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Which State Has the Biggest Sweet Tooth? Hint: For Many, Candy Is the Only ‘Allowed Indulgence’

Which State Has the Biggest Sweet Tooth? Hint: For Many, Candy Is the Only ‘Allowed Indulgence’


This group makes Utah the candy consumption capital of America

Twizzlers are particularly popular in the state capital.

In its efforts to gather data on American candy consumption, The Hershey Company found that one state in particular consumes twice as much candy as the national average. Who are these major candy consumers? Mormons.

Approximately 62 percent of Utah residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and must abide by the restrictions on tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, coffee, and tea.

Candy, however, is fair game.

“We don’t drink alcohol, we don’t smoke, we avoid coffee — but we certainly do sugar,” Glenn Christensen, a marketing professor at Brigham Young University, told Bloomberg. “It’s the only allowed indulgence.” At church events and family gatherings, candy can be found in abundance.

Twizzlers, by the way, perform particularly well in the Salt Lake City area.


The Untold Truth Of The Senate Candy Desk

Almost every office has a spot where people gather together and share food. Sometimes you might find freshly baked cookies or a box of Munchkins from the local Dunkin' in these spots, but most of the time the snack being shared is candy. It might be bite-sized candy bars, hard fruit-flavored discs, cinnamon drops, M&M's, or jelly beans. Whatever candy it is that's being offered, if you're lucky, the keeper of that communal candy bowl ensures it is always well-stocked so you always know where to go when you need that 3:00 p.m. sugar jolt.

Turns out the U.S. Senate chamber in our nation's capital is just like your office, as Senators can munch on free candy all day, too. Only, instead of grabbing their candy from a candy bowl, they have a fabled "candy desk" with a long and storied past going back more than 50 years.

And just like the candy bowls we all know from our own workplaces, it's in a high traffic area and always packed full of candy that's free for the taking. Whether Senators are listening to hour-long hearings, passing time during filibusters, or sweating the fate of the nation in impeachment hearings, the Senate candy desk is always the go-to spot for a quick burst of sugar powered energy.


Mormon vice: Utah buys more candy than any other state

Variety of candy in a store.

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) While many Utahns have the willpower to avoid alcohol, coffee and tobacco, they just can’t stay away from the candy.

The state buys confections — candy, mints, gum — at the highest rate in the nation, according to sales data from The Hershey Co.

Residents of the Beehive State are especially fond of Hershey’s licorice Twizzlers, said Lisha Bassett, sales manager for Hershey’s Salt Lake City District, which includes all of Utah and parts of Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.

The red-colored variety is the favorite, she said, but chocolate also is “incredibly popular in our market, which is unique.”

Confections are a multibillion-dollar U.S. industry, generating $17 billion to $18 billion in sales each year, said Bob Goodpaster, Hershey’s chief global knowledge officer.

Nationally, about $15,000 worth of candy is sold for every $1 million of total grocery sales, he said.

In Utah, however, $23,000 worth of candy is sold for every $1 million in total grocery sales. That’s the country’s highest percentage, basically making Utah the nation’s sweet-tooth capital.

The Hershey Pennsylvania District — where the national candy company is headquartered — runs neck and neck with Utah, but still takes second place, said Goodpaster. The figures were calculated using 12-month sales data from June 2013 to June 2014.

Glenn Christensen, a marketing professor at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management, has a theory about what drives Utah’s candy sales.

More than 60 percent of Utahns are Mormons, who typically abstain from alcohol, coffee and tobacco. With those vices frowned upon, candy is an acceptable treat, he said, Sweets are ubiquitous at family gatherings and LDS events.

“We don’t drink alcohol, we don’t smoke, we avoid coffee — but we certainly do sugar,” Christensen said. “It’s the only allowed indulgence.”

Utah also has a large population of children — candy’s biggest fans. In 2013, 31 percent of the state’s residents were under 18, while the national average was 23 percent.

Hershey has been taking a closer look at its sales statistics and using them as a guide to “help us determine what to put on the shelf and what to promote” in various parts of the country, Goodpaster said.

Other statistical quirks unearthed by Hershey researchers:

  • Customers in Minnesota buy six-packs of Hershey bars at higher rates than any other Americans, particularly in the summer. The reason: s’mores.
  • Latinos like Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme bars in disproportionate numbers.

(Kathy Stephenson writes for The Salt Lake Tribune. Bloomberg News contributed to this story.)


Let Them Eat Cake! 120+ Delicious Cake Quotes That Are Sweet As Sugar

There’s something really special about cake. Whether it’s one you’re making from scratch for a birthday party full of kindergartners (good luck!), or yet another slice of unicorn cake marking a celebration, or even just a piece smuggled in between Netflix and chilling. The universal truth is that cake is bae.

Cake was there for you when no one else was. It was sweet and warm and took your mind away from the troubles of the world. Many literary greats, intellectuals, and celebrities have acknowledged the importance and beauty of this baked good. So we’ve collected a bunch of quotes that will remind you of the value of this sugary treat. They might even inspire you to bake one yourself.

With that in mind, here are 101 cake quotes that celebrate everyone’s favorite dessert.

Interested in more sweet and creative content? We can help you build diaper cakes , Halloween cakes , and more.

  1. “Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people it does for me.” — Audrey Hepburn
  2. “A lot of movies are about life, mine are like a slice of cake.” — Alfred Hitchcock
  3. “Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories.” — Buddy Valastro
  4. “Freedom is not to be bound by my wounds. And to be able to eat cake every day.” — Amanda de Cadenet
  5. “I love eating chocolate cake and ice cream after a show. I almost justify it in my mind as, ‘You were a good boy onstage, and you did your show, so now you can have some cake and ice cream.’” — Steven Wright
  6. “A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges.” — Benjamin Franklin
  7. “In my experience, entrepreneurship tends to be kind of cumulative, like a layer cake. Taking some time away can make it hard to rev up.” — Andrew Yang
  8. “If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.” — Elon Musk
  9. “All I ever wanted to do with my life was own a little house. I did that way back with ‘Rocky,’ so now everything I do is just icing on the cake.” — Mr. T
  10. “You know you’re getting old when you get that one candle on the cake. It’s like, ‘See if you can blow this out.'” — Jerry Seinfeld
  11. “Because the sweeter the cake, the more bitter the jelly can be.” — Lady Gaga
  12. “You have to have really wide reading habits and pay attention to the news and just everything that’s going on in the world: You need to. If you get this right, then the writing is a piece of cake.” — Terry Pratchett
  13. “Would ye both eat your cake and have your cake?” — John Heywood
  14. “I don’t really cook much. I’m more of a baker. My favorite things to bake that everybody loves, and I can only keep in the house for about 10 minutes, are 7UP cake and pineapple upside-down cake.” — Jada Pinkett Smith
  15. “The most dangerous food is wedding cake.” — James Thurber
  16. “All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.” — George Harrison
  17. “I want people to fall in love with themselves and to be really proud and full of joy for the space they take up. If someone else appreciates the space you take up, then that’s icing on the cake.” — Jonathan Van Ness
  18. “My music is like a baby-pink frosted cake with sprinkles, but when you cut into it, there’s a gooey, dark chocolate center.” — Melanie Martinez
  19. “I could be hit by a Sara Lee truck tomorrow. Which is not a bad way of going: ‘Richard Simmons Found in a Freeway in Pound Cake and Fudge, With a Smile on His Face.’ Let’s face it. We don’t know anything.” — Richard Simmons
  20. “Music’s been around a long time, and there’s going to be music long after Ray Charles is dead. I just want to make my mark, leave something musically good behind. If it’s a big record, that’s the frosting on the cake, but music’s the main meal.” — Ray Charles


4 Tricks to Kick Your Candy Cravings to the Curb

You've probably already faced your share of tempting bite-size candies and seasonal desserts over the past few weeks, but tomorrow is the day that candy will find its way into your home, office or Halloween party venue (if it hasn't already).

So how are you going to avoid the temptation? How can you stop yourself from eating too many of those cute little treats before it's too late? Good questions. I have a big sweet tooth myself. I love candy, desserts and sweets—I am only human. But I do try to make healthful choices about what I eat and enjoy treats within moderation, which usually means turning them down more often than I eat them. It isn't always easy, but it IS possible. So here are some of my very own tricks to prevent overeating on Halloween candy—and kick those cravings for good!

Freshen Up
This is an age-old tip to prevent mindless eating and overeating, but it really does work. Brushing your teeth frequently (or chewing a strong, minty gum) makes all sorts of foods—including candy—unpalatable. Just think about drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth in the morning…not tasty. When candy is around, arm yourself with minty fresh breath. It's a lot easier to say not to treats when you don't want to disrupt that fresh, clean flavor in your mouth. This trick can also work if you find yourself losing control of your cravings. For example, if you ate one or two pieces of candy and find yourself uncontrollably reaching for another, stop that cycle by brushing your teeth before you think about taking another bite.

