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Tracking Sugar

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Once upon a time, I used to use SparkPeople.com instead of MFP. I will go and check out their articles and message boards from time to time. I've seen lost of people on the MFP message boards questioning why they are always going over on their sugar intake according to MFP. I believe that the MFP amounts are most likely based on the AMA's recommendation of ADDED sugar, not all sugar. I saw this question below posted. While the question has nothing to do with MFP, I thought their explanation might help a few people understand a bit more about sugar and why they are always in the red on MFP.
Q. Why can't I track sugar on my SparkPeople nutrition tracker?


A. While you can add a large variety of vitamins and nutrients to your SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker (click here to learn how), sugars is not one of them. There are several reasons why you can't track sugars.

First, sugars are a newer addition to nutrition labels. Like fiber, you'll find sugars listed underneath carbohydrates on the nutrition facts label, but sugars are not required to be listed on all food labels. Only products that make a claim about sugar or sugar alcohols on their package (such as "sugar free" or "reduced sugar") must list the sugar content (in grams) on the nutrition facts label. Foods and products that contain sugars but do not make any sugar-related claims do NOT have to list sugars on their label. Because of this, it is impossible to get an accurate picture of what you're really eating.

In addition, SparkPeople's nutrition experts do not recommend tracking this particular nutrient because it is misleading. Most carbohydrate-containing foods contain sugar. But the sugars listed on a nutrition facts label are NOT added sugars, as one might think. For example, fruit naturally contains the sugar fructose. Milk and other dairy products naturally contain lactose, which contributes 12 grams of sugar per cup of milk. None of this is added sugar, yet it is treated the same way on a nutrition facts label as table sugar or corn syrup.

If you are concerned about your total sugar intake, Registered Dietitian Becky Hand usually suggests that you track total carbohydrates and keep those in a healthy level, as indicated by your nutrition plan. And everyone should make a conscious effort to limit sweets, candy, pie, cookies, syrup, jams, soda and other refined sugars.

Replies

  • Mindful_Trent
    Mindful_Trent Posts: 3,954 Member
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    Thanks for posting this! I actually stopped tracking my sugar here awhile ago for this very reason - it's important to differentiate between natural and added sugars. I've found if I eat the recommended servings of fruit per day, I almost always went over on sugar according to MFP - so their tracking for this particular item isn't all that useful. I eat a balanced diet and limit processed foods (especially sugar-heavy ones like candy, etc.), and I always read labels and ingredients to try and buy foods with as little added sugar as possible... so I know on most days my sugar intake should be just fine.
  • 34at35
    34at35 Posts: 318
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    Thanks for posting this! I actually stopped tracking my sugar here awhile ago for this very reason - it's important to differentiate between natural and added sugars. I've found if I eat the recommended servings of fruit per day, I almost always went over on sugar according to MFP - so their tracking for this particular item isn't all that useful. I eat a balanced diet and limit processed foods (especially sugar-heavy ones like candy, etc.), and I always read labels and ingredients to try and buy foods with as little added sugar as possible... so I know on most days my sugar intake should be just fine.

    I do the same. I try to make sure I eat fruit every day and thus do not track my sugars because you can't dfferentiate between added (processed) sugars and natural sugars found in fruits, milk, etc on MFP. I once submitted a suggetion to split these into separate categories, but that has not happened to the MFP nutrients or foods in the database.
  • CrystalT
    CrystalT Posts: 862 Member
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    I do the same. I try to make sure I eat fruit every day and thus do not track my sugars because you can't dfferentiate between added (processed) sugars and natural sugars found in fruits, milk, etc on MFP. I once submitted a suggetion to split these into separate categories, but that has not happened to the MFP nutrients or foods in the database.

    It would be hard for them to split it because of how the nutrition labels work. There is no way to differentiate natural sugars from added sugars. For example, if you bought regular apple sauce (not the no sugar added stuff) you would have sugars from both the apple and either cane sugar or corn syrup. The label would clump them all together. How would MFP have a way to separate them? I think the change needs to occur on our food labels before we can expect MFP to change.
  • fitinyoga14
    fitinyoga14 Posts: 448 Member
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    i have been tracking my sugar on mfp for a while now and i just can't seem to figure it out! it says i went over on sugar by like 56 grams today. really? i ate some grapes and poof! my allowance was gone. i think i'm going to take your advice and take sugar off my tracker and pay more attention to my carbs.
  • 34at35
    34at35 Posts: 318
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    I do the same. I try to make sure I eat fruit every day and thus do not track my sugars because you can't dfferentiate between added (processed) sugars and natural sugars found in fruits, milk, etc on MFP. I once submitted a suggetion to split these into separate categories, but that has not happened to the MFP nutrients or foods in the database.

