Reducing Sugar for Better Health

reducing sugar

reducing sugar

AICR recommends limiting sugar including sugary beverages, to prevent gaining extra body fat that can lead to cancer. Here is how one woman cut back on sugar by giving up soda.

FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER JUDY ROLFE was shooting a session at AICR annual meeting two years ago when something she saw stopped her in her tracks.

“The presenter showed a picture of sugar in a plastic bag that was equivalent to the amount of sugar in a can of cola [8 teaspoons],” Rolfe says. “I’m a visual person, so that really caught my attention. I told myself I really needed to stop drinking sugary sodas,” she says.” At the time, she estimates, she drank an average of two sodas a day.

Rolfe says she knew that consuming too much sugar was unhealthy, but she had never seen the scientific data behind the recommendation to cut back.


Sugar-sweetened drinks are the top source of added sugars for most Americans.

One 12-ounce can of regular soda with 150 calories and 41 grams of added sugar can send anyone close to the recommended daily limit on added sugars.

“The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines advisory committee recommends an upper limit of 10 percent of calories coming from added sugar. So for a 2,000-calorie diet, that would be 200 calories of added sugar,” says AICR’s Alice Bender, MS, and RDN.

Rolfe came home from the conference, gave away the sodas in her refrigerator and has not had another one since. She now drinks lot of water, unsweetened iced tea and seltzer water mixed with a little juice.

“It’s hard to find alternatives that don’t have sugar or artificial sweeteners in them,” she says. “It’s not a sugar-free friendly world.”

Giving up sodas wasn’t easy for her. “I went through a bit of a withdrawal, she says. “It went on for six months to a year.” When she felt she needed some sugar, Rolfe had a piece of chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa or chewed some sugar-free gum.

Feeling Better vs. Sodas

Rolfe has been happy with her decision to cut out sodas. She has lost several pounds and feels healthy—a necessity for an on-the-go photographer. She sys, “It’s a life choice I’ll never go back on.”

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