Don't Have Just One
I know this is going to make me sound like a food control freak, but hang with me here. When faced with a dishful of tiny treats (or any other food temptation), what's easier: Not eating the food at all OR eating one bite and then stopping? Really think about your habits and eating history. For me—and I think most people—eating some and then stopping is much, much harder than just turning it down completely. After all, who can stop after just one bite, lick or taste when more food is still right there in front of you? I find that it's way harder to stop once you get going, especially if you have any emotional or mindless eating tendencies. Remember this next time you're faced with Halloween treats and think, "I'll have just one." If you can't really trust yourself to stop, then don't even start.

Distract Yourself
When it comes to treats, we usually don't even know we "want" them until we see them. It's not that we're craving candy corn or Twizzlers all day every day. But when you see them in the office candy jar or on the end cap at Target, well, you remember how good they are and then you think you want them. Out of sight, out of mind. Don't even go to the Halloween section of the store—even if you know it's 75% off today. Bypass the candy aisle and keep your gaze on the tabloid magazines when in the checkout line. If the office candy jar is calling your name, choose another route and walk around it or divert your gaze to look away from it. If someone brings in pumpkin doughnuts to the office today, avoid stopping in the kitchen or by their desk until it's likely that every other person has done it before you (and eaten them all up). If you're faced with a craving that you feel like you're obsessing over, try a 10-minute distraction technique. Go for a walk, answer some of those emails that have been in your inbox for days, or play a simple mind game on your iPhone. Anything you can do to take your mind off the food will certainly help you remain in control.

Choose Wisely, Eat Mindfully
It's not realistic to turn down every treat or temptation—and no one should have to! Holidays are fun and so are the foods that come with them. The above techniques will work well if you're trying to stick with your healthy eating plan or control your calories. But sometimes, it's best to just give in and enjoy a little fun. When you consciously choose to enjoy a treat, first, choose wisely. Pick your absolute favorite. Save your calories for the treat that will be most worthwhile to you (and use the tricks above for avoid foods that aren't really worth the calories). Don't waste your calories on candies you don't really love just because they're around. When you're ready to eat, do so without distraction. Focus on that treat. Notice how it feels in your mouth, its texture and its flavor. Eat slowly and mindfully. The more you can really focus on the treat of your choice, without distraction, the more satisfied you with feel, and the more in-control you will remain. When you take the time to really taste and enjoy something, you won't feel the need to keep eating more, and you'll kick those cravings to the curb before you've gone overboard.

Do any of these four techniques help you stay in control around Halloween treats (or other temptations)? How do YOU enjoy treats without going overboard?


Setting Up the Buffet

In her experiments, Eckel first monitored a group of rats' regular eating patterns when they got a standard diet. No exercise was allowed in this part of the study.

Then, she gave them a standard diet as well as sweetened condensed milk -- an ingredient in many desserts and known to be favored by rats, too.

Both male and female rats lapped up the milk. However, the female rats gobbled more milk, getting 35% more calories, compared with the males' 10% to 15% more calories. The rats also gained weight -- 30% gain for females, 10% for males.

When allowed to exercise, both male and female rats cut back on overeating. Male rats cut back to their original intake. However, female rats cut back only about 20%.

Also, male rats jumped back into their regular exercise schedule. "But female rats did not -- even though female rats are known to be much more active than male rats," says Eckel.


What Happened When I Gave Up Sugar For Three Weeks (And How You Can, Too)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a sugar junkie.

I probably got this trait from my dad, who can make half a pan of brownies disappear in a day.

I can devour a pack of sour candies in 30 minutes flat, or pop 10 Hershey’s Kisses into my mouth without batting an eye.

I love healthy and nutritious foods and eat a salad almost every day for lunch, but my self-control is non-existent when it comes to baked goods, candy, and ice cream.

Unfortunately, a tendency to over-indulge in sugar can lead to health issues, so at the beginning of the new year, I decided to really embrace a healthy lifestyle and ditch sugar for a week. Hey, anyone can go a week without sugar, right?!

But Denis Faye, Beachbody’s Executive Director of Nutrition, immediately (and, I should point out, enthusiastically) increased my sugar timeout to three weeks. I regretted ever mentioning the idea.

Regardless, I let him explain how to rid a life of the joys of sugar and I drafted a set of rules to follow over the course of those three weeks.

