What Is Your Opinion on White Sugar...

Updated on February 08, 2017
R.S. asks from Chicago, IL
23 answers

It seems there are a few different schools of thought on consuming refined sugar...
A. It's toxic for the body and should be avoided
B. Everything in moderation
C. Whatever....

We aim to eat as healthfully as possible, minimising processed foods and refined sugars and eating as close to the food source as possible. I try to reserve " sweet day" for once a week. The kids know fruits and veggies are for snacking on between meals. Generally, our "junk food" consists of dried fruit (yeh, i know, super high in sugar), nuts and seeds. I come from a family of bakers so I do bake muffins and other goodies. Even then, I sneak in ground flaxseed and usually reduce the sugar. I guess I'm overwhelmed with all the opinions out there about what is unhealthy. Sugar, dairy, wheat, even grains....I mean my goodness, it seems these days the list is endless of what is deemed "unhealthy". So Moms, what are you feeding your families generally, and where do you fall with regards to your opinion about sugar?

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answers from Los Angeles on

B -- everything in moderation. While sugar should be avoided for many reasons, I think it's better than artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm on the "B" and "C" trains...lol....


I try to avoid things like aspertame though. It makes my tongue itch. Found out it was in Jell-O and in "sugar free" jelly.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Jacksonville on

All things within moderation, generally speaking. That said, I try to avoid HFCS if there is a "real sugar" variety available in the junk item I'm looking at. I tend to avoid soda completely. Just plain water (or wine) ;)

The less processed the better for just about anything, as far as I am concerned. But that doesn't mean that any one food is completely verboten. We just consume them less if it's something we enjoy.

I also don't buy or use margarine. Real butter in our house. And I buy full fat everything (mayo, dressing, etc)... most things that are artificially "low fat" have lots of things added to make the texture seem more like the full fat version, but in the process add sugars or other things, and leave you less full as a result, so you eat more of it.

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answers from Washington DC on

it's a love/hate thing for me. i DO think it's toxic and should be avoided.....
but i don't.
the sugar in your dried fruit is NOT processed white sugar. i think that's a great snack.
my husband and i just quit artificial sweeteners. now my challenge is to not replace it with more sugar. i already eat too much candy, so it's a real issue for me.
i don't know that a 'sweet day' is a good idea, but your overall approach seems healthy and commonsense.
so my simple answer to your question is B.

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answers from Norfolk on

Well, (this is just my opinion) it's better for you than sugar substitutes - which are tough on your kidneys and confuse your metabolism.

That being said - I still wouldn't overdose on real sugar either.
One coke a week - a regular coke with real sugar - won't hurt you - but one a day or more often - whether it's a regular or diet/no calorie type - just isn't healthy.

The population as a whole are pretty much sugar addicts - so many things have high fructose corn syrup added to it - people don't realize how much sugar is in a lot of the things they eat.
Yoplait - I love it - I have one for lunch often when I'm in a rush - has 27 grams of sugar—more than five teaspoons! And at 170 calories, 108 of which come from sugar.
So even when you're trying to do better in eating 'healthy' - the sugar is still there.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

IMHO I believe that there is so much sugar worked into our food system to make it pleasurable that avoiding sugar is hard to do. While being cognizant of your sugar intake is the healthiest way to go, I think it's going to be a hard road to hoe once your kids are in elementary school and sitting around a lunch table with their friends who pack a 250 calorie pack of brownies in their lunch every single day and wash it down with a soda. To further undo whatever healthy eating habits you instill in your own kids, the schools sell ice cream and other snacks to anyone who will buy them.

I personally feel that you can try to limit the sugar in your kids diet, but once they're in school they're going to be exposed to all of the sugar, calorie laden foods that you tried so hard to avoid and they're going to want it.

Obviously I haven't figured out the answer.

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answers from San Francisco on

It's recently been shown that sugar is probably the most unhealthy thing we eat.

But I'm a believer in moderation. So try to minimize it, but don't torture yourself or your family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I come from a health food family. We had soy flour cookies. Yuk.

I have a sweet tooth. Always have. Moderation. I eat really healthily otherwise. So do my kids. We have treats but they are treats. They're a small percentage of our diet.

Yesterday I had a root beer. I loved it. But that's because I don't normally drink it.

