How Sweet It Is

By Judy Berman

Every night, I run the gauntlet as I leave work. I hear the siren song of the vending machine trying to lure me in.

A seductive voice whispers my name as I slip past the huge red, white and blue soda machine.

“How sweet it is,” I hear Jackie Gleason croon, as he downs a drink. Then, off he rushes across the stage as he shouts, “And away we go.”

What energy he has. It must be the sugar rush.

When I resist the temptation of a soda, candy – anything chocolate, or pastries, I congratulate myself for not caving in and buying it. But the sweet stuff is lurking in a number of unsuspecting places such as in cereals, spaghetti sauce, yogurt and Lunchables. Just to name a few.

Sugar is addictive. Dr. Sonjay Gupta reported on “60 Minutes” that we need to limit sugar consumption because it’s taking a toll on our health. “The average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar a year.”

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, “believes the consumption of added sugars has plunged America into a public-health crisis.” He said 75 percent of it is preventable.

“New research … is starting to show that sugar, the way many people are eating it today, is a toxin and could be a driving force behind some of this country’s leading killers, including heart disease,” Dr. Gupta reported during his “60 Minutes” report, “Is Sugar Toxic?”

Yeah, I know. Buzz kill. Check out any store. Chocolate bunnies and sugary marshmallow peeps have multiplied faster then … well, rabbits.

Sugar is everywhere. At the grocery store, I bypassed the usual suspects containing sugar. Sodas and sweets? That’s old school. You can satisfy your sweet tooth from morning until night. Just read the nutrition facts on the labels to decide which one is the better choice for your health:

  • Instant oatmeal. Once you start adding maple and brown sugar, or raisins, dates and walnuts, you can deduct nutritional value. I saw one brand that contained 11 grams of sugar in one serving.
  • Spaghetti sauce. Sure, I add a little sugar in my sauce when I cook a vat of it. But one brand in the store had 9 grams of sugar per serving. Depending on the brand, a serving is only a half-cup (4 oz.).
  • Fancy some mac ‘n’ cheese? You can have it along with 7 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Lunchables – those favorite no-fuss, no-muss lunch packs for kids. One had as much as 32 grams of sugar for an itty-bitty lunch.
  • Yogurt – healthy food, right? “Caveat emptor.” (“Let the buyer beware.”) One brand had 29 grams of sugar per serving.

They’re all sweet talking us with James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved by You.”

Dr. Robert Lustig said we replaced one unhealthy thing with another in our diet.

“Take the fat out of food, it tastes like cardboard. And the food industry knew that. So they replaced it with sugar.”

So what’s the solution? Dr. Lustig, in a report he co-authored with the American Heart Association, recommended “men should consume no more than 150 calories of added sugars a day. And, women, just 100 calories. That’s less than the amount in just one can of soda.”

That’d be hard to swallow for most of us. A sensible solution is to have a balanced diet, reduce calories, and exercise.

And I’ll get right on that after I polish off my long-eared chocolate bunny.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Photo: chocolate bunny (author: domenico bandiera from cattolica in 2006 – image originally posted on Flickr

* Jackie Gleason: “How sweet it is.”

* Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s report on sugar and the serious toll it can take on your health on “60 Minutes.”

* “Is Sugar Toxic, 60 Minutes,” – An article on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s report on new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health …

* “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You,” by James Taylor

  1. Oh poo! A dozen years ago, the medical industry had me ration eggs because of cholesterol. Now it seems, they were wrong and eggs are good. I predict that in 10 years, the meds will recommend everyone eat some level of chocolate each day!
    Other than that I will say that the only way to cut down on sugar is to “cook it yourself.” I started doing my own yogurt because prepared was too sweet for me. I like mine better. Now I better go check my spaghetti sauce. Oh and I never thought that oatmeal was all that healthy!

    1. Yes, even water – if we have too much of it – is probably unhealthy. 🙂
      Several years ago, for my husband’s health and mine, I did start checking the labels and found products that were tasty that were also low in fat, sodium and sugar. But, like you, I also began cooking it myself.
      BTW, I’d love your recipe for yogurt. (I have bananas with my oatmeal, but then I defeat the purpose of healthy eating by cooking instant oatmeal.)

      1. Sorry to get you excited about yogurt — I buy the plain low-fat version but add my own fruit without tons of sugar. I love it best with strawberries because it tastes so fresh and lasts a while in the fridge. I used to buy the commecial fruit version and cut it half and half with plain but you can’t beat fresh fruit. I have made yogurt in the past. It’s so easy that I have been thinking of trying again. Basically it’s milk with a splotch of regular yogurt for the culture. Let it sit on the counter and it ferments.

  2. Unfortunately it is estimated that the average child consumes 5 pounds of sugar a day. Have you looked at the size of a 5 pound container of sugar laterly. UGH!

    As parents we definitely need to be reading the labels for our children and helping them to set good habits from the start. Moderation is definitely the key.

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