by Carol Belanger, BA, RM, BHS
Many have seen the internet photos of the numbers of stacked sugar cubes representing the amount of sugar in various products we consume. I remember feeling horrified the first time I viewed this series of photos, even though I knew these products had a fair amount of sugar in them. For example:
Product Sugar Equivalent shows in cubes:
Small bottle coke (250ml) 16 ½
Ben and Jerry’s ice cream small tub 19 ½
Vitamin Water 7
1 cinnabun 14
Tall can Arizona ice tea 18
Small box raisins 7 ½
3 chocolate chip cookies 2 ¾
I asked my kids recently if they could eat a sugar cube. They answered yes. My husband explained that it had been a real treat to be given if not a whole then a partial cube of sugar to suck on. So in my efforts to impress upon my kids that they didn’t know how many sugar cubes they would have to eat to equal their treats, I explained that the bottle of coke that is a treat for them has 16 ½ cubes worth of sugar in it. Loosely in the bottle, the pile comes up almost to the bottle of the label! Their reply was, ‘So.’ Reflecting their complete lack of understanding of the problem.
They understood better when I told them that their liver helps with digestion. That it would convert sugar to glycogen and return it to the bloodstream a little at a time over the course of the day to keep their energy going through the day, signaled by the pancreas. But if they ate too much sugar or carbs at one time, the liver would convert it to fat instead and store it in the body. And that later it would take more of their energy to convert their fat stores to energy and they would likely feel more tired and want to just eat again. With so much emphasis on child obesity rates, plus peer pressure, there is quite a lot of awareness at the school level about being a healthy body size and structure. But energy levels are not understood by them.
So I then explained, that if they did some exercise – specifically yoga or qigong, they could Cultivate energy for themselves without food, or food conversion. This required more explanation.