Sugar, Say What?

I attended a pool party recently and decided, as I usually do, to partake in an alcoholic beverage or two.

My drink of choice on this particular day was a frozen strawberry daiquiri. I mean why not?! I was kicking off summer and what better way to get things started than with a frozen glass of goodness?

I sipped. I chatted. I laughed. I sipped some more.

Everything was hunky-dory until I started to feel bone-tired exhausted. I mean, fall-down-the-steps-after-running-a-marathon kind of tired. It all happened about 45 minutes after I finished my daiquiri.

There wasn’t anything alarming about this feeling. I’m intimately familiar with fatigue as a busy working mother. I just felt like I needed to put on my pajamas and curl up in my bed for a solid hour to keep functioning at the party.

But it was five o’clock, the sun was still out, and that didn’t seem likely.

So, I fought through the fatigue, put on some shades, switched to a vodka soda and got on with my life.

Later in the night while standing next to the bar chatting with a friend, I noticed the bottle of strawberry daiquiri mixer was within arm’s reach. You know, the bottle that looks like someone took your mother’s old jar of strawberry jam, combined it with three five-pound bags of sugar and mixed it up in a blender?

Yeah, that one.

I grabbed the bottle and turned it around to look at the ingredients. Just for fun.

I knew, full well, that the story wasn’t going to end well. Looking at an ingredient label on a product like that is like trying to fit into the wedding dress wrapped in plastic in your attic. You know you’re going to end up in a puddle of tears, but you just can’t resist the temptation.

I read the label, and the only phrase I could muster up was, “Holy Mary, Mother of God.”

The suggested serving size for the daiquiri mix (which is grossly underestimated on every product) is stated to be 4 ounces. And, here’s the zinger, 4 ounces of that product contains 49 grams of sugar.

Now, “grams of sugar” can be a difficult measurement to grasp. Is that a lot? A little? Who knows? Who cares?

Well, this is what 49 grams of sugar looks like.

Seems like a lot, right?

And the 49 grams assumes that the bartender only uses 4 ounces of the product in your drink. I don’t know about you, but when I watch bartenders make strawberry daiquiris, that mixer bottle stays upside down way too long to only be pouring out 4 ounces of liquid.

Way too long.

So, let’s do the math. Let’s say it’s a hot summer night, you’re at a pool party hanging out with your friends, and your bartender mixes your rum with 8 ounces (instead of 4) of daiquiri or piña colada mix. I don’t know about you, but I’m rarely a one-drink girl, so let’s say you have two of these drinks.

That quickly gets you to forty-eight spoons of sugar. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen…you get the point.

After I had drunk only one strawberry daiquiri at the pool party, I felt like I’d been shot with an elephant tranquilizer. If I’d had two, I probably would have gone into a coma.

OK, so at this point you’re thinking, well that’s an isolated example of a sugary alcoholic drink at a cocktail party. Low-hanging fruit.


See the green tea in this picture from Panera? Seems like a great, healthy choice to go with your healthy lunch, right?

That’s a very logical assumption. It’s green tea for God’s sake. But, similar to the strawberry daiquiri mix, one serving contains 47 grams, or 12 teaspoons, of sugar.

That’s insane.

Here’s a handy, dandy (or terrifying) formula for putting sugar into context. 4 grams = 1 teaspoon.

I’m no hard-nosed nutritionist. Trust me when I tell you that I eat my fair share of cotton candy, ice cream, and sour patch kids. I was, however, forced to pay attention to my sugar intake during both of my pregnancies because I had gestational diabetes.

And it’s a habit that I’ve tried to maintain. Until, of course, I completely forgot at that pool party the other night.

Do I still eat both Twix bars when I know it’s better to eat just one? Damn right I do. I don’t mind eating sugar for dessert, but I do try to avoid drinking it.

Oprah taught me that. Don’t drink your sugar.

For adults, the World Health Organization recommends a daily sugar intake of 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. I don’t know a single human being who adheres to that rule.

But this human being is going back to my own rule of not drinking my sugar.

Vodka Soda, it is.

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