I think sugar is yummy if you have it sparingly. I know kids who eat so much of it, they don't really taste it. It's their norm. Then I think it's a problem.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I believe sugar has its place. I will not make chocolate chip cookies, or a pie at Thanksgiving, or homemade ice cream with some kind of tofu or artificial sweetener. However, I will not make chocolate chip cookies every single day, or pies every weekend, or keep a constant supply of homemade ice cream in stock. I taught my kids when they were growing up that soda was not a beverage, to be served with meals. Sodas were for the occasional baseball game, or perhaps after a day of pulling weeds and mowing the grass.

Its alarming to see how much sugar is in the convenience food aisle. A friend of mine was complaining that her husband was gaining weight and had been told by his doctor that he was in danger of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Her husband told her that he was eating vegetables, and it turned out he was getting a potato salad (which, admittedly, has potatoes in it, and maybe a little celery) from a major grocery store chain, and having that at every lunch. I do a lot of food research on my own due to my dd's medical problems, and she asked me if that potato salad was a good idea. I was horrified, when I went to look at the label on it! It contained 14 lines of print to list all the ingredients, and there were FOUR separate sugars listed. The dry ranch dressing that the advertising tells us to include in burgers, and sprinkle on chicken, is full of sugar. Canned soups, bottled sauces and salad dressings, spaghetti sauce, yogurts with pretty colors: they're full of sugar.

I use organic pure maple syrup and raw local honey whenever possible, and in extreme moderation. I make my own salad dressings with herbs and red wine vinegar and olive oil, sometimes some fresh citrus, and I make a dry ranch dressing mix with no sugars at all. Same for taco seasoning (homemade), and sauces. For spaghetti, I often make a roasted tomato sauce, or a homemade marinara sauce. Alfredo sauce is simply real butter, real Parmigiano cheese, and some cream. And by using better ingredients, we can use less. A tiny bit of real Parmigiano goes so much further than a whole handful of the stuff in the green can.

We don't allow any artificial sweeteners (Splenda, sorbitol, erythritol, Nutrasweet) in the house, mostly because it really aggravates my dd's digestive system. We also try to avoid any foods with xanthan gums and carrageenan.

So, bottom line: sugar (white and/or brown) are always going in my chocolate chip cookies and cakes and ice creams, but those items are not everyday desserts after every supper. Soda is ok at ball parks and stadiums and circuses, but those kinds of outings aren't routine: they're special occasions. Packaged processed foods and seasoning packets and foods that come from boxes and cans are not ok, except for convenience on the occasional camping trip or hike. Sugar is ok, but it doesn't belong in spaghetti sauces and Italian salad dressing and in chicken soups and savory foods.

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answers from Chicago on

B. sugar is awesome! It lets you make super yummy baked goods. We try to avoid processed foods to keep our sugar and sodium down.

I don't count natural sugars as sugar either.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Mostly B. A little bit of C.

I do look at labels and if I can avoid high fructose corn syrup, I do. If it's a choice among HFCS, an artificial sweetener, and sugar, I choose the product with sugar. But I don't understand why some foods have either. For example, why does applesauce need anything but apples in it? It's sweet enough. So I pay attention and try to choose wisely, but I don't have time to cook everything from scratch and I don't change our whole diet trying to avoid sugar.

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answers from Orlando on

Sugar is actually a drug, like caffeine, it is OK in moderation.

We use non-GMO raw sugar when needed (baking, coffee, etc.).

It's hard to avoid sugar when it is used in almost all processed foods, anything you didn't make from scratch probably has sugar in it, it is usually labeled as high fructose corn syrup. Just read the labels.

Dried fruit is not "junk food" it is a healthy snack along with regular fruit and veggies, just eat them in moderation. I don't think there is anyway to avoid sugar all together and that's OK, it is best in its natural form and gives us a boost when we need it.

Also, the best natural sweetener is honey, but it doesn't always work well with baking, etc..

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answers from Portland on

Honestly, there is so much one should or shouldn't do and the fact is, we are all going to die at some point. So, I just use common sense.

We have turbinado sugar at our home. I have two teaspoons a day in my tea. My tea is part of my morning ritual. I am not going to beat myself up over it.

I don't believe in 'everything' in moderation, but I do allow treats on a daily basis. Small stuff. This could be a piece or two of the Halloween candy, a dish of ice cream,-- his favorite is a root beer float made with stevia-sweetened soda that has no colors. As long as he's had some exercise and eaten fairly well for the day, I'm not going to sweat over it. Yesterday he asked for a treat (a smoothie pop, we make them at home), I told him to have some peas or a carrot first. No problem. I'm trying to create the limitations by not bringing unwelcome items into the house in the first place so there's no argument over it..

