If you’ve been following my health journey – you know that I am on a mission to eliminate inflammatory foods from my diet. The research I have been doing on sugar lately is astounding. All of us have our demons with food – for many of us it is the sugar battle.
I encourage you to look at labels for sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) in everything you buy at the store over the next week. It will BLOW.YOUR.MIND. This stuff is worse than crack, but we aren’t talking about it… yet it’s making our children demonstrate ADHD like behavior, act wild, and gain weight.
What can we do?
The Sugar Battle
It’s hard to keep sugar out of our kids’ diet without making a concerted effort these days. Sugar is added to just about everything. But it’s also really bad for children, and not just because it causes cavities.
The average toddler in the U.S. consumes 12 teaspoons of sugar a day, and the American Heart Association reports the average 4-to 8-year-old consumes 21 teaspoons daily. But an adult woman should only be consuming six or less teaspoons of sugar daily and an adult man should be limited to nine teaspoons daily! Our children are consuming double to triple what adults should each day.
Sugar is often hidden in foods we’d never suspect. Most of us recognize a soda will have high levels (8+ teaspoons) but you’d probably be surprised to learn that one slice of whole wheat bread has over 5 grams of sugar (1 tsp). The ‘healthy snack’ of yogurt that we give to our kids on the reg is one of the worst offenders. Check out the sugar content in yogurt next time you’re at the store. A typical fruit-flavored yogurt has 19 grams of sugar (over 4 tsps) and 11 of that is added! A small cup of fruit cocktail – in light syrup – contains 13.93 grams (3+ teaspoons) of sugar. Most popular spaghetti sauces have more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.
It’s surprising how much sugar is in the food we think is healthy. We probably think we’re doing a great job when we send our child to school with a lunch of peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, a cup of applesauce, and fruit punch. We’ve covered protein, fiber, fruit. Healthy lunch, right? The nutrients are there, but a lunch consisting of these items also has 76 grams of sugar. 16 teaspoons. And that’s just in their lunch!
So what’s the big deal?
The problem is more than just hyperactivity caused by sugar. Sugar causes over eating – because it triggers your hunger hormones, convincing them you haven’t eaten. Sugar leads to higher blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars. Sugar overwhelms the liver and the liver will turn the excess directly to fat. All of these factors lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. The Centers for Disease Control have linked consuming to much sugar with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s a pretty big deal, especially when we note our children are consuming 3 to 6 times over their sugar limit every day.
A recent study of children showed that just nine days without processed sugar in their diets saw lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
The study, conducted at Touro University, examined the effects of removing only the processed sugars from the diet of 43 obese Latino and black children aged 9 to 18 who already had high blood pressure, too much fat in their livers, and high cholesterol. They kept the calorie intake the same. In just nine days without processed sugar, many of these harmful health conditions were improving. Additionally, the kids reported feeling fuller than normal, despite similar calorie levels, and on average lost 2 pounds each. The researchers said they’d never seen such an effective reversal on health issues in such a short amount of time.
Reducing sugar is one of the most important steps we can take to help our children lead a healthy life.
Tips to limit/reduce sugar
- Limit desserts to once or twice a week.
- Don’t drink sugary drinks, juice, and soda
- Skip the fast food and make food at home from scratch
- Eat more fruit and veggies
- Don’t eat processed foods or foods made with white flour
- Don’t replace high sugar foods with sugar substitutes – those are just as bad!
- Read labels on everything and choose foods that don’t list sugar as a main ingredient
Do you have any tips on how great snacks for kids that don’t include sugar or sugar substitutes? We’d love for you to share them!
And for the activists in the crowd – WHAT’s IN OUR FOOD is definitely an issue we should be discussing. And WHY?
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