A Teaspoon of Sugar - exactly how many calories?

Hi everyone.

I am still on my quest to reduce sugar in my coffee. I decided to buy some sugar cubes to help with controlling the portion size.

I assumed a sugar cube was 1/2 a teaspoon - certainly tastes like it. But it turns out a cube is 16 calories so the same as 1 teaspoon.

Clearly my teaspoon measurements are well out - I must have been having at least 1.5 teaspoons :(

So now I am on the cubes - not sure how I will approach trying to get to 1/2 a teaspoon but for now at least I can stick with 1 teaspoon only.

Just goes to show how easy it is to get our portions wrong!

Has anyone else discovered any similar issues with portion sizes?


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42 Replies

  • Hi Sueper,

    Mayonnaise was the shocker for me. Even the reduced fat variety is about 50 cals/tblsp and I must have been putting about 300 cals on my nice healthy salad! No wonder my "healthy eating" made me fat :)

  • Yes agree on the mayo and normally the low fat variety has lots of sugar in it!!

  • Me too, I fell foul of that one, lemon juice on prawns instead now ( in my sandwich), surprisingly nut butters I can measure and use as a breakfast food.

    2 teaspoons to one slice of bread, seems fine

  • Hi moreless,

    Mayo is one of my downfalls too. I put loads on my plate but I am eating less of it and throwing lots away. I sometimes swap it for low cal salad cream but sometimes only mayo will do :)

    Why are all the nice things so bad for us :(

  • I think it's all down to sod's law! :)

  • Sueper- did you see the TV programme by Jamie Oliver 'Sugar Rush'? A teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. Recommended amount is 7 tsp per day. Bowl of Bran flakes has 5 tsp. Shocker esp when cereal is heavily marketed towards children.

  • Even more shocking when marketed as healthy and encouraged by the NHS!

  • OMG!! I have just had to get up and check my box of Bran Flakes, not that I doubted what you were saying but I am staggered by how much sugar is in what is marketed as a healthy cereal. Serious re-think required on the breakfast front me thinks. Thank you for the heads up.

  • Cereals are a nightmare - unless you go for something like shredded wheat, which I think is about the only thing like that that doesn't add sugar (but tastes like cardboard as a result !!) Have you tried the Dorset cereal range - there is a no added sugar option (sweetened with dates) or Alpen do a no added sugar version. Or porridge (yum :-) ) !!

  • Hi Lucca10, yes I either have porridge one of the dorset cereal museli or Bran Flakes I can't believe I have never checked the sugar content. No more Bran Flakes will be going in to my shopping trolley!

  • They sound so healthy as well don't they :-) It's a nightmare with kids trying to get a reasonable cereal for them. My little one has a mixture of different breakfasts, but its nice to have a cereal in the house for her - we keep away from the really awful sugar coated ones, but even the half healthy sounding ones are still full of sugar. But will she eat the totally sugar free ones ? Will she heck.. ! :-)

  • I'm just amazed that I have never really noticed the sugar content. I dread to think how high the sugar content is in the sweeter cereals particularly aimed at children, it really shouldn't be allowed without advertising in big letters how much sugar each serving contains.

  • Dead right lucca10; Shredded Wheat and Weetabix don't add sugar, yet they still spike blood sugar faster than table sugar too!

  • I tend to go for porridge or no added sugar muesli. With the porridge I usually add some natural yoghurt or frozen blueberries and cinnamon to make it more interesting, Plus it helps if you have a sweet tooth as blueberries give it natural sweetness.

  • Cereals are so bad especially when you actually weigh out a portion size and then read how much sugar is in it.

    I go for unsweetened stuff now and add sweetener (not perfect but I have a sweet tooth).

    I have found that shop's own weatabix have a lot less sugar than the branded ones :)

  • I recently used to take one and a half teaspoons of sugar. Then I used to say one and a bit which crept up to two teaspoons.

    Since dieting (first time in sixty years) I have exchanged sugar for sweeteners and am slowly weening myself off of those.

    I have a sugar free diet, as well as fat and oil free (within reason), no butter, no fried food etc.

    The main thing that I have noticed, is that, my mouth seems a lot fresher. No more furring up of the tongue, very little plaque in my teeth. My taste buds have also re awakened and I can taste natural sugars in fruit and veg a lot more. This was all quite a surprise to me, which is quite enjoyable. :)

  • Hi Tewson, I was doing the same with the sugar. Once upon a time I tool 3!! Then went down to a 1/4 but started edging back up to 2. So I thought at least with a sugar cube it is a proper measured portion. I was using a 1/2 teaspoon but that was just horrible - probably because my 1 teaspoon was more like 1.5.

    So once the cubes are gone I will more to the measured 1/2 teaspoon and then hopefully nothing - maybe I will crack it by xmas :)

    I am happy having sweetener with cereal but hate it in coffee.

    Well done on your progress so far :)

  • sueper, I know where you're coming from. Coffee without sugar is a little like wine without alcohol, it just doesn't seem to do the trick. :(

    I guess it takes time to ween ourselves off of what has become life sustaining staples.

    I've taken to drinking a little more water during the day but, can't do without my coffee morning and evening. I use a sweetener which is not not as nice. My personal incentive is that it gives me more calories to eat :)

    I think you are doing really well.

