How bad is sugar for you? Dr. Weston A. Price found that when people started to eat a diet high in refined sugar and flour instead of their traditional diet, their health declined quickly. Julia Ross (author of "The Mood Cure" and "The Diet Cure") believes that sugar can be just as addicting as drugs to some people. And there is a general consensus that our sugar consumption is a factor in obesity, diabetes and other health issues. (I don’t think that if someone has weight issues or diabetes that it was necessarily because of their sugar consumption, simply that it is a factor for some.)
Did you know that Americans eat, on average, 152 pounds of sugar every single year per person? About 200 hundred years ago, we ate an average of two pounds of sugar every year, so we’ve gained a lot of sugar per year rapidly.
Part of the reason we've had this increase is because sugar is so cheap.
But guess what? Sugary foods aren’t always cheap. If you look at the numbers of how often the average American eats out, and how much it would cost if you got a soda every time you did (which many do), you would be paying around $977 a year just to have soda with your meal. With 53 million Americans drinking a soda everyday, just the daily expense of it will add up.
When you add to that the “cheap” sugary foods such as packaged (or bakery) cookies, cakes, pop tarts, “breakfast bars,” pancake syrup, chocolate milk, candy and snacks, the average American must spend a small fortune on sugar in some form or another.
And, even buying 152 poundhttp://admin1.mnn.com/node/259601/edits of sugar per person is going to cost something. Let’s say you are a family of four. That would be 608 pounds of sugar every year. If you were buying cheap sugar – say from Wal-Mart, you could get it for .58 cents a pound. Not very much, right? Well, that would still be $352 per year. That would buy me one-eighth of a grass-fed cow share, right there.
For your health, adding in nourishing food is more important than simply taking sugar out. But as you do that, you may find your food budget groaning. If you were buying a lot of sugary packaged foods and/or soda, you just may find that your budget groans less once you dramatically cut down on those purchases.
We eat sugar, but we generally choose it in the form of maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar. And if we were to replace all of the sugary foods Americans usually eat with these more expensive, less refined versions, we would pay even a whole lot more. So we simply prioritize.
We attempt to limit our packaged foods dramatically, and keep desserts and sweets special instead of part of the daily life. That way we have more money to spend on higher quality meats, vegetables, fruits and grains. It helps.
The other advantage? We are going on a trip this summer, where I plan on splurging on some organic candy for the plane trip (as well as bringing some homemade treats). My kids won’t be the only one in enjoying such a special treat, because I plan on enjoying it too! While eating a ton of sugar on a trip is a bad idea for us, as we could get sick with our immune system overloaded with sugar, a little bit will make that long plane trip go a whole lot smoother for us.
Related on MNN: