Sugar, Caring About Others’ Health, and Consent

I have some news to report in this week’s vlog. According to the Czarnikow Group, a reputable research and finance firm in the sugar industry, sugar consumption went down, year to year, for the first time in FORTY years. This brought up a very interesting point about the effects of living in this time of COVID and the changes happening in our collective mindsets right now. Watch this week’s vlog to hear all about it.


  1. Karyn E. Dowdall


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  2. Denise

    Susan, I agree with your premise, but I think the Covid-as-curtailing-sugar-consumption thought might be overreaching. I know of too many people who, during this time of quarantine, have baked sugar goods like crazy and gained a ton of weight, either regained or initial gain. Liquor can be delivered to your house. Food delivery is easily accessed. I’m not sure why sugar consumption is down right now–maybe we could credit BLE for that!–but I’m not sure it’s quarantine.

    However, I DO agree with you on consent! I have run into the same situation with my children when they were small, and they are in their 30’s and 40’s now! So, it’s not a new situation. It is a tricky one to navigate. So, if everyone you reach chooses to ask first, that should be enough people to begin a major change!

    Thanks for your perspective. I always enjoy hearing your thought processes!

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  3. Amy Miller

    Wow!!! I want to share this with everyone I know, especially with those with whom we entrust our kids care (under non-COVID times, of course). Relatives, babysitter, teachers, school administrators, extracurricular leaders, etc. This is so important to us as individuals, as families, as communities, as societies, as a species. Thank you, Susan, as always, for all your great work!!

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  4. Sonia de Thierry

    Bags of candy! Gosh – seems un-believable from where I’m sitting here in New Zealand – would NEVER happen in a restaurant here. Probs just in the USA? Why is that I wonder?

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  5. Monica

    Oh Susan! This vlog has me all fired up. I’ve spent a decade and a half begging, pleading and cajoling various people for consent to foist junk food on my kids, but to no avail. Their school gives out candy and processed junk food like it’s nothing at all, and my parents have just completely ignored my repeated requests for consent. Not to mention Girl Scouts, weekly soccer and baseball practice/games, play dates, bank tellers sending candy through with my receipt, restaurants, oh and did I mention grandparents and the school? I wish more people saw this issue as you do. I feel like I’ve been spitting into a rainstorm for 15 years and I’ve seen no improvement. Thank you for fighting this good fight!

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      We hear your frustration, Monica! Too many kids’ events have a processed food snack as a given. Here’s to being the change we want to see in the world. 🧡

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  6. Harriet Laffan

    Excellent Vlog, In Scotland,at The checkout of cheap stores they try to up sell junk. So, as you’re about to pay they ask would you like this chocolate? Now if they offered alcohol or cigarettes, there would be uproar!

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  7. Jana

    Excellent, Susan! Always enjoy your vlogs.

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  8. Becky

    Love love love this message. These ideas of consent and poor norms are a huge issue. So great to have you spreading awareness to the masses. Thank you!

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  9. Margaret Chapman

    I think this l blog would make a great op ed piece in the NY Times! Very thoughtful, one of your best blogs ever!

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  10. Diane

    I love this idea of consent. I’ve been limiting sugar intake in my kids (29 & 26 year olds now) since they were born. We drank water, not juices. We ate whole foods not packaged processed food. I cooked everything and eating out was a treat, not a regular occurrence. My food binges didn’t start until I hit my forties and was not done around them, so the kids had a great grounding in how to eat healthfully. I think dumping junk food on kids when the dumper has no idea if there are food allergies, sensitivities or just plain old parents not wanting their kids to eat crap is just thoughtless… not unlike the thoughtless or mindless way society has accepted that eating like that is normal. Bring on consent and the awareness that comes with it!

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  11. Gillian Thornton

    Yes sugar in every food these days to get people accustomed to the taste. i live in Spain. My sister in law in NY.She always chooses ice creams that I cannot eat because of the extra sugar. Well these days ice cream is out and (I do not like sweet anymore.) Corn syrup is in all food unless it is good old fashioned home cooked food. Manufacturers know all about getting people used to a sweeter palate and thereby hooked.