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answers from Kansas City on

I'm totally "B". I don't even really count natural sugars found in fruits and my kids don't drink juice or smoothies, or really even eat dried fruit...I'm lucky if I can get my son to eat any fruit at all!

I feel better giving my kids sugar in things I bake, even if it's cookies or cake, because I know all the ingredients I used were pure ingredients with no preservatives, etc. But, they do eat store bought cookies and things sometimes.

Generally I try and stay away from Hostess cake type things because those are just complete junk, but they have occasionally made their way into our house at certain times of the year. I also avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, which I know has arguments on both sides, but I think it's awful and won't buy any treats or ice cream that have it in it.

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answers from Boston on

Everyone handles sugar differently. Some people can eat it in moderation (or even to excess) and be fine. If you struggle to maintain a healthy weight, deal with mood swings or highs and lows in energy, have signs of or a family history of heart disease or diabetes, have inflammatory symptoms like joint or muscle pain, digestive issues, etc. then cutting sugar would be a good idea. For many people, it's addictive and inflammatory and causes issues with leptin, insulin and other hormones.

We had no added sugar for about 5 years when I was growing up. It was suspected back then that it could contribute to a neurological issue that one of my siblings had and if he couldn't eat sugar, none of us could. Once it was clear that there wasn't a link, sugar crept back into our diets and my days of being a remarkably slender child were over. For me, sugar is clearly a problem and I try to avoid it, keeping my intake to less than 25 grams a day, even from natural sources like fruit.

I do try for a more moderate approach with my kids so that they don't crave it or binge on it. We don't have soda at home except for parties and really the only added sugar that they have regularly is in dessert foods like ice cream (one serving a day allowed) and in some yogurt smoothies that I keep on hand in case they need something quick and light to have for breakfast before a really early hockey game (as in leave the house before 6 AM and are half asleep). They sometimes get candy when we're out and about or if they go to the corner store near their baby-sitter's house after school, and they sometimes buy a cookie or other treat at lunch. They rarely drink juice and don't drink sugary sports drinks, For 3 of my 4 kids, this has worked out well - they are very slender and don't go crazy for treats. I can have a pan of brownies or a batch of cookies in the house for a week and they won't eat it (I will though!). None of them like frosting or really even like cake. One, unfortunately, is overweight and I've been trying to get him to make better choices. He doesn't eat any worse than his siblings, but he's the unlucky one who can't just eat whatever he wants whenever he's hungry and metabolize it well.

So if it's not an issue, then I think a good default approach is everything in moderation. You don't want it to be something powerful that your kids crave and have a problem relationship with. If it's causing health and weight issues, though, then there are a lot of benefits from cutting back severely - it's hard, but worth it to feel better and be healthier.

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answers from Miami on

I am more into the "B" field, as long as you're healthy and can process the sugar without issues (no diabetes, for example) and you look at the carbohydrates in the products you consume and limit yourself. Tomato sauce, for example, is loaded with sugar, and jams and jellies have tons of HFCS which they say is causing an obesity epidemic. People wrongly assume that they can have a large piece of cake because that is the only dessert they had all day and they ate "healthy" by staying away from fried chicken, processed meals, and greasy side dishes -- except their salad dressing was full of sugar, their yogurt with fruit on the bottom was full of sugar, as was the chicken parm's tomato sauce, and of course, the carbs that come from the pasta. Now, you have gone over your daily recommended amount of carbs and have not even accounted for the carbs in the cake...or the fact you're sitting for 8 hours a day on your butt, being inactive. Not so healthy anymore, is it? This hidden sugar thing was something I was completely unaware of until recently, when I was given a booklet on nutrition.

I have insulin resistance, so I have no choice but to have the artificial sweeteners. My endocrinologist believes in a very low glycemic diet, and when having issues such as mine, to depend on artificial sweeteners for sweetening tea or desserts. Artificial sweeteners don't raise my blood glucose or insulin levels, which is why they are the choice for diabetics or pre-diabetics. A healthy person can eat foods with sugars and carbs without worrying about spikes in insulin levels, but again, watching the amount they put into their body daily, and not going wild. Same applies to people with high blood pressure -- they need to watch their sodium intake more carefully than the rest of us, but the rest of us would do well to monitor and control our sodium intake because as we age, we may end up with hypertension too, so it's not a good idea to go wild and eat all these salty foods. Another thing this applies to is alcohol. Go wild and get drunk daily, and see what ends up happening. Sooner or later, your health WILL catch up with you and you'll pay the consequences.

