Can another sister overcome genetic sweet tooth?

Thursday , June 19, 2014 - 12:00 AM


With the combination of my parents’ genetics I wasn’t blessed with a sweet tooth, I was blessed with an entire set of sweet teeth. It’s like this compulsion wriggling up from my toes ending in my throat — must have chocolate. I can settle this down with just one taste of a teeny, insignificant M&M. For the most part I keep this in check exercising amazing self-control literally eating just a nibble of sweets. To keep these cravings at bay I keep my house pretty stark of treats to avoid temptation.

As a kid my mother rarely gave us candy, keeping her hidden stash under the bed or in her dresser drawer. During Family Home Evening she would put out four bowls dotted with a few treats, maybe some tapioca, or if it was really special she’d get us some knock-off Oreos that tasted like toothpaste. My room was right next to her so at night I could hear that distinct rustle of candy wrappers as she snacked. Mother set the precedent. I do the very same things for my kids.

My mirage of candy-celibacy is put to shame by my sister, though. We recently stayed at her house in Denver where I couldn’t get even a slight hint of treat. It smelled of flax seed, Truvia, and fruit (as if that could ever take the place of a Twix bar) because Liz has honed the ability to cut out all sugar. She even drinks unsweetened soy milk, a feat sure to kill me. Nights had me rummaging through my diaper bag for even a sniff of chocolate but to no avail, I wanted to show her just how tough I was at avoiding the sugar.

Liz was very careful with her diet, watching what she ate, the amount, and avoiding sugar unless I waffed a cone of gelato under her nose. No one can resist so don’t judge her for giving in just once. I noticed she doesn’t even use butter in her house, instead employing margarine. I’m impressed over her concern and lifestyle change due to our family’s history of stroke and heart disease.

My philosophy for the most part is much of this is genetic and unavoidable so I plan to enjoy the few things in life that are worth enjoying. Moderation in all things. Especially since scientists continue to dance the Virginia Reel with various studies supporting various findings. The current food debate revolves around butter, whether or not it’s as bad as recently painted.

New findings found that saturated fat, those found in meat, butter and cheese may not be the driving force behind heart disease. Work published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine did not find that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat had more heart disease. This idea that saturated fats may not be as bad as once believed has nutritionists spinning, warning people to not take this as a green light to start throwing down exorbitant amounts of red meat.

Watching my sister carefully choose what she ate made me think about what I’ve been eating. She took me to the grocery store, she mostly shops at Trader Joes, and there she selected fresh foods, cheese, fruit, peas, and a few items I’ll just call cardboard. I decided it was time for me to make a change as well. Upon reading what I should be eating as I got older I found Liz has pointed me in the right direction. Fresh foods, olive oil, nuts and seeds seem to get the most support with only 5 percent of my calories going to saturated fats.

As evidence of a litany of documentaries, many nutritionists believe it’s carbs, sugars and processed foods leading to the so-called obesity epidemic.

Every morning while I went out walking with my sister we talked at length about diet, health and weight where I would try to excuse my need to eat sugar; I realized that I either needed to change the way I saw food or I was going to gain back weight I lost along with a lot more. I could no longer say my simple cliché of inheriting my sweet tooth, because Liz and I share the same genetics.

So now I’m home, setting out for my nearby grocery store, ready to try a plain ol’ apple instead of a candied apple. I’m a big girl now.

Meg Sanders fell down the rabbit hole of motherhood several years ago, quitting her job as a news producer. Now she spends her days grasp ing onto her sanity, striving to be a good person and fighting the urge to eat her young. She can be contacted at

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