Its Effects on Kids and How to Make Their Sugar Intake Healthy and Still Enjoyable!
With so many sugar-laden goodies all around us at the holiday time, both adults and kids fall prey to its lure! It’s hard to enter an office without bumping into sugary goodies, and it’s hard to pass right by stores, especially bakeries, without wanting to stop in and buy something. It’s hard not to say – just this one time (as if)! And everything is so aromatic. So many traditional recipes are handed down generation to generation, and frankly, the food is just delicious. We know the value of all the good associations we have with food, especially holiday food. But we also know what kind of effect it can have on kids’ overall health, moods, and behavior throughout the holiday season, especially when parents and kids are under a lot of stress.
Aside from general heart health, weight health, etc., scientists have also shown that high levels of sugar negatively impact a child’s brain, inclusive of feelings and thoughts. Also, memory can be impaired from too much sugar in a kid’s diet, as well as helping to create metabolic disturbances (think insulin-resistance and diabetes). Remember too that there is a correlation (if not a causation) between insulin resistance and cancer, heart problems, and dementia. Neurotransmitters, which keep moods stable, are impacted when kids eat a great deal of sugar. So, they may appear to be angry, irritable, unable to focus, tired, and depressed. They may be more prone to starting fights. Sugar may also be implicated in addictive responses in the brain. In a Yale University study, participants’ brains were activated in the reward center, when just seeing a milkshake. This also happens with the drug cocaine by the way!
There is something you can do about this. Take charge of what goes into your kids’ mouths (and yours, too, while you’re at it)! If you decide to avoid typical sweet treats (much easier said than done), try purchasing or baking them yourself. There are many recipes and increasing numbers of products for purchase that are delicious yet do not contain refined wheat flour or sugar, honey, maple syrup, or other types of sweeteners which can spike your insulin. However, it is wise to avoid conventional sweeteners (think pink packets, blue packets, etc.), and instead look for the healthier ones such as stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol, among others. Although they may be an acquired taste, they really do make a great substitute. Try using nut flours like almond flour, or the favored coconut flour. (Basically, think low carb.) Really, the internet is full of wonderful sugar- and flour-free recipes. Some good keywords to use are keto, low carb sweets, keto-friendly desserts, etc.
Think about how wonderful it will be to see your kids in happy anticipation during the holiday festivities without the negative behavior. No sugar-highs … no sugar crashes! Perhaps cooking and baking together, if your kids are interested, is a wonderful way to teach your kids healthier cooking and just to have some high-quality family time. Better, more even moods make for easier, lower-stress, and more cooperative relationships at a time when it really counts … the holidays! But think about this, as well – you can have this year around by making this a more permanent lifestyle change.
We at Health and Wellness Online want to wish you a happy, holistically healthy holiday season!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.