Here’s how I, a hopeless sugar addict, gave up added sugar — and how you can do it, too.

No added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and no alcohol.

First, I had to figure out what in my diet had to go.

For three weeks, I wouldn’t add honey to my overnight oats, I would make my own salad dressing instead of buying the processed sugar-filled kinds from the store, and I would drink plain black coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up instead of a handful of chocolate chips.

I swapped out my vanilla almond milk for the unsweetened version, and I chose plain Greek yogurt instead of a flavored kind.

My options to satisfy my sweet tooth began and ended with fruit. “What joy,” muttered my inner chocoholic.

In addition to added sugar, artificial sweeteners also went on the no-eat list. “You don’t absorb artificial sweeteners the same as natural sugar, and they don’t have any calories, but they’re weird chemicals and they put your palate off,” explained Faye.

Many experts don’t count stevia as an artificial sweetener given it comes from a natural source.

“That’s sound logic,” Faye added, “but if you’re trying to ‘reboot’ your taste buds, you might as well skip it, too.”

I was interested to see if my sweet tooth would change by not eating added or artificial sugar, so I opted to remove all forms of sweetener for this experiment.

And finally, alcohol. A moderate amount of red wine is permitted in “The Sugar Detox“ plan, thanks to the fact that it contains the antioxidant resveratrol.

But it does contain a lot of sugar and it lowers your inhibitions, which would make it that much harder for me to resist a sugary snack. It looked like I’d have to find another way to consume my grapes.

Of course, just because I was giving up added sugar for a few weeks didn’t mean I had to walk away from it forever.

“Sugar can be useful at times, particularly if you’re an endurance athlete trying to manage glycogen,” Faye said. “Also, it can be an ingredient in perfectly healthy recipes. The key is moderation.”

Since moderation is clearly what I lack when it comes to sugar, I decided it was best to start from zero — which is exactly what I set out to do.

The first week was incredible. The second week I wanted to quit. And, the third week I questioned everything about life.

After reading “The Sugar Detox” and 󈫺-Day Detox Diet,” I decided to go cold turkey starting January 1.

Unfortunately, I just had baked 40 cupcakes for an eight-person New Year’s Eve party. So, on day one of my three weeks without sugar, I was surrounded with about two dozen cupcakes. Not the easiest way to start.

Some people claim to gain a heap of energy when they wean themselves off sugar. I was not one of those people. I did experience a more even energy level, void of extreme highs and subsequent crashes, which is the normal rollercoaster I ride when I eat all the sugar I please.

This made me feel great during the first week, but after the honeymoon phase, my cravings took over my brain. This was partially due to the fact that I was extremely tired, and it was difficult to fight off my desire for cookies and also the temptation to fall asleep at my desk.

I had to make a conscious effort to choose plain black coffee instead of a pack of peach rings. It was harder to plan out all my meals, but I did it anyway. Otherwise, I’d be scrambling to find something without a sugary sauce from the food trucks lurking outside.

Despite my exhausted willpower, I survived the second week, and, surprisingly, entered the homestretch of this treacherous experiment with a new kind of motivation. I had yet to give up, and I had proven to myself that I could actually do this thing!

Although my sweet tooth still wouldn’t grant me a reprieve in the final week, I had tamed it. Overnight oats sweetened only by blueberries tasted like a treat. Water infused with watermelon sustained me through a rough afternoon.

Was I really turning into one of those people who found fulfillment in eating nature’s candy? I felt good about eating clean food, I was happy with how my body looked, and I was thrilled that I wasn’t experiencing post-candy crashes. Huh.

Simply by removing sugar from my diet, I lost three pounds in three weeks. That might not sound remarkable, but my weight has been extremely consistent for the past five years, and I was astonished to see different numbers on the scale.

I also had visible abs. Three weeks without sugar meant three weeks of a flat, defined stomach. Dare I say I loved that more than a cookie?

One physical effect I was anticipating was a change in my complexion. I had been warned that my face might break out when it was freed from the confines of sugar (the whole, “it has to get worse before it gets better” deal).

Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Instead, my skin actually got less oily.

The first weekend after the sugar ban was lifted, I ate everything. Fries smothered in ketchup, greasy Chinese takeout, waffles, mimosas, and more. I loved it…until I experienced a mountainous sugar crash and my face broke out.

Within 36 hours of eating sugar again, my face had gone from clear and clean to oily, breakout central.

As I was assessing my complexion, I had an epiphany. What if I could enjoy sweets in moderation? A novel idea, right?

