 50 grams of total sugar in a day look like, we pulled together a full-on feast that is 100-percent nom-worthy.

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Breakfast: Scrambled Egg Burrito

Kick off your day with a loaded breakfast burrito.

  • 2 tsp. olive oil: 0 g sugar
  • 2 c. chopped broccoli: 3 g
  • 2 large eggs: 1.6 g
  • ½ c. drained black beans: 2 g
  • 1 (10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas: 2 g, depending on the brand
  • ½ c. grated cheddar cheese: .3 g
  • ¼ c. cilantro leaves: 0 g

TOTAL SUGARS: 8.9 g

(157 cal, 11 g total fat, 368 mg sodium, 13 g carb, 17 g protein)

Snack: Apple and Peanut Butter

For your mid-morning snack, gobble up some apples dipped in peanut or almond butter.

  • 1 apple: 15 g sugar
  • 2 tbsp. peanut or almond butter: 3 g

TOTAL SUGARS: 18 g

(266 calories, 16.3 g total fat, 6 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrates, 8.4 g protein)

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Lunch: Kale Salad With Chicken

For lunch, try a delicious and filling kale and chicken salad.

  • 1 handful kale: 0 g sugar
  • 1/4 c. chopped cabbage: 0.7 g
  • 2 tbsp. diced cucumber: 0.2 g
  • 2 tbsp. diced tomato: 1 g
  • 2 tbsp. chopped snap peas: 1 g
  • 1 tbsp. packed cilantro: 0 g
  • 1 (4 oz.) cooked and diced boneless chicken breast: 0 g

For the dressing, combine the following:

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil: 0 g
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar: 0.2 g
  • dash of salt and pepper: 0 g

TOTAL SUGARS: 3.1 g

(Salad: 352 cal, 15 g total fat, 339 mg sodium, 13 g carb, 41 g protein; Dressing: 132 cal, 11 g total fat, 235 mg sodium, 7 g carb, 4 g protein)

Snack: Celery and Hummus

Snack time again! This crunchy treat is more than satisfying.

  • 5 celery stalks: 1.5 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp. hummus: 0 g

TOTAL SUGARS: 1.5 g

(40 calories, 1.6 g total fat, 127 mg sodium, 4.6 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein)

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Dinner: Salmon With Mango and Lime Salsa

Ready for dinner? This salmon with mango and lime salsa recipe is full of flavor and omega-3s.

  • 1 (6-oz.) skinless salmon fillet: 0 g sugar
  • salt and pepper: 0 g
  • 1 tsp. olive oil: 0 g

For the salsa, combine the following:

  • 1/4 cup diced mango: 6 g
  • 1/4 c. diced red bell pepper: 1 g
  • zest and juice of 1 lime: 1 g
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro: 0 g
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions: 0.1 g
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha: 1 g
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt: 0 g

TOTAL SUGARS: 9.1 g

(379 calories, 24 g total fat, 102 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrates, 34 g protein)

Dessert: Chocolate Mug Cake

You didn't think we'd skimp on dessert, did you? There's plenty of room for a sweet treat in a sugar-sensible day, too. Especially something chocolatey, like this mug cake.

  • 2 scoops (about ½ cup) chocolate whey-protein powder: 3 g sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for dusting; optional): 0 g
  • 1/2 tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips: 2 g
  • 2 large eggs: .4 g
  • 1/4 c. applesauce (no sugar added): 4 g
  • vegetable oil cooking spray: 0 g

TOTAL SUGARS: 9.4 g

(131 calories, 6 g total fat, 94 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrates, 13 g protein)

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And the Grand Total Is...

See? You really can have a filling breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus two snacks and dessert, for a grand total of exactly 50 grams of sugar. Sweet!

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