a good reminder

One rainy day last week, we did abbreviated studies and then spent the remainder of the morning watching Fed Up, a documentary about the food industry and, in particular, our children and the obesity epidemic.

I highly recommend it. The children (just the younger three—my older son was at work) were totally into it. I had to pause the movie multiple times to answer their questions and check their comprehension. (And now I want my husband and son to watch it, too.)

Some key points (as I remember them—don’t quote me!):

*Out of 23 rats who were given the choice of cocaine water or sugar water, 20 chose sugar water. Sugar is addictive. Our culture is addicted to sugar.
*In the same way that we are now appalled at how doctors used to endorse cigarettes, our future selves will be shocked at how we are—right now—so accepting of the sugar industry.
*A third of our population is obese. Another notable percentage is TOFI (thin on the outside, fat on the inside). Together, over half of our population is physically sick.
*Our government does not have our children’s best interests in mind. As they said, “The fox is guarding the hen house.”
*Parents are in charge of their children’s eating habits, yes. But, and especially for school children who are eating cafeteria lunches and exposed to lots of prepackaged snack food, it’s like fighting an uphill battle. Processed junk food is everywhere. Socially and culturally, the odds are stacked against our children. 

*Did you ever notice how nutrition labels don’t list the daily percentages for sugars? Thank the sugar lobbyists for that lack of information. They don’t want us to know and have fought hard for the right to keep us in the dark.
*What is the daily allotment of sugar? According to the movie, it’s ten to twelve grams, or roughly three teaspoons. (Though I’ve read elsewhere that it’s up to 25 grams for an adult.) The point is, we should be eating practically no sugar.

And here’s where I got confused. One cup of whole milk has 11 grams of sugar, and one apple has about 19 grams of sugar, ba-BAM. That’s your daily allowance of sugar, so forget about that small scoop of brown sugar on your morning oatmeal, that half-teaspoon of sugar in your tea, the little puddle of ketchup with your oven fries, the home-canned applesauce, or the raisins with your mixed nuts. A cookie? A muffin? Syrup on a pancake? Jam on toast? No way. You. are. done.

Which doesn’t quite feel fair. I mean, raisins are good for you, right? So are they just talking about added sugars? Perhaps. But they clearly said that sugar is sugar is sugar. There are many, many names for it, but they all—even honey and maple syrup—have the same adverse effects. This gave—gives—me pause. Any way you look at it, we’ve got to cut back.

post movie: my lunch 

After watching the movie, I did some obsessing. I hung out in the pantry reading labels. I studied our dinner plates. I fretted and stewed. Sugar is everywhere! It seems so impossible! But now, after a few days of thinking, incorporating, and reevaluating all the information, these are the nuggets I’ve carried with me.

1. I am addicted to sugar.
2. Just say no to Twizzlers!
3. Be enormously leery of packaged foods: crackers, mixes, dressings, yogurts, etc.
4. Buy food in its natural state. Better yet, grow it myself.
5. Beverages are real killers. Drink water.
6. Make my own desserts.

All these things, I knew already. But it was good to sit with the problem for awhile, to examine the facts, to wrestle with the issues, and to scrutinize my habits. Over time, I can grow desensitized to the bigger picture and blind to the little details, becoming the passive consumer that I’m supposed to be. The movie was just the kick I needed.

Have you seen this movie? What did you think?

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (3.17.14) and oatmeal pancakes.


  • Mavis

    Sugar is my drug of choice. It makes me happy. Even if/when all the teeth in my head fall out… I will find a way to enjoy it. Must.Have.Sugar.

  • Becky

    I haven't watched the film, although I've heard about all it. (I've also not watched Food, Inc nor did I finish either Omnivore's Dilemma or that Barbara Kingsolver book about eating local). I feel like it's sort of preaching to the choir here – I've long been slightly obsessed about knowing exactly where our food comes from. I also believe in everything in moderation. I don't worry about natural sugars and I have a tendency to cut the sugar in my jams and jellies. But sugar is a preservative, so there's no entirely cutting it out of those.
    Other than canning and baking my own desserts (so not giving those up), my biggest use of sugar is in my morning coffee. I suppose I could cut back on that morning sugar…

  • Lana

    The real kick in the pants with sugar is that the more you eat of it the more acidic the body becomes and the more you crave it. To kill the cravings you must get the body alkaline. You can buy Ph test strips for checking but if you are a sugar addict you are probably acidic. Being overly acidic opens your body up to infection and cancer. Cancer cannot grow in an alkaline body so there we have the cancer epidemic, too. Eating lots of fresh, raw foods and daily raw greens can correct the Ph. If the acidity is really high then consider taking alfalfa capsules. I corrected my Ph and the sugar cravings went way down and I know that if they spike back up I need to get the raw foods and greens back up to make it go away. One thing about milk–it is just a beverage that is high in sugars–humans cannot absorb calcium from pasteurized milk so that does a body good thing is just advertising. If I am going to drink something other than water I make it a natural juice since those nutrients are accessible to the body.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    Sugars are essential to our bodies, actually. I think people mean that you should cut out added sugars, not naturally occurring ones (unless, of course, you are diabetic). So I wouldn't feel bad about binging on fresh fruit and such. Like so many other things, it's all about balance. Says the woman with a CocaCola addiction…

  • Margo

    I definitely want my kids to see this. Maybe they will listen to it because my preaching on the sugar addiction gets OLD and they tune me out. I try a little bit to cut back on sugar and we usually only drink water and milk and we rarely have processed foods in the house, but still. . .

  • Anonymous

    Try looking up Focus on the Family broadcasts featuring nutritionist David Meinz. I think they aired in Aug.2014 and then again in their "Best of the Best" programs at the end of the year. I liked them because he's funny, uses common sense when it comes to what we eat, and makes the info about sugars, fats, and reading labels VERY accessible.

  • Laura J.

    I will definitely be watching this as soon as I can. I'm 12 weeks in to my second pregnancy. On my first, I tested borderline for gestational diabetes. I am determined not to this time around, so I've tried to cut out ADDED sugar, but you're so right! What about fruit? What about milk? What about carbs? That's technically sugar, right? I can't believe honey and maple syrup are in the same category though! What's a mom to do?!?

  • dr perfection

    I don't know how you are going to cut out sugar, sugar. You eat tons of sugar. Make your own desserts? They are loaded with sugar. Good luck!

  • Kathy

    My doctor says at every visit, "Remember, limit sugar and white flour." And I nod my head, and say, "uh huh." Each time I come home and try really hard to start taking his advice. But the addiction wins every time…sugar is my weakness!

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    Jamey is training right now and being really careful about what he eats so the rest of us are along for the ride (seeing as I don't want to make three separate meals every night). We haven't seen this yet but I'm putting it on the list. Very good reminders for all.

  • KTdid

    I got this info quite a while back and tried to totally change my eating habits. I was most definitely addicted to sugar! (As is everyone in the modern age, I think) I keep backsliding, but at least it's better to be in the know. Wishing you the best!

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