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  12. Kathryn McWilliams

    Great thoughts! I’m curious whether the sugar study included corn syrup (i .e., was sugar consumption in ALL its forms down, or just cane sugar?). Because swapping one for another wouldn’t necessarily reduce the effects….I’d love to know the answer.

    Thanks for starting this dialog about social norms centered on food!

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  13. Susan Purcell

    Bravo!!!!! It is simply insane for our society to be promulgating eating habits (the ones you mentioned) and wondering why we have pandemics and chronic illness. I truly hope that you can have an impact on non-BLE folks. Our society is just way way way too circus-y. Not to mention our effect on other creatures and the entire planet.

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  14. Cleona Wallace

    I’m new to BLE and watching your vlog, but this was really interesting. I live in Italy so aside from the flour (basically life without pasta and pizza is inconceivable to most people here), I struggle a lot with my kids being bombarded with sugar… at any parties or school events it’s everywhere, and when you’re in a cafe there are literally bags of sweets EVERYWHERE, all at child height. It’s a constant battle to limit it. Luckily mine like fruit too, so I’m hoping to gradually wean them away from the sugar.

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  15. Estelle du Toit

    Hallo Susan thank you for all the information. I have sent numerous emails to support but no one has come back to me with any of my questions. Please advise.

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  16. Helen Riff

    Because of CoVid, sugar has not been available where I live in the Seattle area. And the price has generally been extremely high on-line on Amazon. I believe the supply chains had 100-lb bags for restaurants and bakeries stopped but it couldn’t be easily repacked in smaller bags for home consumers.

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  17. Cat

    Hi Susan, great vlog! My question is this – have sugar substitutes taken over from processed sugars in food? My worry is that as sugar has been demonized, sweeteners have been added to so many foods. Yoghurt, salad dressings, desserts, puddings, breads and on and on. As a grandparent I’m always cautious about bringing healthy fruits when I visit the grandchildren, but they are inundated by no calorie chemical sweeteners, in everyday foods, and as you said – everyday activities in groups of kids end up with treats. Even schools have tried to remove snack and pop machines, but are facing an uphill battle. For families on limited incomes {especially during the pandemic,} high sugar, chemically sweetened foods are cheaper and in larger quantities than fruits and veggies.

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  18. Cilla

    Perhaps we should start with the videos our children watch.
    They are loaded with sugar treats!!!

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  19. Kathy

    Yes – let´s change the collective norms around junk food and junk eating!

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  20. Roxanne Woods

    Might just be the best vlog I’ve seen and I’ve loved a lot of them!! Great insight! I’ve had even more aha’s than you may have intended – I’m passing this along everywhere I can.

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  21. Mardell

    Yeah!! You speak my mind so well here! I am grateful for your articulate way of presenting it. I am not sure I have much hope of change because I believe we are led by food industry corporations. However, your comparison of societal change regarding smoking to how we could someday look at sugar was positive and gives me some hope. In truth, I do already see a difference. Many people in my circles at least know, feel guilty and/or apologize when eating sugar or processed foods. Just a few years ago that was not the case. I appreciate how you are transitioning away from weight loss program only to a healthy eating program. Us addicts understand that you cant have one without the other

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  22. Jo Crawford

    Hi Susan excellent blog. My one visit to USA in 1992, I arrived at airport and thought I had ventured into a “Tellie Tubbies” convention, as everyone looked obese. As in many things Europe has followed the USA in behaviours, here in the UK obesity is the norm. Since the 1940s sweets have been seen as “treats “, treats now expected on a daily basis. We need to remind ourselves that manufacturers are in the business of making money, not in offering a service. As a Health Visitor (public health nurse) in UK for 33 years l witnessed the rapid development of this new norm in the English diet copying America. Your reference to smoking so relevant, when l watch old films seems gross to see everone smoking, even doctors at work. l have been watching your blogs from the start, consider this to be one of the most powerful. We need more advocates like you to educate the public, & save us from ourselves.

