Go Ahead, Snarf That 5-Pound-Bag of Sugar


Imagine pouring a 5-pound bag of sugar down your throat … new research shows that this is how much sugar each American man, woman, and child gets each month — and most of it doesn’t come from the sugar bowl.”
— Opening chapter from “The Sugar Solution.”

Now, re-read that statement. Here are the key words:

  • 5-pound bag of sugar
  • man, woman, and child
  • each month

Let’s translate for those of you who are shocked right now: Every month you, yes you, eat 5 pounds of sugar.

What is going on here?

Since I have had the pleasure of having gestational diabetes for a second time around I have been noticing even more how hard it is for American’s to not eat sugar. It’s nearly unavoidable. And this isn’t just about being diabetic. It’s about a healthy lifestyle that sugar robs of us because we are surrounded by bad choices.

Sugar is Everywhere You Turn

It’s in that white hamburger bun and in that multi-grain sandwich bread. Unless it’s whole wheat, it’s got more sugar than you think. And, try asking a restaurant if they will serve you a slice of whole wheat bread. Most look at me like I’ve asked to be sent to the moon. Forget about whole grain pasta.

Making Concessions

If you are truly on a sugar-free diet you have to make concessions and sometimes it gets boring. I get tired of asking for a hamburger without the bun and a side salad.

And, then there’s my regular coffee from Starbucks. I have to remember that in addition to saying that I want a “tall, decaf, vanilla latte,” I have to remember to say sugar-free AND NO whip. Because, you know, sugar-free only refers to the beverage, not anything they would add on top of the beverage.

What About Sugar and the Kids?

We need to learn more about food and what we are eating. At every meal, we need to think about that 5-pound bag of sugar. What choices can we make to reduce that amount? We need to start learning more about food so that we can prepare more healthful meals for our families and teach our kids how to eat. Make them aware of what they are eating so they will grow up with this information.

Reward the Effort

Children need to be rewarded for adopting healthier habits, not for pounds lost. ‘The biggest mistake parents make is offering children food-related rewards in exchange for weight loss,’ says Hangen (Jan P. Hangen, RD) …
The next time your child begs for candy after dinner in exchange for eating all his peas and carrots, try offing yourself as a reward instead.”
“The Sugar Solution.”

The Sugar SolutionThis last quote really hits home. How often have I though to offer my son a cookie after dinner if he eats his peas? Next time I’ll offer to play with him after dinner. After all, kids just want to be with us. A cookie treat is fine every now and then, but shouldn’t be part of the offer when eating healthy foods.

For me, when I’m done with gestational diabetes (and hopefully it will go away again after I have this baby) I am going to really try to keep in place some of my learnings about food. Making better choices will help me avoid becoming a full-blown type 2 diabetic later in life, but it will also help my family become a more healthy one. I might even put a 5-pound bag of sugar on the kitchen counter as a reminder — make that 4, 5-pound bags to represent all the sugar that my family would eat in a month if we aren’t more aware.


Photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Daisy February 7, 2009, 7:49 pm

    I’d be interested in seeing similar stats on salt. there’s so much in so many of our daily foods, and we’re not aware of it unless we read, really read, the details on the packages.

  • akeorlando February 8, 2009, 12:53 pm

    It’s probably going to be the death of me, but I <3 sugar.

  • anonymous April 10, 2012, 3:08 pm

    sugar is not only in those foods. it is in all plants so eating a salad has sugar too. nobody can avoid sugar.

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