How Sugar-Strict Should You Be?

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about her ‘crazy’ sister-in-law who won’t let her kids (or the visiting kids) have a soda.  My colleague thought this was a little over the top and that there was nothing wrong with having a soda now and then.  While I confess that I have on occasion let my son have a soda, usually at a birthday party or other celebration hosted by others, I did have an answer for her and came to the defense of the unseen crazy sister-in-law (takes one to know one, right?).

The Sister-in-law’s defense your honor is a matter of the bar.  Not the legal bar exam to become a lawyer, but the bar which is a standard or expectation to which we, or the foods we put in our mouths, all must rise.  When someone raises the bar then they are increasing the expectations.



When someone drinks a soda their expectations for what is considered sweet just got thrown at the ceiling. Splat!  Will it fall on someone’s head like a wet wad of toilet paper from the school bathroom ceiling?  Yes.  It will fall on the heads of parents everywhere who are trying to keep reduce the amount of sugar their kids consume…. and perhaps struggling with their own sugar consumption as well.

Consider this – most people would agree that fruit is sweet.  Kids even like it, or they used to.  I am amazed by how many kids come over to ‘hang out’ (my son is now too old to play) who refuse a piece of fruit.  They don’t like fruit.  Now, surely there are people with fruit preferences and allergies or a particular fruit that just doesn’t a-peel (harhar)….. but I have to stop myself from saying, “What do you mean you don’t like fruit?  What’s not to like about fruit?  What DO you like?”

Candy, soda, sugar – then throw in some chips
Gimme candy, soda, sugar – right past my numbed out lips

When you drink a can of soda that has
39 g (about 10 tsp) of sugar in a 12 ounce can of cola;
23 g (almost 6 tsp) in an 8 ounce serving of minute maid orange juice;
the 23g in an 8 ounce serving of snapple lemon iced tea;
the 33g (over 8 tsp) in a 20 ounce bottle of vitaminwater….. isn’t that supposed to taste kind of like water?

Then don’t you think the following will seem a little less than sweet to your palate?:
9 g of sugar (about 2 tsp) in a serving of pineapple;
7 g (less than 2 tsp)in aserving of strawberries
17g (a bit more than 4 tsp) in 1 large banana
11g (almost 3 tsp) in a cup of apple slices

With or without scientific evidence, we all know that comparisons affect what we eat.  You get used to Starbuck’s coffee and then some other coffees start to taste a bit weak.  You eat lots of salty chips and you will probably find yourself reaching for the salt shaker more often when eating potatoes or eggs or other bland salt vehicles.  It’s the old Ka-Pow theory of the Sis Sisters – as we increase the amount of sugar (or salt for that matter) we feel constitutes the description ‘sweet’, a little less just doesn’t register as sweet anymore.  And sweet is oh so powerful….. it attracts more flies than vinegar after all and it is what little girls are made of along with spice and everything nice.  Or perhaps big girls like sweets so much because we never felt as sweet as we were supposed to be….. okay, I’m coming back, that’s another post entirely.

Back to kids and sugar.  By the time most kids finish the load of candy in their Easter basket there will be some other occasion to inundate them with candy.  In fact they’ll probably be given some at school next week, or at a meeting or gathering of some sort – along with some soda or juice to drink… or water with flavor (chemical crap) in it.  Is it any wonder that they are not interested in fruit?

So how strict should you be with your kid about sugar?  It’s a heck of an uphill battle, but preserving their ability to taste the sweetness in real food will shape what they choose to eat.  Sometimes you just have to draw the line somewhere…. I definitely draw the line at soda.  I do not provide soda for my son and his friends.  Perhaps someday he will go hog wild and drink a bunch of soda…. but he will know just how horrifically, un-naturally sweet it is, and hopefully the rebellion won’t last so long as to re-set his sugar bar.  Unfortunately it doesn’t take much of a miss to bump that pole up a little higher!

Mind you – we are all about Baby Steps even when it comes to kids and sugar – and perhaps especially when it comes to kids and sugar.  Work it down and work it out a bit at a time, hopefully with their agreement for lasting effects.




25 responses

  1. My mama says s-o-d-a is a four letter word. I have to agree. In fact, I don’t like it at all and probably much of that taste preference is growing up without any in the house. None for my kiddos either – though they are too young to rebel yet.

    • Your Mama has got it right! I love it! I am a nurse and tell my patients who request soda to drink that I prefer not to give my patients poison 🙂
      It is definitely a bit easier to control intake when children are younger but you are laying good groundwork and good habits!