    It would be hard for them to split it because of how the nutrition labels work. There is no way to differentiate natural sugars from added sugars. For example, if you bought regular apple sauce (not the no sugar added stuff) you would have sugars from both the apple and either cane sugar or corn syrup. The label would clump them all together. How would MFP have a way to separate them? I think the change needs to occur on our food labels before we can expect MFP to change.

    I recognize that it wouldn't be easy for processed fruit items, but for raw whole fruits, I would at least like to have another nutrition category called "natural sugars" where the raw fruit sugars would go instead of the current overall category of "sugars" where they get added in now. That way the raw whole fruit I eat daily wouldn't make it look like my diet is heavily sugar-laden in the bar charts we look at when discussing my nutrition at my monthly doctor appointment. What I'm asking for is just another category like Saturated Fats and Total Fats have in MFP. My doctor is much more interested in my saturated fats numbers than he is in my total fats. I'd even be satisfied if all sugars in processed foods like applesauce was allocated to the current Sugars category just as long as the natural sugars in whole, unprocessed, raw fruits like oranges, apples, grapes, pears, etc. was allocated to the Natural Sugars nutrient category.
  • KaeChelle
    KaeChelle Posts: 576
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    Thanks for sharing! I thought I was just eating way too much sugar! Well, I'm new here and still working on adjusting my eating habits, so I have still eaten some sugar I shouldn't. However, the explanation about the sugar in milk, fruits, etc. is good to know! I like milk and noticed only one cup is about 1/3 of my sugar allowance, and that was discouraging, so thanks for the info!
  • mfpchar
    mfpchar Posts: 29
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    Excellent info! I was completely at a loss as to why it made no sense that I couldn't have more than 2 pieces of fruit for breakfast and go over my sugar intake before my day was up and running
  • nakrya
    nakrya Posts: 191
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    I don't track sugar. I love fruits and eat a good 2-3 servings everyday. It's not hard to differentiate if you read the ingredients.
  • browneyesbb89
    browneyesbb89 Posts: 141 Member
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    This is so helpful. I think I will be taking my sugar off also. I go over every day no matter what. I eat an apple every day for breakfast but was shocked when it took almost have of my allotted sugar. But I do keep my carbs in check so I think it will be okay.
  • sherm1947
    sherm1947 Posts: 3 Member
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    Is it possible to modify the nutrients in My Fitness Pal's food diary and delete natural sugar from the food you want (because you know the sugar in that food is natural, like with fruit)?
  • RodaRose
    RodaRose Posts: 9,562 Member
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    Your body has to process the sugar whether it comes from fruit or from other sources. In other words, sugar is sugar.
  • BombshellPhoenix
    BombshellPhoenix Posts: 1,693 Member
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    RodaRose wrote: »
    Your body has to process the sugar whether it comes from fruit or from other sources. In other words, sugar is sugar.

    ^this

    I don't even track sugar, I track fiber in its place because I don't have a medical condition that requires me to monitor it and...I like sugar. I get my required nutrients. Sugar is sugar. /shrugs
  • sherm1947
    sherm1947 Posts: 3 Member
    edited October 2014
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    About natural vs added sugar: How about MFP creating a Natural Sugar list of foods where the nutritional content deletes the sugar (since it's natural sugar)?
  • BombshellPhoenix
    BombshellPhoenix Posts: 1,693 Member
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    sherm1947 wrote: »
    About natural vs added sugar: How about MFP creating a Natural Sugar list of foods where the nutritional content deletes the sugar (since it's natural sugar)?

    Or you could just not worry your pretty little head about them.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,136 Member
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    RodaRose wrote: »
    Your body has to process the sugar whether it comes from fruit or from other sources. In other words, sugar is sugar.

    ^this

    I don't even track sugar, I track fiber in its place because I don't have a medical condition that requires me to monitor it and...I like sugar. I get my required nutrients. Sugar is sugar. /shrugs

    +2