Are you getting your FoodsWorth?

Your six-year-old child asks a friend over to play. "Can I interest you boys in 60 teaspoons of sugar?", you pleasantly ask. What an odd thing to state (instead of would you like some soda)? Would many parents actually say that? But the thing is, each regular 12 ounces of soda contains an estimated ten teaspoons of sugar (about 50 grams). Every six-year-old boy I ever met, including our own son, could drink his weight (and most adults) under the table when it comes to soda, the sweeter the better. Then, in the ultimate victory of consumption, refuse to eat any sort of a decent meal. How could he grow, so full of what, exactly?


Your six-year-old child asks a friend over to play. "Can I interest you boys in 60 teaspoons of sugar?", you pleasantly ask. What an odd thing to state (instead of would you like some soda)? Would many parents actually say that? But the thing is, each regular 12 ounces of soda contains an estimated ten teaspoons of sugar (about 50 grams). Every six-year-old boy I ever met, including our own son, could drink his weight (and most adults) under the table when it comes to soda, the sweeter the better. Then, in the ultimate victory of consumption, refuse to eat any sort of a decent meal. How could he grow, so full of what, exactly?

Now we know what we didn't back then. Consuming one 12-ounce (355-millilitre) sweetened soft drink per day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60 percent. Drinking too many sweetened caffeinated drinks leads to dental cavities (or caries) from the high sugar content and the erosion of the enamel of the teeth from the acidity.

At this point, it is important to point out that food can be categorised into two very different subsets: recreational fluff snacks (non-food really) and survivor growth food. The second category often gets lumped right in with the first, or may hardly ever get served at all. You'll understand these nuances as we further explore the impact of food on our bodies, our psyches and our pocketbook. The main ingredient in soda is carbonated water, followed by sugar, lots of chemical sounding ingredients, but not much else from a nutrition perspective except the chance to overload your pancreas' ability to break the sugar down. What's the cost per can? Let's say $1 to $2 each depending on where you buy it. Multiply that by the amount (four) that each member of a family of four can drink in the day; the cost escalates rapidly to $16. Times that by seven days equals $112 then times that by four weeks equals $448. Can this be? Almost $500 on soda? A month?

OK, so sugar-loaded drinks (including Koolaid, Sobe, etc.) aren't considered so good for you anymore. Let's take a look at the label on my favourite mineral (soda) diet ginger beer. Besides aspartame, ginger flavouring, and various compounds such as citric acid, neutral cloud, sodium benzoate (a preservative but what is it preserving?) it is all zeros ? $448 a month for zeros?

Let's compare that cost to some other popular soft drinks. We will avoid for now caffeinated versus non-caffeinated offerings.

Gatorade: The new sports drink can be pricey while the overall benefits of its performance enhancing message is still not totally conclusive. Attractively packaged and relentless marketed, it's a popular choice but is it any more nutritious than soda? And the more boring but still crowd pleasers: Orange juice while high in sugar content is loaded with vitamin C and fibre, if you choose pulp in. It's a unit price bargain in the generic brand compared to soda. Be careful here, many orange products are just that, not real juice. Read the label; it should say fresh, pure, simple and not from concentrate. There should be no ingredients such as fructose or other additives.

Milk, wholesome milk: The cheapest of all and still a tremendous bang for your buck, particularly, if you purchase skim for adults. Children need milk, as long as they are not lactose intolerant.

It builds healthy bones, strong teeth, some Vitamin D and the greatest bonus of all, pure protein. A six-year-old needing 24 grams of protein a day can pick up half the need in one 12 oz glass of milk. Yes, there are dissenters within the medical community who maintain milk is not good for children, you will have to follow parental instincts and your paediatrician's advice here. But the obvious fact, milk is far more nutritious than soda. And of course, there is water, good old water, the foundation of life. Some may read this and feel that I exaggerate.

Maybe so, but you can substitute beer, wine, other types of liquid food treats - double chocolate lattes and come up with the same results.

No criticism is implied whatsoever regarding anyone's choices, but the question still remains, what are you getting for your food dollar? Have you ever noticed that the most scintillating and delicious tasting of the fluff food treats, cost the most and reward your body the least? Coupled with all these facts, we face the timeless effect of subliminal suggestive marketing every day.

All I knew as child was that those families who offered us Coke to drink (and I remember the first Coke like yesterday) instead of cheap old reconstituted milk, could afford to do so. They ? were living the good life, while we, at our house, could not afford too.

Real food should be regarded as an investment just like savings in a bank or a long-term pension. What you eat and imbibe now may either come back to haunt you later or pay great dividends. Yet, we all (and I am no exception) treat food as well, treats. We all need to have revolutionary mindset about this necessary source of intellectual investment.

Final food worthy vote on the liquid items listed above, that is nutritional value per dollar is milk = by a landslide!

Or you could try the low cost fizzy drink ? developed in our household by my dear husband ? home-made Orangina, aptly called BumpaGina. Try it. For ten ounce glass, use three ounces of real orange juice and seven ounces of housebrand sparkling water. Cheap, refreshing and low in sugar. For further information on every food out there, try www.nutritiondata.com/facts-B00001-01c212Z.html

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