Trial Balloon

Your Share of Sugar

Posted at 5:35 AM on August 26, 2009 by Dale Connelly (17 Comments)

The American Heart Association has issued some new guidelines for sugar intake, which is a particularly cruel step to take during the week that marks the opening of the Minnesota State Fair. I don't know if the recommendations make sense, but they do prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Heart Association people really do care about your health and also that they are absolutely no fun to be around.

The proposal is that most women limit their processed sugar intake to 6 teaspoons a day, and most men keep it at or below 9 teaspoons. This sounds manageable. After all, who eats sugar by the teaspoon? But once you look at sugar in the real world, the problem becomes obvious. A typical 12 ounce can of pop contains approximately 8 teaspoons of sugar.

So she suddenly is not allowed to finish her drink because it would put her one teaspoon over her budget. Meanwhile, he gets to guzzle down an entire Mountain Dew and still has one wild teaspoon left over for a night on the town. He can splurge - spending it frivolously on any selfish indulgence he desires, like, say, a thimble sized chunk of a Twinkie.

The inequality of this standard is provocative and it may upend the delicate balance of power inside some relationships. How can mature people observe these limits with the least possible rancor?

I suggest upsizing and sharing.

Rather than dealing with the dangerous political puzzle posed by the presence of two 12 ounce cans, a typical pop drinking couple could co-operate on a 20 ounce bottle, which has 13 teaspoons of sugar inside.

Think about it. His budget is 9 teaspoons and hers is 6 for a total of 15, so if they allocate the contents proportionately, they'll both finish with one teaspoon of sugar left over and they could still go to the fair and share a single mini-donut, bringing the rest of the bag home for the dog, who does not care what the American Heart Association suggests regarding healthy amounts of sugar.

And it's simple to figure out - they simply hand the bottle back and forth, alternating sips, except every other time he gets the bottle he DOUBLE sips. Easy, see?

OK, it wasn't that so easy. But my other idea is a complicated system of sugar allowances and buy-backs that lets individuals who are consistently below their sugar limits to sell virtual teaspoons to other people who want to pay for the privilege of going over budget. I know it sounds fussy and intricate, but would keep that State Fair Fudge Puppy within the realm of possibility, although you'd have to get a loan to be able to afford it.

In a dietary sugar cap-and-trade world, would you be a buyer or a seller?



Comments (17)

if i had to make a choice, i'd trade all my sugar allowance for salt. but my choice is to avoid counting - especially if i were at the fair. kudos to those folks who do pay attention. my effort is trying to eat local, which in Blackhoof can be quite healthy and even more importantly - delicious. so now our fair food wil be the bacon dipped in dark chocolate on a stick, right? - oh, with a diet soda.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | August 26, 2009 6:26 AM


Does Maple Syrup count? If so, I may be in trouble...how about honey? Is it a blessing for me that my bees will not be providing a surplus for me this fall?

Bless you, Dale and Mike, for bringing Thistle and Shamrock to Radio Heartland. It is such a treasure of a show.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | August 26, 2009 6:46 AM


If I wanted to live forever, I'd take this sugar crap seriously.

By all means, I'm a buyer. On our weekender up north, Lora and I stumbled into Great Lakes Candy Kitchen and each came out around $30 less. I wish I'd spent 3X that - one of the best candy stores I've experienced!
I can't wait for the fair to have the ice cream at the dairy barn - with a diet soda, like Barb says.

Do you happen to have The Candy Man in the lib?

Posted by Donna | August 26, 2009 6:48 AM


I have to admit I would certainly be a sugar buyer! Life often simply requires sweetening I think. It's a fair question to ask the AHA if they have ever studied the sugar substitutes so often used to replace sugar. But they probably wouldn't dare!

Not that I donl't like salt, nothing better on an ear of corn freshly buttered! Don't evn start on butter.... life is for living!

Posted by Kim in Saint Paul | August 26, 2009 6:56 AM


My goodness, so much math and food science. You out did yourself Dale. This is very complicated. I could deal with limiting the pop drinking, but I'm afraid I'm way over the limit for sugar when candy, cookies, and other sweets are added in.