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  23. Sarah Seidelin

    Love this one.
    My husband’s family is overweight. 6 months into BLE for me, his son and daughter with families came to visit. Crossing the border into Norway they bought a enormous bucket of sweets each, all 8 of them, and brought it into my house. My husband is overweight with serious heart disease. I was furious! There was nothing I could do, and all the sweets and it’s consumption just made me feel nauseous.

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  24. Phaedra

    Great vlog Susan, I love the frog analogy. Adding to your point is that for many who have diabetes, Covid has a much greater impact on them leading to strokes, amputations etc. Sadly there are people who won’t change their eating/lifestyle but happily take medication to control it. I have acid reflux and the ads about the medication that can help us to continue eating terrible food boggles my mind – how about stop eating the terrible food 😉 I definitely grew up on sugar and kicking the habit has been tough but the alternatives are not the destination I am seeking.

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  25. Laura

    Wow, Susan! You are right on as always, but this really hits home. I think about food and the norms of being social. Sometimes having to work with the whole social eating out and gathering scenario. Being singled out over what may and may not be eaten. But with the kids, food is almost like a management or handling of behaviors in some instances. I have seen family members say, let the kids be kids and eat things like sugar laden treats, soda, and chips. It’s a way to manipulate them into behaving by promising treats or entertaining them so to speak by serving pizzas and “things kids like”. Very similar to handing off technology and video games to keep them quiet and calm.

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  26. Bren Lefever

    So spot on!!!!! Love it!! I hate when my kids come home from school, camp, wherever and they are inundated with sweets. I have to throw it out and I feel bad people are spending money and thinking they are being nice!! I raised my last kid on healthy food and he actually doesn’t like sweets at all but if other kids are eating it he feels socially pressured to copy. He has actually handed me partially eaten candy before we get to the car.

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  27. Darryl Tarbell

    Such an amazing topic. I wish when my children were small we had known this. I often think of the things we fed them, thinking they were getting good nutrition. Thanks for this topic Susan.

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  28. Phyllis J

    well-reasoned argument, Susan. Thank you!

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  29. Beverly DiCarlo

    Knowledge is power! Yes on consensus!

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  30. Robert Dermont

    Your best vlog

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  31. Claire

    I totally agree-and I’d add in-let’s REALLY be breast-feeding champions, (tv, commercials, public as mums can handle it), and not model having a glass of wine or martini or beer EVERY evening or with meals-in order to “relax”, or head immediately for the medicine cabinet for a Tylenol, ibuprofen, aspirin, nyquil or other if we are in pain, or uncomfortable with sore muscles or or or?

    That too, is really modeling that relief is in a bottle, box, or Dr.’s office instead of a nap, a big glass of water, meditation, ice/heat, steam/dry, chiropractic/massage etc etc. or maybe even a reduction in activities or an increase in the more enjoyable ones.

    While we’re at it-why don’t we model bringing washable service to a picnic? Or a re-usable coffee mug or??? Oh yee gads-I’m on a roll and YES-they watch us all the time…my next hurdle of modeling will probably be embracing a declination in health and or death…how exciting!

    Our entire modern culture(not just American’s either), is rife with reaching for anesthesia of one sort or another for the most inane maladies-so part of this shift is seeking better ways to deal with anxiety, pain, stress or nutrition-which also has to be available-so container gardening and community gardens and small flocks of chickens or a goat or two or…will all go a long way in bringing good food back into perspective-while the work of taking care of it all-will give us exercise, camaraderie and enough learning to keep us occupied in our constant seeking of “entertainments”.

    I have my food issues for sure-being a 10+ on the scale-but I made a vow in my first pregnancy to provide good decent, nutritious food at all times, never make a fuss about “finishing, trying this or that, or bad vs good”…we just really didn’t comment on their bodies except at how good they were in motion, strength, stamina, grace and skill sets, and when they had a real NMF item-they both would get high as a kite-believe me! :), and we’d just point those side effects out to them-because it rarely made them feel good for more than an hour or so-and then they’d be a heap.

