Sugar Independence Day

The man in the passenger seat of the fire truck suddenly started throwing small, hard, white balls in our direction. My wife, Nicole, our son, Jonah, and I were watching the passing Canada Day parade last Saturday, in our small Ontarian city.

What were they throwing? I thought.  Snowballs? If you keep snowballs in the freezer, they get hard and small like that. What a cool way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday (as long as no one gets hurt).

As the white pellets hit the pavement kids were diving to the road to collect them. I soon caught on that they weren’t melting leftovers from February, but white candy (symbolic of the white snowfields on the Canadian flag).

When we got home, Nicole was shaking her head. “How undignified,” she said, “training kids to pick up candy off the ground.” After 40 years of type-1 diabetes and her own battles with sugar addiction, she was not impressed.

Not one float, but several repeated the same act. Bad enough North American society encourages kids, each Halloween, to go door-to-door begging for genetically modified, chemically preserved sweets – at the expense of their health and the profit of big corporations.

A few floats were respectful enough to get out of their seats and hand out red and white lolli-pops to kids. Sadly, no truly Canadian treats, like maple leaves made with real Canadian maple syrup. Instead, it was all most certainly made from high fructose corn syrup, the cheapest and most harmful sugar available. The Canadian government spent half-a-billion dollars (they didn’t have) on the celebrations, and this is the best we can do?

No wonder those with type-1 diabetes have such a hard time following a low-carb diet in this sugar-filled world. Children are being trained to grovel on the ground for a sugar fix, while those with T1D need to pass on the potatoes. It’s hard to say who to feel more sorry for.

For a more balanced look, from another Canadian source, you can check out this Sweet Poison? episode of TVOntario’s (similar to PBS for you Yankees) program called The Agenda. In it, science writer Gary Taubes discusses the connection between the rise in sugar consumption and modern diseases. In the interview, he makes the point that 200 years ago, none of these sweet obsessions even existed. There were no candies, no sugary pop drinks, no cakes and muffins, no ice cream… And even when they did come on the scene they were so expensive and rare that their consumption was kept to a holiday minimum.

One float, however, was pretty classy. The local gardening shop would walk to a section of the crowd and say whoever could cheer the loudest gets a free plant. I think it would have been more interesting if they yelled out a piece of Canadian trivia instead. “Whoever can name the first prime minister of Canada…” Alas, few Canadian probably know the name of that drunk Scotsman.

Along the same lines, more useful gifts could have been thrown from the passing vehicles.  Tossing out some red and white marbles for kids to collect would have been plenty of fun (since, unlike candy, they keep on rolling). Balls or hacky sacks with maple leaf emblems could also have been distributed.

Many Americans readers with type-1 diabetes will be celebrating the 4th of July tomorrow, another sugar-loaded celebration. So you may wish to check out the Sweet Poison interview and celebrate Independence Day independent of North America’s cocaine-like addiction to white sugar – sort of like they would have back in 1776.

Thinking outside the T1D Matrix,
– John C. A. Manley

P.S.  Of course, while high fructose corn syrup is a definite no-no for anybody with T1D, the question still stands: How Low-Carb Should a Type-1 Diabetic Diet Go?

P.P.S. We’re still raising funds for Nicole’s surgery. $5, from enough people (about 10,000), is all we need to make this happen. To support the work we are doing or find out more please go KidneyKarma.com

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