As much as I missed eating whatever I pleased, I hated the bloated, groggy feeling that came with over-indulging in sugary foods, not to mention the giant zit that decided to call my chin home.

I also realized that I really didn’t enjoy eating every kind of sweet. I didn’t care for cheap chocolate or the processed store-bought cookies anymore. My taste buds really had become more discerning.

After three weeks without sugar, I had lost weight, gained energy, and refined my palate. I also spent significantly less money on food and drinks. I guess that’s what happens when you pass on wine and chocolate-covered candies.

Am I going to continue on this sugar-free crusade? Absolutely not. But I am going to continue some of the habits I created. I like my homemade salad dressings, I now prefer a cup of black coffee in the afternoon to chocolate, and fruit for dessert doesn’t sound as blasphemous as it once did.

I don’t think I could permanently say goodbye to my beloved chocolate cupcakes, but I’ve gained a much better understanding of moderation and quality.

Are you ready to give it a try? Here are 7 tips to help you give up sugar, inspired by what I learned through the experience.

1. Purge your kitchen, home, and workspace of sugar before you begin.

I learned this the hard way with those cupcakes. But over that weekend, I got rid of anything that could (and would) tempt me during my three sugar-free weeks.

This proved to be the most important act of defense. If it wasn’t there, I wasn’t going to eat it.

2. Get a support system, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

It’s a lot harder to cheat on your diet when your friends throw you shade when you reach for something sweet. A good support system can strengthen your willpower when you feel it dwindling.

Even if you think your friends won’t take your commitment seriously, give them a chance before writing them off. By the end of my three weeks, my friends, family, and coworkers were genuinely interested in how I was doing with my no-sugar diet. (Yes, even my brownie-loving dad.)

They wanted to know what foods I was and was not eating, and what physical and mental changes I was experiencing. It became an educational experience for everyone.

3. Set a time frame.

Knowing I only had to hold out on eating sugar for three weeks made the task attainable and gave me a definitive finish line.

4. Learn what you can (and cannot) eat.

This seems obvious, but learn what sugar is, because it hides under a lot of names. My first trip to the grocery store was twice as long as usual because I looked at every single label, and looked up every single ingredient I didn’t know.

This thing called “dextrose” in my favorite hummus? Sugar. The rice that’s used to make sushi? It has sugar in it.

Knowing what to look for, and knowing what products tend to have sugar in them can save a lot of time and confusion.

It was also challenging to eat out since I couldn’t look at an ingredient list for every menu item.

Did the hamburger buns have sugar in them? Maybe. What exactly is in that special sauce? No idea. Instead of becoming a hermit for three weeks, I maintained a normal social schedule and challenged myself to find sugar-free items on the menu.

My go-to option became a burger or chicken sandwich, hold the bun and add a side salad. As for the dressing situation, I asked for balsamic vinaigrette on the side.

Most balsamic vinaigrettes don’t have sugar, but I used it sparingly to make the damage as minimal as possible in case it did.

5. Prep yourself for success.

Make sure you always have sugar-free foods at the ready. One weekend, my friends and I went on a road trip and they brought chips and Pop-Tarts for the ride.

I was hungry and irritable for the whole drive because there wasn’t anything I could eat. Had I brought my own snacks, it would have been a non-issue.

Getting enough sleep is also really important. When my energy was drained, so was my willpower. It was exhausting to fight off my cravings when I was also fighting to stay awake. And that’s when I needed to…

6. Know how to cheat

If I were perfect, I would have gone three weeks without added sugar, artificial sweetener, or alcohol. Shockingly, I am not. I had a few bites of dark chocolate one night and some wine another evening.

I also indulged in Shakeology a few times, even though it does have some stevia in it. But I chose my cheats carefully. I ate dark chocolate because it was allowed in week three of “The Sugar Detox,” and studies have shown that dark chocolate can be good for your health.

My chocolate craving was satisfied much faster than usual, so I really didn’t eat that much of it. Shakeology tasted amazing, as per usual, but I noticed that it was pretty sweet compared to the other foods I was eating.

As for the wine, I did feel quite giddy after just one glass. This indulgence didn’t dramatically change the course of my no-sugar diet, but it definitely could have.

No matter how much you drink, alcohol impairs your judgment. And when you’re already craving that chocolate chip cookie, a glass wine might convince you that it’s okay to eat one. Or two. And a scoop of ice cream.