    They both went through the cycles of our genetics…getting a bit fluffy-then growing a bunch up-and are now perfect for their general “conformation”-which they realistically embrace as “not the ideal willowy, tall, fluid like present ideal-but more along the lines of on the short side, muscular, powerful, quick, athletic beings who can dance, ride, ski, hike, swim, enjoy martial arts, many board games, books and playing with the family dog.

    I agree so much with the asking permission-and my ‘kids’ are now in their thirties-easily balance their weight with their occasional splurges, understand basic and some advanced nutrition and try to stick to it-and have a plethora of physical or mental activities they enjoy-rather than eating. Me on the other hand? 🙂 I have to keep working on it! sigh But-I feel I did it! I passed on MUCH better eating habits to the next generation than that with which I was raised and it meant going against the cultural norms in a respectful-but steady course and they thank me for it all the time. So hang in there all-and yes-you are the parent. Kids know if they are heavy or slim-believe me-everyone tells them one way or the other…even Dr.s and teachers-grrrrrr. It is a horrid impact-for both sexes. They need to see you eating correctly, it helps immensely not to hate your own body, and it really helps to be aware of how often we tell kids what they can and cannot eat because of WEIGHT instead of HEALTH and VITALITY. They have a pretty good chance of having bone structure and muscle/fat distribution about like yours-or your parents-what a chance to embrace and celebrate that-instead of trying to mold it into something it really can’t be. We forget that body image issues even plague the “perfect” and I’d love for us to stop going there all together.

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  32. RL Lamson

    Good vlog Susan they make it so easy to keep eating sweets and I think it has a lot to do with your mind set I know that’s true in my case. Keep up the good work young lady RL Lamson Kentucky

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  33. Brenda

    It’s a really good analogy. Covid has made health decisions a lot more visible and immediate. Health consequences and correlations are harder to see.

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  34. Sarah Katzin

    Very surprised (although of course happily) that eating habits have been impacted positively. I thought that people were overeating and getting into worse habits while being stuck at home. I totally agree with the idea of consent. I have been in the situation when my kids were offered junk to eat without me being asked. Although I did not necessarily feed them a perfect diet, I did not hand out candy and sweet desserts indiscriminately and especially not before or instead of a meal! It’s hard for me to understand people who do this. I hope the world is in fact headed in a better direction.

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  35. Bonnie

    During the first three months of Covid, all I did was bake, and I gained 15 pounds!

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  36. Laura L Warhola

    Yes, I’ve battled this issue for years, working in the elementary school system and also in our church, attempting to curtail the continual practice of using sugar as a reward.. Awful.

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  37. Nancy Goss

    Great vlog! Brilliant concept to change the culture around gettin permission before offering children any kind of food.

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  38. Ariann

    Terrific. I have a grandnephew who has Type 1 diabetes and no one asks before shoving candy in front of him which could kill him. I no longer send birthday cards or post ‘gifs’ with birthday cake or cupcakes since BLE. I think it is a mind-set and social orientation we need to reset. Great vlog, Susan.

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  39. June Van Winkle

    Yes! I never thought of how we have “normalized” the Standard American Diet. I look forward to the day that advertising agencies will be put on trial for pushing their unhealthy, dangerous products on the most vulnerable populations among us and causing great harm to our health and well-being. Hopefully, fake food will go the way of cigarettes with consumption on a decreasing trend! Thank you, Susan for stating the case so clearly.

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  40. Julia Mazza

    This vlog really hit home with me as a parent. I always cringed when a new commercial would air about some sugar filled concoction. The food industry definitely targets kids with bright colors and exciting visuals in the advertising of toxic foods. I truly hope the norm will be changing. Your analogy to the smoking industry gives me hope there will be changes going forward. Thank you for your insightful message! Great job with that situation in the restaurant too! You handled that beautifully and your children are very blessed to have your guidance and protection! Bless you Susan!!!