  2. I love this! My friends think I’m crazy trying to limit the amount of sugar my kids eat. They get candy at school every week, sometimes more. Then there is almost a birthday every week, so they also have cupcakes. And the rewards for perfect attendance, good conduct, etc. are always popsicle parties and the like. It has gotten so bad that my daughter (10) usually refuses whatever is offered to her.

    • And they call you crazy!!!! I have fought my school system several times on sugar and candy being used as rewards and had some success. Some school districts actually have a policy about what can / can’t be served at school. I was delighted to find that my school had one and thus I was able to put the kabosh on the teachers providing Coke as a reward for a reading program. Maybe your school has a policy about food?

      • LOL You’re going to think our food policy is crazy too. The only rule is that it has to be prepackaged. No homemade anything. Mostly, I’m teaching my kids why those things are bad for them so that they are making the choice themselves. They also know that they get one big treat per week, so if they choose to eat sugary junk at school, then I won’t make a {healthier} homemade dessert that week. Most of the time they would rather have a few homemade chocolate chip cookies than a blue cupcake.

      • Good for you! Little Sis has a similar policy with a weekly treat that gets negated by blue things at school 😉

  3. Another issue for some of us – not everyone – is that eating sugar itself causes sugar craving. If I don’t have any – and also follow a good balanced diet – I don’t want any. If I have some, I start craving…

    I first noticed this in myself years ago, when I was working in daycare. Families would bring in birthday cakes (slight digression – small children are *very* into the ceremony of the cake – but most don’t actually like cake… We’d end up throwing a lot out.) Occasionally I’d have a piece. And that night I’d want cookies or something – which I normally very rarely ate… and I’d want some the next day… and get cranky if I didn’t have it.

    i now recognize myself as Sugar Sensitive – highly reactive to sugar – and avoid it all together. And I don’t miss it.

    So, a parent who doesn’t want her child to have even one serving of sugar may know her child has this sensitivity, and not want to trigger it…

    • You are so right Anne! I think this has even been scientifically proven to be true for most everyone – sugar makes you want more sugar. This is why diet drinks and non-caloric sweeteners don’t help people lose weight because their sweet taste makes people crave more sweet taste!

  4. We are dealing with this everyday! Sigh. We don’t do soda, only drink water, raw milk and the occasional homemade sweet tea (more tea than sweet 😉 ). We have been able to get rid of all the candy we were consuming. However, it’s like there is a force agaisnt us lowering our sugar intake! We go to ballet =candy. We go to piano = candy. We go to church = candy. Go to swimming = candy. Heck, this week we took grandma to the doctor and one lady gave my kids jelly beans while we were in the elevator!!!! I can’t scape it!! To kae things worse, my kids accept the candy and eat it 😦 I have made peace with this hoping that one day they will say no (they are young still).

    • It is so very hard to fight the societal fixation on providing children with candy. I remember people used to ask before offering children candy. Not anymore. And you will (probably already have) receive lots of flack for depriving your children of a little fun. It’s only a little bit….. plus a little bit, plus a little bit….

  5. I’ve been living a reduced sugar life for a year and a half now, when I do eat it, it is normally in the form of cake (which I love!) and I try to eat only homemade as healthy as it can be cake. I can’t stand to drink any sugary drinks anymore and on the rare occasion I have my teeth and gums actually hurt! Yuck yuck.

    • It is so helpful to reach the point when you immediately notice feeling worse from consuming large amounts of sugar. Congratualtions! And I agree – homemade at least lets you reduce the sugar and know what exactly is in there! Thanks for sharing your success 🙂

    • That’s the best first step Erika! That means you don’t have junk in the house and you are setting a great example. Congratulations on your upcoming child!

  6. Great post. There is nothing sweeter and more satisfying than fruit! Especially freshly-cut pineapple! Sugar is so bad for you. I do cheat now and then, but I don’t like what sugar does to my body, so I stay away from it in general.

  7. Pingback: New Nostalgia – Anti-Procrastination Tuesday

  8. Pingback: Suh-weeeeeeet!! | my sister's pantry

  9. Hello cute lady! Great article. Pinned. We really appreciate you taking the time to stop by our party. It wouldn’t be a party without you. Please join us on Monday at 7 pm. Happy Saturday! Lou Lou Girls

  10. Pingback: Loving Raw Chocolate Macaroons | my sister's pantry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s