Diane May Nutrition Blog

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What Is Added Sugar?

May 7th, 2018

Many people use the term added sugar, but few know what it means. The FDA defines added sugar as “Sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and includes sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.”  I am always asked how much sugar can I have in a day? The actual answer is none. Sugar is not a nutrient and therefor, there are no formal guidelines and it is not a necessity. WHO (the World Health Organization) and the American Heart Association have stated that women should not have more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day-the equivalent would be 2 glasses of juice and men should have no more than nine teaspoons. Why should we care about added sugar? Because it increases our risk of diabetes, weight gain/obesity, heart disease, hypertension and it is inflammatory in our bodies. Simple sugars, a carbohydrate, are called monosaccharides: glucose, fructose and galactose. These are naturally occurring sugars. The white sugar we are used to is sucrose and is 9 calories per small cube.  Below are some examples of where we find the most added sugar in foods:

  • Ketchup/tomato sauce: 1.5 teaspoons in a 1 ounce serving for ketchup, a third of a jar of tomato sauce can contain as much as 3-4 teaspoons
  • Candy bars: The average candy bar contains 7 teaspoons
  • Soda: The average serving of soda contains 9 teaspoons 
  • Cereals: Raisin bran has 6 teaspoons and frosted flakes has 7 teaspoons

Also, added ingredients such as these are just a few (there are over 200 names) of the other forms of added sugars:

  • agave syrup.
  • brown sugar.
  • cane juice and cane syrup.
  • confectioners’ sugar.
  • corn sweetener and corn syrup.
  • dextrose.
  • fructose.
  • fruit juice concentrates and syrups
  • HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)

The best thing to do is to avoid processed foods and sweets as much as possible and to become a savvy label reader. As of now, it is not mandatory for manufacturers to put added sugar on a separate line on a label, but that day is coming. Until then, try and keep your sugar to 5 grams or under in a processed food. When you read a label, ingredients are listed from what they have the most of to the least of.  If sugar is one of the first ingredients, that means there probably is a lot of sugar in that product-compare and find a similar product with less sugar. For example, switch from Raisin Bran to Cheerios- a huge difference in sugar content.

So, what do you do when you want something sweet? Always head for fruit. I recommend no more than two servings of fruit a day. Fruit is NOT free! Eating frozen fruit can also be very satisfying and is a cool treat in the summer.  Look for lower sugar fruits and those that are high in soluble fiber such as berries, apples, pears, clementines and kiwis. The recipe below does have added sugar, which comes from dairy. Be a detective and always pay attention to ingredients and labels!

Ricotta & Yogurt Parfait

From: EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2016

Recipe By:  Sara Haas,

“Reminiscent of a lemon cheesecake, this healthy breakfast recipe is easy to throw together in the morning. Or stir together the filling in a jar the night before and top with the fruit, nuts and seeds when you get to work.”


    • ¾ cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
    • ¼ cup part-skim ricotta
    • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
    • ¼ cup raspberries
    • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
    • 1 teaspoon chia seeds


  • 1Combine yogurt, ricotta and lemon zest in a bowl. Top with raspberries, almonds and chia seeds.

Nutrition information


  • Serving size: about 1¼ cups
  • Per serving: 258 calories; 10 g fat(3 g sat); 4 g fiber; 21 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 19 mcg folate; 19 mg cholesterol; 13 g sugars; 6 g added sugars; 251 IU vitamin A; 9 mg vitamin C; 385 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 125 mg sodium; 398 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (38% daily value)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 1½

How To Take Care Of Your Colorectal Health

April 15th, 2018

April is colorectal health month.  Most people do not like to think about colorectal health, but it is important to pay attention to both preventative and active measures we can take to keep our colons healthy.  Colon cancer is one of the most curable cancers if caught early, but the third deadliest and most aggressive if not caught in time. 50-75% of colorectal cancer can be prevented through lifestyle and behavior modification. So below are things you can do to reduce your risks of cancer and have a healthy colon:

  • Get a regular Colonoscopy- It is recommended that people get screened starting at age 50.  African Americans have the highest incidence of colon cancer. If you have a family history, you should talk to your physician about screening at an earlier age and consider genetic testing as well. The worst part about a colonoscopy is the prep, but regular screening can save your life.
  • Maintain a healthy weight-There has been a direct correlation between colorectal cancer and weight.  Waist circumference is important here, as weight around the mid section puts you at greater risk.  Men should not have a waist circumference above 40 inches and women should not be above 35 inches.
  • Make sure you make time for exercise-Daily moderate exercise can reduce your risk but some newer studies have shown that a few days a week of vigorous exercise can significantly reduce your risk. Find the time and make exercise a priority in your life.
  • Increase fiber-Women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine. Most Americans consume only 15 grams a day. Increase both soluble-berries, apples, oats, and citrus and insoluble fiber-cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and cauliflower, beans and grains.
  • Reduce red meat and processed meat consumption-I recommend red meat no more than 1 times per week. There has also been a correlation between nitrates and cancer.  If someone has a high genetic risk, I say avoid it. fish, poultry and plant proteins are healthier and better digested in the colon.
  • Increase plant consumption-The more plants you consume, the healthier your colon (and the rest of your body) will be.  Try and eat a variety-remember to consume the rainbow.
  • Limit alcohol consumption-Men should have no more than two drinks a day and women should have no more than one.  If you have  a strong family history of colon cancer or even polyps, I would eliminate alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke…..Everyone knows the reasons why, but it also impacts risk of colon cancer!
  • Slow down when you eat-Give your body a chance to digest nutrients and break food down. Chew 20-30 times with each bite.  Try putting down your silverware between bites, use your non dominant hand or try chopsticks. Also, have a cut off time for eating-2-3 hours before bed to give your body a chance to digest before you start the restorative process of sleep.
  • Reduce added sugars and processed foods-the more whole and natural you eat, the healthier your digestive system will be.
  • Make sure you stay well hydrated, with water! The goal is 6-8, eight ounce glasses daily. It helps to keep your GI system clean.
  • Have pre and probiotics in your daily routine. I always recommend patients take a probiotic such as Culturelle, but there are many probiotics on the market, and depending on your GI/health concerns or issues you might want to try others.  I also recommend prebiotic foods such as garlic, artichokes, whole grains and onions to keep your colon happy.
  • There are supplements and medications that are showing promise in reducing risks, but they also can be contraindicated in some people.  I recommend always talking to your physician or RD before starting a supplemental/pharmaceutical protocol for colon health. 

If you have a change in bowel habits-either constipation or diarrhea, a change in color of your bowel movements or you notice blood or stool that looks like coffee grinds, sudden anemia, pain in your belly, a drop in weight or vomiting, don’t wait or hesitate to consult with your physician. This does not mean you have colon cancer, but you should be evaluated. Early detection is the key.  Polyps can take 10-15 years to develop into colorectal cancer, but if removed, eliminate your risks. Although it can be embarrassing to discuss bowel habits and GI symptoms, it can save your life, so speak up!

Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo Salad

  • Prep   40 m
  • Ready In 40 m

Recipe By: Carolyn Casner-Eating Well


    • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (8 ounces each), halved
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
    • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
    • ¾ cup whole-wheat orzo
    • 2 cups thinly sliced baby spinach
    • 1 cup chopped cucumber
    • 1 cup chopped tomato
    • ¼ cup chopped red onion
    • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
    • 2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 clove garlic, grated
    • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Brush chicken with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165°F, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a quart of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add orzo and cook for 8 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 1 minute more. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Add cucumber, tomato, onion, feta and olives. Stir to combine.
  • Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and the remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir all but 1 tablespoon of the dressing into the orzo mixture. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the chicken and serve with the salad.


Nutrition information

Serving size: ½ chicken breast & 1 cup orzo salad

  • Per serving: 402 calories; 7 g fat(4 g sat); 6 g fiber; 28 g carbohydrates; 32 g protein; 52 mcg folate; 91 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 1,744 IU vitamin A; 16 mg vitamin C; 84 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 513 mg sodium; 646 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (35% daily value), Vitamin C (27% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2
  • Exchanges: 3½ lean protein, 2½ fat, 1½ starch, 1 vegetable