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Candy vs. Cola – The Sweetest Showdown

The push for Americans to eat healthier and be happier with how we feel and look has possibly never been stronger than it is now. And with good reason. More than 2/3 of adults in America are overweight or obese, placing them at greater risk for a host of aches and illnesses that can be prevented or treated by a healthy diet and regular exercise. But the ‘healthy diet’ is where things get tricky for many of us, particularly those of us who lead busy lifestyles. And realistically, who doesn’t?

When it comes time to cut down the cupboards and the refrigerator to the healthiest picks, we make a lot of quick, ‘obvious’ choices. Yogurt in…ice cream out. Vegetables in…potato chips out. Grilled chicken in…pork sausage out. And so forth until we’re confident we’ve accomplished the purge of badness and the pounds will fall off like leaves on a tree. Until…they don’t. And we get frustrated and fill our faces with fries and enough chocolate to melt into a river and ride away on a big boat named ‘I Give Up!’. Yeah, you could say I’ve been there! So what gives? Oftentimes, it’s dietary missteps we didn’t even know we were making. Or in the case of what we’ll be discussing, dietary missteps we didn’t even know we were drinking.

You’d probably have a difficult time finding someone who doesn’t know there is sugar in candy. In fact, many candies are comprised almost entirely of sugar. With this in mind, many people who are changing their eating habits to be healthier completely cut candy out of the equation, removing it from their diet altogether. And while that is of course an option, we wanted to let you all know that candy need not be an all-or-nothing part of your life, and that it can be a very enjoyable part of a balanced diet. Also, it may not be the most sugary thing you’re consuming.

Most of us already recognize candy as a treat. We let in linger in our mouths, bringing with it fond memories of childhood or relaxation after a long day. Our brains already know, “This is a ‘sometimes food’, and ‘sometimes’ is now! Yay for ‘sometimes’!” And we enjoy it the way we enjoy hearing a favorite song, or soaking up the sun on a Saturday. Candy is, quite simply, fun! And since we don’t typically think of eating healthy as fun, we put a big scarlet letter on candy and run away. In the meantime, many of us keep slinging back soda can after can, week after week. After all, it’s just a beverage, and we’re cutting back on foods. How much sugar can be in one little can? Certainly not as much as there is in delicious candy! Right? Wrong.

We turned to our friends on Facebook and Twitter to see which candies they would like compared to soda on the sugar and calorie scale, and the results are in! We think you’ll be quite surprised by the tempting treats you can make room for in your diet by simply cutting back on soda, one can at a time. We have listed the nutritional information for 5 popular sodas in our comparisons, with nutritional information gathered from the company websites for each.

The Candy: Lemonheads

Serving Size: 10 pieces
Sugar Per Serving: 12g
Calories Per Serving: 60

The Soda: Coca-Cola

Serving Size: 12 ounces
Sugar Per Serving: 39g
Calories Per Serving: 140

The Verdict: You can enjoy 20 Lemonheads candies (2 servings!) and still walk away having consumed 20 less calories and 15 less grams of sugar than a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola contains.

The Candy: Satellite Wafers

Serving Size: 30 pieces
Sugar Per Serving: 26g
Calories Per Serving: 158

The Soda: Mug Root Beer

Serving Size: 12 ounces
Sugar Per Serving: 43g
Calories Per Serving: 170

The Verdict: You can enjoy 30 Satellite Wafers (Yes, 30!) for 12 less calories and 17 less grams of sugar than a 12 ounce can of Mug Root Beer contains.

The Candy: Swedish Fish

Serving Size: 7 pieces
Sugar Per Serving: 30g
Calories Per Serving: 150

The Soda: Pepsi Cola

Serving Size: 12 ounces
Sugar Per Serving: 41g
Calories Per Serving: 150

The Verdict: For the same amount of calories, you can let 7 sweet fishes swim to your belly for 11 less grams of sugar than you’ll find in a 12 ounce can of Pepsi Cola.

The Candy: Marshmallow Ice Cream Cones

Serving Size: 1 cone
Sugar Per Serving: 3g
Calories Per Serving: 20

The Soda: Barq’s Root Beer

Serving Size: 12 ounces
Sugar Per Serving: 45g
Calories Per Serving: 160

The Verdict: OK, seriously. Is it just us, or are Marshmallow Ice Cream Cones practically a vegetable?! For the same calories you’ll find in a 12 ounce can of Barq’s Root Beer you can chomp away on 8 marshmallow cones and still walk away having consumed 21 less grams of sugar than you’ll find in the root beer – that’s approximately half!

The Candy: Twizzlers

Serving Size: 4 pieces
Sugar Per Serving: 17g
Calories Per Serving: 140

The Soda: Sprite

Serving Size: 12 ounces
Sugar Per Serving: 38g
Calories Per Serving: 140

The Verdict: For the same amount of calories, you can tempt your tastebuds with 4 Twizzlers and consume less than half the sugar you’ll find in a single 12 ounce can of Sprite.

Maybe candy isn’t as sweet as we thought it was after all! But on a serious note, we don’t mean to single out soda as the ‘big bad guy’. We just recognize it as one of the most common things we as a nation consume without much thought. What we hope is that if you are cutting back on sugar, you pay closer attention to the sugar that’s hiding in many places not so obvious as candy. From frozen coffee concoctions to lemonade, there’s a lot of sugar in our lives. And if we’re more mindful of it, ‘sometimes’ we can sip a glass of water while we let candy work its magic without compromising a lower number on the scale. Isn’t ‘sometimes’ sweet? :)

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