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  41. Margo Johnston

    Great vlog, Susan, thank you

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  42. Lauren

    Spot. On!
    My daughter had severe food allergies when she was little. A single drop of milk landing on her face would result in a welt breaking out! Eating the stuff was a hospital run. You would be amazed at how many “well intentioned” (ignorant and unthinking) adults would take it upon themselves to try to work around me as the mean mom, and offer her ice cream. Fortunately, she was very aware (with a lot of coaching from us) and very clear in her refusals.
    Sugar is an addictive drug for so many of us with Grandma being the original drug pusher. We need to reframe how we offer positive reinforcement for kids. Skinned knees and cookies do not need to go hand in hand!

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      My goodness! How stressful that must’ve been, Lauren. Sound like you educated her and taught her to be a great advocate for herself. 🧡

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  43. Sue Craig

    Wow, Susan,
    Wonderful vlog. I had been thinking along similar lines myself about preventable disease. Even though smoking rates are way down I think it would still be the case that annual deaths from smoking-related causes are more numerous than deaths this year from COVID. But, as you say, eating the now-standard North American diet is really the new smoking.
    In the case of smoking, I think the opposition really got going when the Surgeon-General of the United States announced that 50 per cent of regular, life-long smokers would die of it. It is well documented now that the tobacco companies then got together — all of them despite officially being competitors — to hire a a major public relations firm to discredit the surgeon-generall’s report — with a fair degree of success. Generally they achieved this by outright lying as well as suborning scientists to do research that muddied the waters for public consumption. At the same time, a bunch of anti-tobacco civil society groups and NGOs formed in North America to add to the Surgeon-General’s research, and promote policy solutions to governments — such as heavier taxation on tobacco to discourage youth from taking up the habit, and prominent warnings on packages, and making it illegal to advertise tobacco products , and so forth. And the NGOs used pretty much the argument you are giving here: It isn’t only the users of the product, it’s the others who are affected by it — such as the non-smoking restaurant server dying of cancer caused by second-hand smoke. Also — although at first the smokers were seen as the perpetrators, eventually the anti-smoking groups recognized that smokers were also the victims of ruthless corporations willing to sell and promote a product they knew to be deadly and addictive and even harmful to non-users.
    You’ll soon be seeing corporate pushback orchestrated by slick PR firms against BLE if you are not seeing it already. But most likely the pushback itself will also draw attention to the issue and garner you some “free” support from citizens’ groups. You are a hero, Susan.

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  44. Kathleen Lee

    Nice connection.

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  45. Debbie Charron

    Hi Susan,
    As a bright Line Eating Grandma, with a daughter who also follows Bright Line Eating, I have had to come to grips with sugar consumption for my 2 granddaughters age 2 & 6. For several years they came for dinner on Sunday evening which would always include a baked dessert. It was the question my oldest granddaughter would ask coming into the house, “what’s for dessert?” as young as age 3. I was an accomplished gluten free baker. Since following bright line eating fruit is usually on the menu for dessert with a bought gluten free treat for extra special occasions such as Christmas. Good or bad for the youngest defines me as the food grandma since they always eat a meal when they come to my home. I have started looking for other types of “treats” for them, They currently love any type of glow sticks, bracelets, etc., inexpensive jewelry and stickers, I have recently bought a number of games that they can play while they are here. I will continue to look for ways to “treat” my granddaughters without using food.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      That time spent with their loving “food grandma” is probably the best treat of all, Debbie! 🧡

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    2. Nili Marcia

      Excellent way to help your grandchildren, Debbie!

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  46. Toni LaChine

    Fantastic weekly vlog. So glad I’m in this community of recovery from F and S. In fact, today is my 3rd anniversary of no sugar. Gave it up before I actually started BLE. Thank you, Susan for the information of your continued research and education to health and wellness!!! CHEERS!

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  47. Beachteach

    Wow! I am going to pass this VLOG along to many people. So well said and expressed.
    As a teacher this is something that schools need to address and make a priority.

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  48. Donald Glenn Theiss

    Great Susan!!!!! So clear and to the point ……………..we are models for our children …………..what we eat, drink is a social pattern we can change with knowledge and guidance in changing what we are putting in our mouth and the effect it is having on our well being.

    Thank you,
    Don Theiss

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