I think most people believe that our children are eating too much sugars (Just maybe not the people in the food or sugar industry.)
I suspect even these “sugar pushers” believe their children are eating too much sugar. They are not monsters.
In her book “Little Sugar Addicts,” Kathleen DesMaisons believes (as the title implies) that our children are addicted to sugar. She might have a point. I’m writing a blog that I’ll share later about “sugar addiction,” but for now it might be helpful to keep an open mind.
To the doubters, think about being asked to get off sugar for 30 days. Just the thought of eliminating sugar can be unsettling. We love our sugar.
DesMaisons believes that many of the behavioral issues that children and teens have are caused by the over consumption of sugar. They have something called “sugar sensitivity.” She walks us through the symptoms of childhood mental health disorders, like ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and mood disorders.
“A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates,” she writes, “and low in quality protein, creates behavioral havoc and sets up huge emotional and physical problems in the future.”
Along with this, children and teens are experiencing increasing rates of obesity. All of this is likely due to the over consumption of sugar. As a result, DesMaisons suggests seven steps to avoid the negative consequences of over consuming sugar:
1. Eat breakfast with protein.
I would add, eat fruit and unrefined carbohydrates.
2. Make connections between food and mood.
I recently asked a client why they binged on sugar to the point of becoming ill. She said she liked the way it made her feel. We have these strange, but not so strange sentimental attachments to sugar. DesMaisons suggests that one of the inner demons we fight is the idea that “Sugar is Love.” I remember making cinnamon crisps with my grandmother, it was the way she loved us.
3. Change snack and drinks.
I’ll be sharing a blog on “fruit juice and sugar,” that I’ve written in weeks to come. Recently, a client was drinking a soft drink during a session. I noticed that it contained 40g of sugar. He told me that he drank 4 or 5 a day. Most fruit drinks are no better.
4. Eat protein lunches.
I would include fruit and vegetables.
5. Shift to whole grains.
She calls this “Browning your Family.”
6. Taking out the sugar.
I believe that the blind spot that DesMaisons has in her book is “added sugar.” New nutritional labeling make nutrition more transparent and allows us to determine how much sugar food producers have added to their products. Even if we restrict candy and sweets, kids are still getting too much sugar.
7. Manage holidays.
This is a tough one. I believe this process can be overwhelming to follow. I would simplify this process with two doable steps in the right direction:
- Quit buying foods that have “added sugar.” It takes work but it can be done. I do it. It’s the easy way to eliminate sugar.
- Treat sweets (sugar) as a luxury item. Have a sweet for special occasions and holidays. Don’t be afraid to splurge now and then. Have a sweet once or twice a a month, but not weekly.
- Ok, there’s three steps. Look at cutting down on refined carbohydrates.
I tried my best as a father. We did not have soft drinks or sugar snacks to around the house. We did buy foods with “added sugar” because the labels did not report the amount of added sugar.
If you have a kiddo with behavioral issues, consider going sugar-free. I know we all want the best for our children.
It’s time to step up and help them by eliminating the thing that provides almost no nutritional value and will make their lives difficult for years to come.
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