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Just a spoonful of sugar: What is that delightful flavor to you?


Spoonful of sugar (Pixabay)

It’s an old song in an old movie where Julie Andrews sings “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down…”

The lyrics floated in my memory recently because of all the news about sugar. From the news the government canceled an order to import 300,000 metric tons, to the anticipated shortage of sugar come October, to beverage companies stopping assembly lines here for lack of what else – that sugar ingredient, to the item on pandesal bakers mulling the reduction of sugar in this morning staple – how can that song not be on my mind.

Sugar is part of life. And as the song goes, it makes the medicine go down. Imagine swallowing sugarless cough syrup. If pandesal goes sugarless, and you dip that into sugar-free coffee, I wonder what kind of morning upper that would be.

It is likely that many people exceed the daily consumption level of sugar for their age. Even without a sweet tooth, many food items taken in the course of the day contain sugar. Think of cookies, donuts, cupcakes, soda, fruit smoothie, energy drink.

Is sugar good for the body? I know it brings delight so that feeling boosts the mood – and that’s good for me! It’s also good for those who need an instant lift, a second wind for people on a run or on a long hike. (I always have a pack of M&Ms in my backpack when on a hike or long drive.)

We all know that too much of a delightful thing is not good for the body. Health experts have advised that for many years. Open any health website and you’ll find an item advising you to reduce your sugar intake.

So, when is sugar “too much” for you?

The advice of the American Heart Association is carried in many health experts’ columns: Men should consume no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day. For women, the number is lower: six teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day.

The best way to visualize those numbers is to think about a spoonful of sugar. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has a neat image for that: four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

If you’re thinking of opening a 12-ounce can of cola, that’s 39 grams of sugar – almost 10 teaspoons of sugar, the school’s Nutrition Source newsletter said.

Here’s an item from the same newsletter that may interest those who want to lose weight but can’t kick the soda drink or the fruit smoothie habit:

“If you were to drink just one 12-ounce can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day, and not cut back on calories elsewhere, you could gain up to 15 pounds over three years.”

For those with a sweet tooth (like me), avoiding sugar is like being on an extended Lenten abstinence sacrifice. We don’t need to live life without sugar, though. We just have to reduce intake of that very delightful flavor. Here’s a few tips on how to keep on eating that source of delight:

Eat a smaller portion of your favorite cake and enjoy it by chewing slowly and savoring each bite.
Share the sugar – cut your dessert in half and share that with a friend.
Choose water to quench thirst, even during a workout.
When the sweet craving comes, have some unsweetened dry fruit or a cup of ripe fresh fruit.
My deep dive into the subject of sugar (not as delightful as tasting the real thing, though) revealed an interesting fact on the sugar consumption of Filipinos. Contrary to casual observation of peers and other people in the restaurants and supermarkets, our sugar consumption has gone down, according to CHINI-MANDI, India’s largest news & information portal for the sugar and allied industry.

In a post on February 2022, the website reported: “Filipino sugar consumption hit by health push.” The article said the Philippines’ sugar consumption growth is flattening.

“The Philippines consumes around 2.5 million tons of sugar each year, making it one of the largest consumers in Asia, along with India, China, Indonesia and Thailand. But the government’s move to tax sugar sweetened beverages in 2018 has caused the reduction in sugar consumption,” the article said.
A report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the Philippines sugar production and consumption said “2023 consumption is forecast to stay flat at 2.3 million metric tons.

Remember the news reports years ago on school administrations prohibiting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages? I am sure that will still be the policy after schools opened for face-to-face classes recently.

For now, my mind is on another spoonful of sugar. Pinky Concha-Colmenares

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Credit belongs to: www.mb.com.ph

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