The jury is still out as to whether artificial sweeteners are really as bad for you as they thought and I guess that between those and getting diabetes that may require daily shots (my dad had those, not fun or sexy to have black and blue bruises all over your torso), I will stick to the sweeteners. I'm not going to judge anyone who uses artificial sugar versus refined sugars, versus brown sugar, versus cane sugar, etc. and hope no one feels the need to do the same to me. You do you, I do me. Your body, your health, your life, your own circumstances, your choice. I do want to make you aware, however, that the white sugar you think is so safe and pure is actually bleached with chemicals, so it's not really any better than the sweeteners and is just as unnatural, if you want to get technical...

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answers from Washington DC on

I believe (A).
We live closer to (B).
Some days I just say, "screw it" and it's a (C) day.
Not sure if that makes me a hypocrite or human?

On a side note, you just can't win!! I have been adding flaxseed to my diet every day for years. Guess what I just read from Marla Heller, MS, RD? She wrote a couple of the DASH Diet books. DASH has been ranked #1 for a while and is easy so I tend to look at it as a healthy way to eat. In her latest book she says that flaxseed and flaxseed oils should be avoided because they are "very susceptible to oxidation either during storage or in your body that will generate free radicals and can trigger chronic inflammation." Like I said you just can't win!!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

We don't absolutely avoid anything.
Mr. Fuzzy has a sweet tooth, and has found that he actually prefers vanilla Greek yogurt with fresh berries in it to ice cream. So that's our go-to sweet.
We eat mostly "good" foods cooked from scratch, but if a package of Oreos jumps into my shopping cart, it's not the end of the world.

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answers from Dallas on

I believe in moderation.

My family does not and never really had a "sweet tooth" so it's never been s huge issue for us. We do not drink sodas at all and haven't in many years. Of course we may occasionally taste a dessert but it's rare.

Our drink of choice is fruit infused water and I drink unsweet iced tea as well. When people see me, I always have my water with me with various fruits in it. My favorite is lemon.

I do believe sugar is much better for you than the sugar substitutes on the market.

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answers from Dallas on

If you are going to use sugar at all go raw/organic. That's what I use...taste better and I don't seem to have to use as much to sweeten things. But we rarely make sweets for my kids because of school and how they have access to too many sweets. We don't even give them juice regularly because of all of the sugar in it. The school however, gives my 6 year old tons of juice and it makes me so mad. But I was told without a doctors note they will keep giving it to her.....no parents rights I guess. My children drink strictly water and I let them have real fruit as snacks as well. Once and a whIle though we let them have some sweet treats. I have a yonana machine that you can make "ice cream" from bananas. So they think they are really getting ice cream lol


answers from Springfield on

hubbs would say A.. i think C so we usually meet in the middle and we are somewhere in B sugar is used/ consumed in moderation.



answers from New York on

My husband has been diagnosed with Diabetes so sugar is particularly dangerous for him. He is of the B mindset. It doesn't really work for his health issues though when he doesn't realize what moderation even looks like or should be within his body. I'm leaning towards the A and truly try to limit the hidden white sugars and seen white sugars. We also switched over to brown sugar and will be trying Stevia soon but I understand for my husband we just have to be more cautious because of how it impacts his body.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Everything is unhealthy if you listen to the media that wants to sell you something different. In daycare we go by the food pyramid. These pyramids are made by experts in the field.

A serving of juice is 4 ounces. How many of us pour out a tea glass full of OJ with our breakfast. That's like 6 servings of juice.

A fruit serving is 1/4 to 1/2 cup. That means HALF A BANANA is a serving of fruit. Fruit snacks, a small handful is more than a serving.

A serving of veggie is 1/2 cup.

I encourage everyone to read up on the food pyramid and start using a measuring cup to serve your meals and then see what your plates look like afterwards. This will give you a visual that you can see and then you will start doing smaller servings.

Also, when you do a recipe they are talking adult servings. If you are making something that is 4 servings and it's for you, hubby, and a preschool kiddo and a toddler kiddo you should have at least one serving left over. Unless someone is overeating.

A toddler/preschool age child meal is going to be about half what a school age child meal will be and that older kid's meal will be much smaller than an adult meal serving size.

We don't have any real idea of how much a serving is unless we research it and use measuring cups to educate ourselves.

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