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Image: A boy staring wide-eyed at a candy bar

Why do Swedes only Eat Sweets on Saturday?

If you were to visit Sweden on a Saturday, it would be truly difficult to ignore the sugar-induced excitement that whizzes around each corner’s sweets shop! This is because In Sweden, there is a deep-rooted tradition surrounding candy. And it’s one that could inspire the rest of us with a taste for a healthier lifestyle. 

The name of this tradition is Lördagsgodis (pronounced: lord-as-goo-dis) and it literally means “Saturday Sweets”.

Image: A boy staring wide-eyed at sweets.
Source: Unsplash

Would a piece of candy on any other day taste as sweet?

Like most things that are labeled “unhealthy”, sugar is okay for most people in moderation, in fact complete restriction might do more harm than good! 1 The Swedes have taken a very literal approach to this, dubbing Saturdays the day for candy consumption. And this is how it’s been done in their society for almost 100 years!

If you were to ask a millennial-age Swedish person why lördagsgodis is a thing, many of them would have trouble explaining it. It’s been a part of their culture for as long as they can remember, so they’ve never really questioned it. 

But in fact, there is a reason why. We must only look back on history to find out. 

It all began just after World War II ended…

Health workers noticed that the rate of cavities went down after the sugar rationing in the first world war. So, Swedish doctors decided to test the idea that cavities and sugar went hand-in-hand. 2 In an experiment that we would now deem highly unethical, doctors at the Vipeholm Mental Institution gave patients different kinds of sweets in differing amounts to determine if they caused cavities. They came to the conclusion that sugar directly affected the decay and bacterial growth on the patients’ teeth. As a result of these experiments, doctors determined that dental decay was more likely to occur when sugar was consumed often, as opposed to eating larger amounts on one occasion, more sporadically. 

Swedes took the results of this experiment to heart, and thus, the cultural movement of only eating sweets on one day a week, that we now know as lördagsgodis, was born!

Watch this short and sweet video by BBC Reel to take a look at the Saturday Sweets excitement for yourself, and see how the Swedes feel about lördagsgodis in modern times. 

P.S. There is a hot tip in this video that I bet the parents out there will find very helpful!

Via: BBC Reel 3

As it turns out, the Swedes aren’t the only ones who know how to put a cap on candy consumption. Our Goodness Exchange founder, Dr. Lynda Ulrich, has been a dentist for over 30 years and endorses using a similar strategy for sugar limitation with her patients and her own children.

Every Halloween night, she would let her kids eat as much of their trick-or-treating candy as they wanted. Whatever was leftover would get donated or given away. And of course, everyone had a good tooth-brushing session that night, complete with floss!

That’s some good ol’ lip-smacking logic right there!

Perhaps we can channel Swedish culture as our new guide for enjoying things in moderation. Sugar, alcohol, fried foods… we know these things are not great for our health, but they are part of what makes being a human a whole lot of fun!

If we set boundaries in our own lives we can still enjoy these treats, guilt-free! By setting aside special occasions for them, they might even become MORE joyful. If we begin to think of it as something to look forward to, it becomes a special occasion, which becomes even sweeter when you share it with others. 

Furthermore, when we encourage each other to be more mindful about our habits, it can have a wonderful lasting effect on ourselves and those we care about.

Thanks for reading and contributing to the goodness in the world! Now, consider this your permission slip to go on and invite your friends over for ice cream next Saturday.

Keep dreaming and notice the beauty around you!

~Renee

Did this article inspire you to take on some more mindful habits? Here are a couple more from our archives to keep the goodness going.

Ever Wondered Why You Always Have Room for Dessert?

Why is it that after even the biggest meal you still have room for dessert? You may not have two stomachs, but you do have an evolutionary trick that has helped to keep us alive for thousands of years!

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Stop Stressing and Start Living with These Helpful Meal Planning Hacks

How do we waste less food and less money? Meal planning can seem daunting, but these simple tips and tricks can make life easier, more delectable, and give us the freedom of mind to actually enjoy our food and leisure time.

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Could Your Dinner Save the Planet?

So, you’ve started recycling, maybe even use fewer straws! Is there another easy way you can easily benefit the planet? Why not start with your plate!

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Notes:

  1. Duyff, Roberta L, et al. “Candy Consumption Patterns, Effects on Health, and Behavioral Strategies to Promote Moderation: Summary Report of a Roundtable Discussion.” Advances in Nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), American Society for Nutrition, 15 Jan. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4288276/.
  2. LaMotte, Sandee. “The Swedish Cavity Experiments: How Dentists Rotted the Teeth of the Mentally Handicapped to Study Candy’s Effect.” CNN, Cable News Network, 30 Oct. 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/30/health/swedish-cavity-experiment-wellness/index.html.
  3. BBC Reel. “Lördagsgodis: Sweden’s Delicious Saturday Tradition That Prevents Decay – BBC Reel.” YouTube, YouTube, 18 Nov. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQCbJOwA51k.
Published: May 9, 2022

Image: Renee Laroche-Rheaume

Outreach Coordinator

Renee is a graduate of FIDM, and has held jobs in several industries such as apparel manufacturing, retail, professional office work, and even hospitality. Her creative outlook, wide variety of experiences, and desire to notice the beauty around us make her a great addition to the Goodness Exchange team.

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