7. Fruit is your best friend. Really.

As a devoted sugar consumer, I laughed when people told me that fruit was satisfying dessert.

One year, my family gave me a birthday cake with fruit and a Cool Whip topping instead of a heap of buttercream and I thought it was a joke.

I was thankful for the effort and graciously enjoyed it, but I absolutely followed it up with a chocolate bar. So when I had to substitute my desserts for fruit, I thought it would be the end of me…but I was wrong.

When fruit is the only sweet thing you eat, it tastes really sweet. I couldn’t believe it. But watermelon and fresh berries became my candy during those three weeks, and I would gladly make them my after-dinner meal again.


Post #6: Keeping Our Kids Off the Sugar Teet

After having two zero-carb pregnancies (minus some darned pickles), I gave birth to two healthy, happy babies. And that, my friends, is when I faced my greatest challenge to date.

I had to actually FEED them.

You know, in today’s world, everything is about the treats. Going to the movies? You gotta have popcorn and candy. Having a birthday? Get a cake. Going to the bank? Here’s a sucker. Learning to go potty? Give them M&Ms. A special holiday? Candy, candy, candy! Taking your child to the church nursery? Here come the cookies! Going to the grandparents’ house? Hope you saved room for dessert.

I knew from my own personal experiences that I felt worlds better without carbs and sugars in my diet. I knew that I felt more relaxed and calm without my blood sugar surging and plummeting all day long. I was calm, but also had plenty of steady energy, more than I ever did while eating carbs. I slept well at nights and lived my life free from cravings, moodiness, and weight gain. I just felt GOOD.

Why wouldn’t I want my kids to feel the same way?

After much discussion with my husband, we decided to feed our children a diet of only meats, low-carb vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and water. No grains, sweets, juices, potatoes, breads, or starches.

And wow. I don’t think either of us really knew what we were signing ourselves up for.

What they ate as infants/babies

Raising low-carb kids was simplest when they were first born, mostly because no one else really attempts to feed other people’s infants. For their first six months, both of our babies were breastfed, without cereal supplements or any additional food. I didn’t worry about keeping sugar or carbs from them, and I didn’t have to worry about someone tossing a lollipop into their bottles. Nutritionally, the ball was completely in my court.

The real challenge began when they were about six months of age, and they each became interested in table foods. We started out giving them a mix of solid and mushy foods. I continued breastfeeding them, but we also gave them their first food: meat.

Even though meat is not a traditional “first food” for babies in America, it’s very common in many countries around the world to start children off this way. It’s worth pointing out that meat is one of the least allergenic and most digestible foods.

We would let Thomas pick up a chicken leg or burger patty and gum it. Or I would cook a fatty roast in the crock-pot and then purée it in a food processor to spoon-feed to Julia. Voila! Instant beef baby food.

I introduced low-carb pureed vegetables a couple of weeks later, when I felt that they had developed a healthy taste for proteins and fats. And though I would usually add some form of fat to the veggies (green beans with bacon fat, or carrots with butter), the kids quickly found that they loved vegetables, too, especially green beans, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, olives, and carrots. My kids have both been known to squeal at the sight of beets. Seriously. Beets.

What they eat now as toddlers

Now that they’re both sitting in booster seats at the table, putting a low-carb meal on their plates is basically like feeding a [short] low-carb adult. Truth be told, they could probably out-eat most adults.

Here’s a standard breakfast selection for our children: eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit or tomatoes, and unsweetened, high-fat Greek yogurt.

Low-carb snacking on-the-go was something else I had to figure out. Because they eat such huge and filling meals, they don’t snack a lot, but when they do, they eat things like pepperoni, nuts, summer sausage, carrot sticks, pork rinds, and granny smith apples.

If we go out to eat, I order them a meat (steak, bun-less burger, beef tips, pork chop, chicken wings, chicken salad, or roast beef with melted cheese on top), and some vegetables. Going out to eat with them is still difficult, but only because they’re two and three years old and have the patience of a gnat when it comes to waiting for food. They may have come by that honestly, though.

They only drink water, which they both LOVE. They’ve never tasted juice, so they don’t ask for it. They’ve also never tasted cow’s milk (other than unsweetened heavy whipping cream), but they do get dairy in the form of cheese and Greek yogurt. Also, Julia has a great love for seltzer water. (She has her daddy’s face, but is definitely my child.)

Their most favorite treat (aside from a juicy steak) is fruit. I mostly stick to lower-sugar fruits like granny smith apples, honeydew melon, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I can get Thomas to do ANYTHING for a grape.

