I know this is a strong question and I was talking about this with a friend of mine, Samantha Taylor, who is known as a Sugar Addiction Specialist. Samantha has found that sugar does act like a poison in our bodies and says, “Sugar really can poison children’s bodies, in excess, not the occasional treat here and there. And many studies show that in this society, most children do eat way too much sugar in the form of cereal, fruit drinks, soda, candy, chocolate, cookies, ice cream, processed foods and any other sugar- filled food that they consume.”
Samantha really got me thinking about this when she said, “The definition of a poison is a substance that tends to destroy life or impair health or is something harmful.” She finds that the result of this excess sugar in children is showing up in obesity; children getting sick more often including the ‘common cold’ that is not so common in children that don’t eat sugar; childhood diabetes, ADD/ADHD, poor teeth and gums and the volume of broken bones children who indulge in excess sugar have compared to those who don’t eat as much sugar.
Even though mothers love their children and would do anything for them, many don’t realize what kind of damage can be done to a child’s body by the excess of this white substance especially since it’s so socially acceptable and just tastes so good! Samantha, as well as many other health professionals, believes that excess sugar in children is a huge cause of many of the problems listed above that we are seeing in our society today.
Children can get just as addicted to sugar as adults can and you can see it in their behavior. They tend to be much more hyperactive, moodier, don’t listen to instruction as well, have a harder time settling down and beg for sugar. It has also shown up as ADD or ADHD -type symptoms, attributed to not being able to concentrate as well. Many mothers have noticed when they actually removed excess sugar from their child’s diet they saw the child’s ADD-like symptoms diminish greatly or even totally disappear.
Samantha said she even had one lady she helped get off sugar who had 3 boys that were very hyper. Hey, they were ‘just being boys’! However, when she removed sugar from their diet she was shocked at how much more attentive they were, easier to discipline, they didn’t fight her as much and she didn’t have to tell them things three times before getting results. This mom said it made raising them so much easier and enjoyable – she liked being a mom much more when her kids were off sugar!
One other challenge with children eating too much sugar, especially under the age of 12, is that their livers are not fully developed. Excess sugar can wreak havoc on a child’s liver which is another contributor to why some young kids are starting to develop fatty liver disease at a young age. Sugar has absolutely no nutrients, so in order for the body to metabolize it, the body has to extract minerals from itself to even process it – which means the body is slowly becoming malnourished.
Samantha says that the goal is really paying attention to the excess amount of sugar. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1) Get away from the habit of letting your children have sugar everyday as a treat. It really should only be a couple-times-a-month thing, if even that. Shoot for no more than once a week. However, you have to really watch out for all the sugar in the processed foods they are eating; this can really add up.
2) Watch their behavior. Most mothers are surprised when they actually start to watch for this and they see their children acting out, begging and crying out for their sugar ‘fix’. The sad thing is many times they are dealing with withdrawal symptoms from the previous times they have had sugar and their body is just trying to balance it out. How many times have you seen other people’s children in the grocery cart literally screaming out and begging, “MOMMIE! I WANT A COOKIEEE!” Sometimes moms just give it to them to calm them down (although we all know this is only a temporary ‘Band-Aid’).
3) With cereal, get the kind that doesn’t have sugar and if necessary, add the sugar yourself. This is because you will use way less sugar then is actually in the sugary cereal and most of it you add ends up in the milk anyway.
4) Get children used to having fruit, even at a young age – instead of sugar. A child raised on sugar will want it much more often than a child that is not raised on sugar. To make it more fun for them at first, you can even use some whipped cream as a ‘special dipping sauce’. Whipped cream has minimal sugar or you can get sugar-free, although I don’t highly recommend those artificial sweeteners either.
5) Reduce the amount of sugary snacks you keep in the house. It they are not there, you can’t eat them! If your children see you eating it, then they will probably want it, too. If you have a sugar addiction yourself, start to explore the options of getting rid of that addiction for yourself and your entire family.
6) I know lots of children love baking and it can be a great bonding experience but Samantha says that ‘emotional bonding’ connected to sugar is one thing that really contributed to her major chocolate chip cookie addiction as an adult! That habit she didn’t break until 30 years later!