That pie may be tempting, but think before you eat

It’s that time of year again – holiday parties, presents, big family dinners and an abundance of decadent, mouth-watering, tempting and potentially unhealthy food.

But holiday indulgence doesn’t have to lead to extra pounds, followed by New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym. Being a smart holiday food consumer and eating in moderation will help avoid excess sugar, which may lead to obesity, or too much sodium, contributing to high blood pressure.

“If too many sugary foods take the place of healthy foods in the diet, then you miss out on getting the nutrition your body needs for optimal health,” says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day, and for men, nine teaspoons. On average, Americans take in about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day currently, much of this coming from added sugars in foods. That sugar can add up quickly. For instance, a can of regular soda has about eight teaspoons of added sugar.

With sodium, the typical American takes in 3,500 to 4,000 milligrams per day. For those who eat most of their meals out, that total could be 6,000 milligrams. Dietary guidelines suggest no more than 2,400 milligrams, the equivalent of one teaspoon, per day.

Consumers can avoid excess sugar and sodium by limiting processed foods, prepared foods and sugar-laden treats such as cakes, cookies and pies. Smart food consumers should also read food labels for sugar and sodium content, making small but significant changes such as buying fruit juice without added sugar.

Visit to learn more about clinical services in nutrition at UT Southwestern.

Media Contact: Debbie Bolles