Sugar pushes buttons

Tuesday night, I wrote a post about how America indoctrinates our children into the Sugar Culture from the word go.  I really didn’t expect the post to generate much interest.

Boy, was I off.

Now granted, my blog page is still in its infancy and doesn’t see spectacular numbers, but in numbers of views, last night’s post has nearly tripled the next closest post.  It has been shared a couple dozen times so far, and seemed to be a big topic of conversation at my workout earlier tonight.

It seems that more people than I expected are also frustrated by the seemingly universal assumption that it’s OK to bribe and/or reward children — yours and mine — with sweets.

If you’ll indulge me for one more post on the subject, the whole thing has stirred my thinking today about how we are influenced by our culture.  Actually, “influenced” isn’t a strong enough word here.  Strike that and replace with “programmed.”  I really don’t mean to go all conspiracy theorist on you — I’m not one of those guys — and I don’t believe our government is inherently evil and trying purposely to brainwash us, blah, blah, blah.  I do, however, believe that when enough people do the same insane thing over and over again enough times and over enough years, that once-clearly-insane thing eventually becomes sane.  Even smart.  Even mainstream. Even cherished.

This is, in fact, programming.  Just like a TV network programs advertising.  When we see enough of any product over and over again — regardless of its humanitarian merits or lack thereof — we will eventually buy it.

Oh, there are lots of examples of this; take your pick.  But in the specific case of sugary foods, I think Western culture has clearly “bought” the advertising, and eating sweets has firmly become an important part of Us.  Don’t you dare try to take away the sweets, especially during the holidays!

It was never a fair fight.  Once sugar touched the taste buds of the first caveman dessert-eater, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and even meat quickly became red-headed stepchildren.  The first millionaire (of caveman currency, perhaps?) was probably the first guy who had the good sense to market sweet food.

His selling points?

  • It’s cheap.
  • It’s easy to keep and it’s portable.
  • It makes you feel good.

I’ll cut the cavemen and women some slack.  Although they probably noticed the spikes and valleys of their energy levels upon consuming sugar, they didn’t have the science to understand why.  But fast-forward to today.  We now build computer chips that fit on your pinky nail.  We have figured out how to plop a human being down on the surface of the moon and return him safely to Earth, and that was 40 years ago!  We can make virtual reality worlds in the forms of motion pictures and computer games, can transplant one person’s heart with that of another, can fly around the globe at supersonic speeds, and have created robotic vacuum cleaners that bump around our homes like near-sighted dogs while we watch football games on 70-inch, high-definition television sets.

But we’re still eating Cinnabons and drinking Dr. Peppers.

We’ve known — conclusively — for years that sugar encourages cancer.  That sugar makes us fat.  That sugar makes us diabetic.  That sugar makes us weak.  That sugar may ultimately ruin our quality of life.

We know all these things, yet we keep eating it.

I’m certainly not the smartest guy in this or any other room, and I don’t have the answers.  What I believe, though, is that real improvement in our culture of food is going to have to start one home at a time.  We are faced with an enemy that doesn’t fight fair and that has the full weight of public sentiment on his side, but revolutions begin with small uprisings, and small uprisings begin with brave choices made by moms and dads who are fed up.

Get fed up.  Think for yourself and cancel the programming.  Let go of destructive traditions and have the guts to start healthy ones.  Consider the health of your child as a 70-year-old rather than his or her’s happiness as a 4-year-old.

Do the right thing.

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6 Responses to “Sugar pushes buttons”

  1. Lynn Foster says:

    Interesting article, Mark. Certainly food (not SUGAR) for thought. My children are grown and gone as they say and I have noreal control in their lives but, I can at least say I gave them a foundation in regard to nutrition. I served them healthy snacks and fed them quality food and then, BAM, one by one they started entering school. Talk about peer pressure. Does anybody else ever think of sugar consumption as a source for peer pressure? “You don’t eat candy? What’s WRONG with you?” No kid wants to feel “different” from the other kids.I think it’s here to stay, Mark, but, with parents like you and Holly and awareness in articles like this…..there’s hope. Great work!

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Thanks, Lynn! You’re probably right; It’s most likely here to stay. At least throughout the foreseeable future. But who knows? If enough people get fed up and start speaking out, maybe a revolution could begin! Even if we save one child from obesity, it’s worth doing.

  2. Sam Johnson, son of Mark Johnson says:

    You’re right, Dad! It’s me, Sam, your son, and now that I think about it, you’re right. Starting tomorrow, I’m gonna get better stuff to eat. I’m pumped!

  3. Frances says:

    It is now 2014 and I just “found you.” This is thanks to my daughter, who earlier this year joined CrossFit and is changing her life one pound at a time, thank God – and CrossFit! She ran across your Reasons to Hate CrossFit, called me and read it to me, laughing so hard she could hardly speak, and me right along with her. Hilarious as the article is, she says, it is exactly the way she feels about CrossFit. Thank God, too, for people like you who are not afraid to speak the truth about what we (and not JUST in this country, unfortunately, though we have been at it longer and with more sheer determination), are shoving in our pie-holes (LOVE that expression!). Go and buy yourself a book called Salt, Sugar, Fat. You are already appalled; prepare to be not only horrified, but offended by what the food industry is doing to us – with malice aforethought. And please keep on writing; you are a breath of much-needed fresh air.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Wow, thanks for this comment, Frances. I’m honored that your daughter shared my Crossfit blog with you! And yes, I’ll read the book you’re referring to. As far as speaking the truth, I’m sure some people would disagree with you, but I mainly just try to make my wife laugh.

Let me hear from you!