Do your kids love sugar? Eating too much of it can make them sick. Find out why sugar’s not so sweet, and what you can do to cut sugar for good.
Most kids love sugar. Anybody who has a so-called “sweet tooth” gets why—sweet treats taste great! But too much of a good thing can be really bad—and even dangerous—for your child’s health. Learn how to spot and cut sugar from your kids’ diets once and for all.
Eating too much sugar can make your child sick. Here are some ways sugar can hurt your family’s health:
Tooth decay, also known as cavities.
Sugar makes cavity-causing bacteria grow in the mouth. The more often sugar is eaten, the more bacteria grow. For dental health, how often sugar is eaten matters more than how much—so diets that include a lot of sugary foods can damage teeth.
If your child has a habit of acting out, sugar can make these outbursts worse.
Also, when a lot of sugar is eaten all at once, a hormone called insulin spikes and clears blood sugar from the body, causing a crash. This can lead to tantrums, shakiness, or tiredness in your child—and cravings for more sugar.
Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes.
Eating sugar causes blood sugar levels to soar and insulin to release into the body. When blood sugar is high, calories that aren’t used right away are stored as fat. So eating lots of sugar over time can lead to weight gain and obesity. And when the body is constantly flooded with insulin, it becomes less able to make healthy amounts. This leads to diabetes. Learn more about diabetes here.
Sugar is made of “empty” calories that give the body energy but not the nutrients and vitamins found in whole foods. When kids get their energy from sugar, their bodies are denied the nutrition they need.
It’s easier than you might think to feed your child less sugar. Here are some things you can do:
Avoid juice, soda, and sports drinks.
These are all stuffed with sugar. Give your kids water instead. Even if your child plays sports, water will be enough to keep him or her from getting thirsty. Try adding lemon slices, lime wedges, mint leaves, or raspberries to water for some fun new flavors!
Have fun with spices.
Use cinnamon or nutmeg to flavor food instead of sugar, honey, or maple syrup. These spices are good for you and don’t add calories.
Use fresh fruit.
Fruit is nature’s candy. It’s naturally sweet and offers important vitamins to build strong bodies. Add berries to plain yogurt for a healthy, sweet breakfast. Switch a packaged snack for some apple or orange slices.
Use sugar to teach healthy habits.
In very small amounts, sugar can be a useful tool to help your child try new foods. Your child may find s/he likes grapefruit with a sprinkle of sugar on it, or oatmeal with half a teaspoon of maple syrup.
Watch out for cereal and yogurt.
These foods seem healthy but can hide tons of sugar. Look for plain yogurt or whole grain cereal to feed your child.
Aim to feed your child whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and meat. Avoid sugary drinks, added sweeteners, and food that comes in a box or wrapper. Always talk to your child’s doctor about what your child should be eating.
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© 2016 HF Management Services, LLC.
Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
“Kids and sugar—The good, the bad and the ugly,” Zouq.com. Accessed May 31, 2016. http://zouq.com/blog/zouq-kids-and-sugar/
“Negative Effects of Refined Sugar in Children,” SF Gate. Accessed October 27, 2015. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/negative-effects-refined-sugar-children-7164.html
“Nutrition and the Health of Young People,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 28, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/facts.htm
“Sugar: Does it Really Make Kids Hyper?” Parenting. Accessed October 27, 2015. https://www.parenting.com/article/sugar-does-it-make-kids-hyper