The world is a sugar minefield.

As they are getting older, things are becoming markedly trickier. For instance, our choices in child care providers and preschools have been based in part upon who will allow us to pack our own lunches and snacks. And when my kids are invited to a birthday party, I bake them a cake without flour or sweeteners (recipe coming soon) to make sure they don’t feel left out. In case there is ever a party at my kids’ school, I always have an extra special (though still low-carb and sugar-free) bag of snacks in their backpack.

One thing I didn’t anticipate was how easy it would be to tell my children that they can’t have sugar and sweets. I haven’t had to turn them down, because they’ve never even asked me for sweets. They don’t even like the smell of baked goods or sugary foods. They truly have NO sweet tooth whatsoever and have no desire for anything other than meats, vegetables, and fruit. I don’t think they’d like the taste of candy even if I gave it to them.

And what a difference it makes in their behavior! They are incredibly calm, good kids with a great demeanor. But, WOW. Ingesting even the slightest bit of sugar can quickly change that. Because the only sugary thing they’ve ever been exposed to is prescription medicine, it’s easy for me to see the instant decline when sugar enters their systems. Do you know how many common medicines have sugar and sweeteners in them? Most all of them. And when it comes to my kids, the end result is melee. It’s not pretty.

If I can spare my children from a lifetime of negative effects from sugars and carb addiction, I will be thrilled. If I can help keep their blood sugar stable and allow them to feel the calmness and happiness that I have experienced over the past five years, I will consider myself successful.

I should mention that there is one side effect that has been completely unexpected. Due to their diets being so different from most (all?) other kids that we know, I can already tell that Julia and Thomas realize that it’s completely okay to think outside of the box and go “against the grain,” if you will. They’re finding out at an early age that it’s fine to be “different.”

And I’m definitely okay with that. Because, let’s face it: Aren’t we all?


The Healthiest Candy Bars, Ranked By Nutritionists

Sure, fancy chocolate is great and dark chocolate contains beneficial minerals and antioxidants, but there’s something so wonderfully nostalgic about a drugstore candy bar.

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally enjoying a treat just because it’s sweet. Even registered dietitians agree. Meredith Price, founder of Priceless Nutrition & Wellness, told HuffPost, “I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic and absolutely believe there is room in a healthy diet for chocolate and other sweets. I’d prefer to choose healthier options like dark chocolate. However, if someone enjoys a Snickers bar every now and then, that is 100 percent OK.”

Price added that the important thing is to focus on incorporating beneficial foods into your diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) rather than getting caught up in which foods to limit.

But back to chocolate: Do the peanuts in a Snickers bar somewhat make up for the 25 grams of added sugar (a whopping 50 percent of your recommended daily value)? Do the almonds and coconut in an Almond Joy offer significant nutritional value? Is there a “healthier” candy bar that stands above the rest of America’s favorites?

We asked three nutritionists to rank the nation’s most popular candy bars (according to retail sales data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm) from healthiest to least healthy. They each came up with their own drastically different guidelines.

These were the 10 top-selling candy bars in the U.S. last year (in the category of chocolate candy box/bag/bar less than 3.5 ounces):

  1. Snickers
  2. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
  3. Kit Kat
  4. Twix
  5. 3 Musketeers
  6. Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme
  7. Reese’s Sticks
  8. Almond Joy
  9. Milky Way
  10. Hershey’s Gold

Meredith Price’s Ranking

Price ranked the candy bars based on saturated fat and sugar content, and those with trans fats automatically went to the bottom of her list.

She noted that calories weren’t a consideration as the bars all fell within the same range (210 to 250 calories). But trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, were a red flag. Trans fats “should be completely avoided in the diet due to their ability to increase risk of heart disease,” she said.

“To choose the healthiest candy bar, you want one with the least amount of sugar and saturated fat and absolutely no trans fats,” Price said. “If you were to choose any candy bar [including those not on this list], the best option is to go for a dark chocolate version as they tend to have less sugar and even some beneficial properties like antioxidants and trace minerals.”

Price’s ranking (with links to the nutrition facts for each bar):

Snickers, the “healthiest” option, has the lowest amount of saturated fat (23 percent) in the group, according to Price. “It is a bit higher in sugar than most of the others,” she added. “Therefore, if you’re enjoying a Snickers bar, try to have this be your one sweet treat of the day.”

Twix came in second for its moderate saturated fat (30 percent) and sugar (22 grams) content.