  • ....meanwhile in an alternative reality you could go to my mother's house where drowning a lovely fresh fruit salad in sugar "doesn't really make any difference...."

    Still fuming!

    Quite agree - that some things really catch you out - salad dressings top of the list every time - but cheese (my favourite nibble!) is dire - when you see what you get for your calories you just know it's off limits! I'm buying the pre-sliced plasticky stuff so that I can't kid myself that it "was nothing..."!

    I don't have sugar in tea / coffee so have no idea what this stuff tastes like (or what's in it) - but is "Half Spoon" any kind of solution Sueper?

  • Oh please I used to do that with cheese, have digital scales, measure and use ( I had balance ones before that, too inaccurate), nice diet recipes with blue cheese tho, check them out?

  • Hi Runningsoon, I have tried halfspoon and I can still taste the saccharin in hot drinks - it is fine for having with cereal though :)

    I now use a cheese slice (the thin side) when I have cheese but I have drastically reduced my cheese intake - no more thick grilled cheese on a pasta bake :(

  • I find full-fat cheese satisfying; I have about a tenth of the supermarket 800g block most days :-)

  • I gave sugar in drinks up as preparation for going to university, decades ago. I did it whilst on holiday and at the end of the fortnight, job done.

  • I swapped sugar for sweeteners back in the 70's, when everyone was on strike and there was no sugar in the shops :)

    When I was pregnant, the taste of the sweeteners made me feel sick, so I was able to ditch them too :)

  • Well GoogleMe! 2 weeks to give up sugar - oh I wish. I am setting myself a flexible target of xmas - we'll see. Would be nice to finally kick it, then I'd have an extra few calories to play with :)

  • General point. It is difficult and can be confusing. TV is full of comparisons at the moment - even a program about reducing shopping bills talks about nutrition. Some "cheap" breakfast cereals are 50% sugar! Sometimes you're on a loser before you start. I use a no added salt or sugar muesli. It's lower in some things than the healthy living variety. STILL HAS SUGAR though - in the raisins and more.

    You have to read each label. I don't know about you guys but I get information overload from time to time.

  • I tend to be a toast, and egg woman in the mornings, hate cereal, protein always fills you up! So eggs or nut butter on toast, job sorted.

  • I agree, it seems like the more you learn, the less you know.

  • Oil is mine, I used to cook every meal with lots of olive oil, which is healthy but very calorie-laden, so I had to adapt my methods a lot. I switched to frylight for a while, but I want to be able to have nice oil in my food sometimes, especially now I'm maintaining, I can't be a frylight person forever.

    These days I don't just pour it out of the bottle, I use a spoon instead. I also mix it in rather than pour it on. e.g. for roast veg, all the chopped veg go in a big bowl, then I add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1tbsp rapeseed oil, add salt and herbs if I fancy it too, stir it all together so everything's coated then scatter on a big baking try. This does enough veg for 4 decent size portions (65cals of oil per portion) and everything gets deliciously roasted. I got this tip from an Ottolenghi recipe.

    Another tip is to get a really good frying pan (obvious, I know, but I'm not made of money and didn't do this for ages!) My old frying pan was rubbish for frying in very little oil or with frylight, everything would stick. Since I got my good tefal frying pan I can just wipe a smidgen of oil across it (1 tsp of oil poured on then semi-wiped away with kitchen roll = 20cals) and then fry an egg, pancake, etc.

  • I use the Filip bolero spray, I switched from fry light, due to thickeners, I thinking spray oils are so much easier, and handy for such things as roast potatoes!

    As the saying goes it's the little things that matter, so very true in calorie terms, all adds up

  • I do still use frylight for some things as it's so handy, but yes I also wonder what's in it. That's good to know there's an alternative brand that's a bit more 'pure', but to be honest I've found good cooking techniques can allow me to use very little oil too. I treat myself to good quality extra virgin olive oil now, mixed with rapeseed oil to help with smoke point issues (although I haven't entirely got my head round all that yet!) The main thing is I'm not just mindlessly filling my food with stuff I don't understand or measure anymore.

  • Fry light has emulsifying agents in it, it's highly advertised too, as being the 1 cal spray, I would suspect a misting of olive oil is not much more.

    Bought Aldi's premium olive oil, good reviews, I use it sometimes too, and a great price

  • According to google, a spray of olive oil is 7 cals, bit less than a teaspoon at 35 cals

  • Rapeseed oil has less saturated fat than olive oil and tolerates high heat better

  • So does diesel, and I don't fancy that either :-D

  • Yeah, one of those programs came out against olive and pro rapeseed for other health reasons :O

  • I know, cooking with any oil, seems to have some negatives

  • I sometimes fry with water - great for softening onions :)

  • I also sometimes add a little water to frying onions, to stop them drying out, but tend to start them with oil first (even just frylight).

  • Hi Ruth, it is amazing how just a bit more thought can save so many calories :)

    I sometimes mix frylight with a bit of butter (now we are allowed to eat butter again!) especially if I am making an omelette.

    I haven't tried rapeseed oil - I'll give that a try too :)

  • Low fat usually means high sugar Always read the labels etc. plus the fact it is moderation in all things most of the time - allowing yourself the occasional treat?

  • Spot on - with the emphasis on "occasional"

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