This post is part of a five part series on sugar and healthy eating. Check them out by clicking this link!


Show Your Work

This post is a follow-up for my series on sugar I started a while back when my girls came home with birthday goody bags full of a massive amount of sugar. As a former educator, I am never one to miss a “learning opportunity”. Thus, my girls and I decided to do a real world math assignment to figure out just how much sugar was in their “goody bags”. Knowing that one of the big shifts in math education is around the idea that there is no “right” way to solve a problem and the process is just as important as the answer… we worked as a team to find the answer to our guiding questions:

  • Considering each girl had received 2 goody bags, during the class party, just how many grams of sugar was in the bags?
  • How would our answer translate in table sugar?

Our strategy:

  1. Each girls took their stash and separated out candy types, e.g. fruit snacks, Rice Krispy treats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, etc.
  2. We looked on the package to find the sugar in grams and listed it on our worksheet
  3. Some of the candy was from larger candy packs and thus had not sugar information, so for those we looked up sugar amounts online. (I had to help with this.)
  4. We made sure to consider serving sizes in our calculations. For example, sometimes snack packages list more than one serving on the package, so we made sure to account for this.
  5. When we had all our amounts, my girls multiplied the number of each type of candy times the number of grams of sugar per serving to get the total amount.
  6. Then we totaled up our list to get the grand total.
  7. Finally, we went online and looked up how to convert grams of sugar to teaspoons. We had so many grams, we estimated how many cups of sugar this was, but I also found this helpful chart as well.

See my daughters’ worksheet (which she cleverly titled “Candy Calculations”) to see how she approached this problem.

EverydayMathSugarProblem

This is an example of goody bags gone BAD! The picture above shows how much sugar was in two goody bags given out at a combined class birthday party at my girls school–almost 3/4 cups of SUGAR!

The results? We discovered there was a whooping 126 – 140 grams of sugar in the treats they were given in one (two birthday) celebration! Needless to say, there was MORE THAN ENOUGH sugar in the goody bags. And the girls learned a hands-on lesson about 1) how to use math to solve a real-world question, and 2) how much DANG sugar is hiding in the food we eat!

Lessons Learned

Along the way, we also learned some pretty interesting lessons. Here were our favorites:

Some “healthy” foods aren’t that healthy—read the label for hidden sugar.

Even “healthy foods” can hide unhealthy amounts of sugar. Yoplait “Original” Yogurt for example contains 27 grams of sugar—more than five teaspoons! And at 170 calories, 108 of which come from sugar, This is a “treat” not a health food. Even the Light version, contains 14 grams of sugar, which in my book is still a high number. Check out this great website showing common snacks with stacks of sugar cubes which is a great way to see how prevalent sugar is in many everyday foods.

Just because it says “fruit”, doesn’t mean it’s not full of sugar.

Fruit by the Foot for example is 48 Percent Sugar! That means this “food” is made almost entirely of sugar, with artificial color, flavor, thickeners, and stabilizers. YUM!!! Unlike REAL fruit, it contains no vitamins, minerals, or fiber. Capri Sun drink is another example. The Sugary Drink F.A.C.T.S website states:

“Fruit drinks often contain nearly as many calories as soda and 10% or less juice, meaning that nearly all of the sugar they contain is added sugar. Even smaller products contain excessive added sugar: just one 6-ounce Capri Sun fruit drink pouch provides 107% of the added sugar a 4-year-old should have in a whole day.”

The more process the food, the less you know what you’re putting in your body.

On the sugar scale, Doritos looked good, but in researching ingredients, we learned how little we knew about what went into them. Just check out the ingredients label below.

Many of the ingredients I recognize, don’t sound pretty. Along with corn and vegetable oil, there is also monosodium glutamate, artificial flavor and food coloring. The ingredients I DON’T recognize are troubling. What is disodium inosinate, for example? Me and my girls agreed, we preferred eating food made with ingredients we can pronounce.

If you need more reasons to never eat Doritos again, check out this video. And for some healthier alternatives, click here.

What do you think? How do you help your kids or students learn about healthy eating habits? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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Happy & Healthy, Holidays

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