For The Love Of Food

What’s in your bowl?

by  Jessie Curran, Brown Dining Dietitian, M.S., R.D.

Yogurt has a healthy reputation, but beware, many brands of yogurt can have the same sugar load and health properties as a dish of ice cream (aka none). There’s room for all types of foods in a well-balanced diet, but yogurt can be a sneaky when most people don’t realize it may qualify as dessert.

Don’t throw your yogurt away yet! Some yogurt choices are excellent – to determine how much sugar is added to your yogurt some math is required.  For our purposes, the general rule is that yogurt contains about 13 grams of natural sugar per 8 oz. Natural sugars appear in fruits, vegetables, and dairy as part of their natural makeup; the rest is added during processing. Turn your yogurt cup around to see the nutrition facts, look for the total sugars and substrate 13 from that number. The result is the grams of added sugar. If you really like math go ahead and divide that by 4, now you know how many teaspoons of sugar were added.

Want to keep it simple? Take the math out by choosing plain yogurt. Just know, it can be an acquired taste, tart and tangy instead of sweet. If you need to let your palate adjust, top your bowl with fruit, seeds, a drizzle of honey or nut butter. If you stick to a drizzle, you’ll be adding way less sugar than a pre-sweetened version.

My favorite combination to make is plain yogurt, sunflower seeds, blueberries and a few raisins (you can find all these ingredients and more at the oatmeal bars in the Ratty & V-Dub – where we serve a local favorite: Narragansett Creamery yogurt).

Did you make an interesting yogurt bowl? Let us know. Share your photos with us by using #rattygourmet.


At Brown Dining, we know there’s a lot on your plate that you worry about. That’s why we have a Nutrition Team with a registered dietitian and nutritionist participating in menu development. They can also answer your questions about which food choices will help you work, study, and perform better, and form long-lasting healthy eating habits. Email your questions and feedback to