Limit Sugar for Good Health

Sugar lurks everywhere, even in that innocent orange.Welcome back Certified Nutrition Consultant, and Autism Diet Specialist, Julie Matthews! Today Julie is here to share her thoughts on sugar. 

Julie Matthews | Guest Post 4
Limit Sugar for Good Health 

Most nutritionists recommend avoiding sugar in the diet—and applying this basic notion to autism makes sense. Not only is excessive sugar a problem in conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, sugar affects many of the systems frequently weak in autism, therefore negatively affecting symptoms and biochemistry for people with autism.

Sugar—Especially Problematic for Children with Autism

Sugar depresses the immune system and contributes to inflammation—two areas where those with autism are often deficient and in need of support. Sugar also feeds Candida, a type of yeast, common in autism. For children with autism, this combination can be particularly problematic. In this case, sugar depresses the immune system, contributes to further inflammation in the gut, and feeds Candida. Those with autism also benefit from a diet low in sugar as it supports balanced blood sugar. All of these imbalances affect the health and behavior of children with autism.

A Good Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb is to keep servings of sugary foods to a minimum or to avoid them all together. One teaspoon of granulated sugar has 4 grams of sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup has a teaspoon of sugar—that means it’s 1/3 sugar! When sugar is concentrated, such as in fruit juice, you are getting a lot more sugar than you’d get from eating fruit (about 4 pieces of fruit in one bottle) with no fiber to balance it out.

I suggest limiting sugar to one teaspoon of sugar per serving or about 4 grams, and minimizing sweet treats all together. Here are some surprising sources of and amounts of sugar:

  • Fruit juice (12 oz), 35 grams of sugar
  • Gluten-free muffin, 20-40 grams of sugar
  • 1 cup gluten-free cereal with non-dairy milk, 18 grams of sugar
  • 1 cup rice milk, 14 grams of sugar
  • GF Cookie, 15 grams of sugar
  • Fruit leather, 8 grams of sugar
  • Yogurt, 19 grams of sugar
  • ¼ cup raisins, 29 grams of sugar
  • ½ cup non-dairy ice cream, 15-20 grams of sugar

Being aware of the sources of sugar will help you choose wisely. Focus on feeding your child a well-balanced diet with minimal sugar. It’s well worth the effort, as it will support your child’s health for a lifetime.


Julie has written one of the most comprehensive books on autism and diet. Nourishing Hope for Autism is an indispensible handbook and one that I refer to often. You may purchase a copy here and/or enter to win one!

To Enter: Leave a comment at the end of this post by 5:00 p.m. (CST) Sunday, April 15.

Julie's Other Guest Posts

Julie Matthews | Guest Post 1: Nourshing Hope for Autism
Julie Matthews | Guest Post 2: Food Matters for Autism
Julie Matthews | Guest Post 3: Food Allergies, Sensitivities and Autism


Julie Matthews is a Certified Nutrition Consultant specializing in autism spectrum disorder for ten years. Her award winning book, Nourishing Hope for Autism, is based in scientific research and an understanding of the biochemistry of ASDs and the role of food, nutrition, and diet to aid digestive health, systemic healing, and relieve symptoms of autism. Julie presents at the leading biomedical autism conferences in the US and abroad, writes for autism publications, and has a private nutrition practice in San Francisco, California. Julie is available for long-distance consults via Skype. Learn more, visit

Julie can also be found on YouTube!