Do we get any credit for eating lots of fruit and vegetables and other healthy food? I don't know if it really would work to buy sugar credits from low sugar eaters. It would cost me a lot. Would the low sugar eaters come to my house and consume my sweet treats for me?

Posted by Jim | August 26, 2009 6:58 AM


Jim,
My understanding of the guidelines is that you don't have to count the naturally occuring sugars in fruit and vegetables, so in that sense you get credit for eating them. But you can't eat enough broccoli to make that brownie OK.
Don't rely too heavily on my math and food science skills. I decided to try to figure out how two people could drink some pop under the rules and not have any left over - a fool's errand, I fear. I should have quit early in the process.

Posted by Dale Connelly | August 26, 2009 7:13 AM


Dale, doesn't Dave van Ronk have a recording of Candy Man? And I'm thinking Mississippi John Hurt or Light'n (sic) Hopkins also did a recording.

How about Sugar Shack by Nancy Sinatra

oh, Roy Orbison...excellent.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | August 26, 2009 7:17 AM


Oh this would be a great time to here Ice Cream Man by Tom Waits.....

Posted by Kate from Eden Prairie | August 26, 2009 7:19 AM


Never heard Roy's Candy Man til now, or the reverend's. Wonder if either of them were originally considered for the man behind the counter part singing to the kids in the Willy Wonka movie.

Posted by Donna | August 26, 2009 7:25 AM


I would definitely be on the sugar-consumption side of the cap and trade...but I wonder, if dark chocolate is good for my heart (or so I recall), can I balance the sugar from a bowl of ice cream (calcium for the bones y'know) with a bit of extra dark chocolate (I'm a fan of the 80% and above, which tends to be lower in sugar than regular chocolate)?

Posted by Anna | August 26, 2009 7:40 AM


Hey, Sweetie... how about "Sugar in the Morning" by the McGuire Sisters? Nah, you won't have it. I remember sitting in the back seat of my Mom's 57 Chevy and hearing it on the radio. She hated that song, but I thought it was great.

Also, regarding adding syndicated programs to RH: How about if Ann Reed produces a syndicated program, you play it at random times during the week, and then you sell it to other stations splitting the (non)profit fairly between Ann and RH.

Posted by Holly of Northfield | August 26, 2009 7:43 AM


They did say processed sugar, right? I plan to get around the restriction by following Valerie Carter's advice - Cook With Honey.

Posted by Linda in St. Paul (West Side) | August 26, 2009 8:03 AM


It is good to know that natural sugar is not part of the limit of 9 teaspons of sugar for men. Perhaps I should have a little honey spead on something healthy instead of the candy or cookies.

A few more comments on the new programing for RH. It was mentioned that some or all of the new shows could also be heard by getting them directly by computer. That's true, but I have trouble getting the audio to work well for listening with my computer. I know how to deal with the problems I have with getting the audio to work for RH, but there are some other problems I don't know how to handle when I try to listen to some other programs using my computer.

Posted by Jim | August 26, 2009 8:14 AM


Greetings Heartlanders! Dale, I like your idea of cap and trade sugar allowances -- very clever! Actually, I'm glad they came out with limits on sugar, much like they have for sodium and fats -- although it just all reeks of diet police.

Unfortunately, it is a somewhat necessary step because most food sold in supermarkets are enhanced with chemicals to excite and stimulate our taste buds in an unnatural way. This encourages overeating of non-nutritive food which leads to obesity and disease. I know, I'm a killjoy, but it's all so true.

I'm as addicted to it as anyone else, but I'm learning to enjoy the flavors of foods in their natural state. Have a great day!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | August 26, 2009 8:39 AM


i'd be willing to bet that the AHA counts maple syrup and honey in their sugar restrictions. you are right, Dale - not a fun bunch. i bet the Europeans are laughing even harder at us right now.....

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | August 26, 2009 8:48 AM


i'm with Barb, don't pay attention much to what i eat, but then i don't drink pop or eat many processed foods
i'd also trade, if necessary, for salt; fortunately my blood pressure is really low
all that math is way too much for an old lady

Posted by shelley | August 26, 2009 9:28 AM


Cool, Dale, you played some Mike Auldridge dobro! That guy is smooth.

Hope to see you at The Fair!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | August 26, 2009 12:34 PM


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