The worst of the lot, 3 Musketeers, has both trans fats and the highest amount of sugar (36 grams). “That’s a whopping 9 teaspoons of sugar in one candy bar, which is higher than the American Heart Association’s upper recommendation of daily sugar intake,” Price said.

Natalie Rizzo’s Ranking

Rizzo, a registered dietitian and author of The No-Brainer Nutrition Guide for Every Runner, looked for recognizable ingredients.

While she didn’t consider any of the candy bars to be healthy, she said she favored those with “some sort of healthy ingredients, like nuts or chocolate, as the first ingredients on the list.” Among bars with similar ingredients, the one with less sugar won out, and candy bars containing unrecognizable ingredients went to the bottom of the list.

On the group as a whole, Rizzo said, “They are all an indulgence to have once in a while. I suggest opting for the one that satisfies your sweet tooth, since they all have very similar nutrition facts.”

  1. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
  2. Reese’s Sticks
  3. Snickers
  4. Twix
  5. Milky Way
  6. 3 Musketeers
  7. Almond Joy
  8. Kit Kat
  9. Hershey’s Gold
  10. Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme

Her top pick, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, “has the most pure ingredients, made from just milk chocolate without many additives.” Reese’s Sticks top Rizzo’s list because milk chocolate and peanuts lead their ingredients. Rizzo also pointed out that Reese’s Sticks have less sugar than the others and 4 grams of protein.

The other Hershey’s bars didn’t fare as well in her ranking, with the Gold and Cookies ‘n’ Creme bars coming in at the bottom of the list. Rizzo described Hershey’s Gold as a “sugar-forward bar made with other additives like vegetable oil” and its “only redeeming quality” being the peanuts. Sugar is also the first ingredient in Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme, and Rizzo noted that she didn’t recognize most of the other ingredients.

Jonathan Valdez’s Ranking

Valdez, owner of Genki Nutrition and media spokesperson for the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, took note of serving size, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and calories.

“If there is more than 20 percent of your daily value of these nutrients per serving, that raises a flag in terms of health impacts,” Valdez said. “It is also important to look at the fiber, protein and mineral content.”

  1. Reese’s Sticks
  2. Kit Kat
  3. Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme
  4. Hershey’s Gold
  5. Almond Joy
  6. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
  7. 3 Musketeers
  8. Milky Way
  9. Snickers
  10. Twix

He put Reese’s Sticks at the top of his list in part because, “compared to the other bars, this has the lowest amount of saturated fat,” Valdez said. Kit Kat, in second place, has “higher traces of vitamin D, iron, calcium and potassium” compared to Reese’s Sticks and a relatively lower fat content compared to the others.

Snickers just avoided the last slot because it has less saturated fat than Twix, which Valdez deemed “the worst candy of the choices.”

The lack of consensus among the three experts, who valiantly scraped to find redeeming nutritional qualities, indicates that there isn’t a truly healthy option here. But then you already knew that about candy bars.

“Everything in moderation,” Valdez said. “Ultimately, if it doesn’t exceed your caloric needs, it will not lead to weight gain. [But] eat too much of these treats, and they can replace other nutritional foods such as fruits, dairy and lean proteins.”

In short, if you choose to indulge, you could just pick the one you like best.


Did you know?

Mexico and other Latin America countries have been at the forefront at using monetary policy to improve public health. Over 25 countries throughout the world have adopted a sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) tax. While some cities in the United States have followed suit, no statewide mandates for SSB taxes have been made.

Rising Demand for Healthy Sugar Substitutes

It should be no secret that artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup are detrimental to our health.

When you look at the insidious damage that they have had on health it's shocking to think that they could ever be approved as being safe for human consumption.

It's one of the reasons why some cities and countries around the world have passed soda taxes and have removed vending machines from schools, hospitals, and other public spaces.

This subject is highly politicized and not taken lightly by the Big CPG companies that need to keep their share of your wallet to keep their shareholders happy.

That's why they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying against legislation reform that require taxes on sugary beverages and foods.

But, when you look at obesity rates and other chronic health conditions that are preventable through dietary and lifestyle behaviors it's hard not to argue that every one of these products should come with a warning label like those of alcohol and tobacco.

Change is slow, but it is happening.

But, the biggest catalyst for change has been led by consumer education and demand for better ingredients.

As the cheaper option, artificial sweeteners are the preferred option for big businesses.

But, in addition to just being more expensive, the question remains whether they are actually better for you.