You love your kids but they really know how to push ALL of your buttons, am I right? Could it be possible that some of the foods in their diets are causing them to act up? Read on to find out if food and nutrition can help tame the little monsters living in your home!
Adulting is hard. Parenting is harder. It's like adulting on drugs but grown on three different planets and administered by aliens. Nobody gets it at first and we’re all just winging it to the best of our abilities (please tell us we’re not alone here?). Our Quad Cities-based meal prep service is designed to save you the trouble of meal planning, grocery shopping, washing and chopping produce, cooking and cleaning so that it’s a bit easier to get you and your family fed (sorry we can’t help with the other 172 items on your to-do list!). But, what if we could also shed some light into your toddler's terrible two's (and three's), your teenager's moodiness and everything in between?
One study found that increased sugar intake interferes with the ability of the brain to function normally, or even remember little details about one’s environment in the event that it’s consumed in large quantities before adulthood.
Possessed by Sugar Demons
#Mood. Children are moody. It's just a part of their DNA and should come with a warning label (WARNING: may present with all moods in less than 60 seconds, then repeat all moods over and over again throughout each and every day like possessed Energizer bunnies). But what if they could be less moody? Wouldn't that make your life better....and theirs? Watch them the next time they have a heaping bowl of ice cream or other sugary treats, especially if it's been a few hours since their last sugar spike. They might get excited and wired for a moment and then the mood kicks in....the crying, anger, tantrums and tears. Or, worse yet, when they see the sugary treat and are told "no," it's probably best to just exit stage left!
If you've ever heard that sugar is more addicting than cocaine, it's true. And its impacts go well beyond the waistline. We’re talking about the white, ultraprocessed stuff, not the healthy sugars from fruit and honey that our bodies need. Excessive sugar levels in children can interfere with neurotransmitters, which stabilize moods and lead to depression and anxiety. It can also wreak havoc on the part of the brain that stores memories and their corresponding senses and emotions. Similar to that of cocaine, the dopamine response interferes with normal brain function. Basically, it's one hot mess up in there!
“Children younger than 2 years should have no sugar at all,” adds Dr. Gaydos.
Children & Disease
Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California at San Francisco, reports that children are getting diseases that we don't typically see in young people, but are normal in alcoholics (fatty liver, for example). Type 2 diabetes is also on the rise, nearing the incidence of type 1 diabetes in children. How? Because sugar and alcohol are metabolized exactly the same. Alcohol is fermented sugar, after all.
And, since children aren't armed with the ability to choose a balanced, wholesome diet on their own, those of us doing the adulting are 100% responsible for their well-being. No pressure! While it might sound obvious or too simplistic, sugar is essentially a wolf in sheep's clothing. It seems so innocent, especially when the FDA approves massive amounts to be used in foods that are marketed directly to children. What is UP with that?? Just as we protect our children from harm like bullies, hazardous chemicals in your cupboards, smoking, drugs and alcohol, protecting them from sugar and other ultraprocessed foods is also necessary and important! We are their safety helmets for excessively bad food, great body image and long term health.
Are You Saying We Should Give Up All Sugar and Sweet Treats?
No, but it's more important now than ever to use your discretion. When sweet treats are out of sight, they're often out of mind, too. By definition, they are meant to be occasional treats, not part of our daily meals.
noun noun: treat; plural noun: treats 1. an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure
Rewarding your children with stickers, a jar full of marbles, playtime or other inedible items teaches them valuable lessons and helps curb that emotional eating habit most of us have grown to know all too well. If we can lead by example, that helps, too. If there’s something you just can’t give up, perhaps enjoy it while the kids aren’t looking!
It’s okay to have some fun and enjoy sweet treats when it's time to indulge (guilt-free) but make them count! Rather than opting for fruit juice or highly processed desserts devoid of any nutrition, try making something at home so that you know exactly what you and your children are eating. It’s surprisingly easy to sneak in some nutrition (even in the form of vegetables) and Coach Khloe has some great tips in an upcoming blog on that. Plus, making treats at home gives your kids the opportunity to help, which the younger ones typically love and, if we’re lucky, the older ones will tolerate. A perfect beginner recipe is these energy balls (similar to our peanut butter balls - sorry but we can’t give out any trade secrets!) - no chocolate chips needed!
“The worst sugars are in processed foods, sports drinks, pop, desserts and fruit juice,” says Dr. Pomeranets, adding, “Don’t rush to introduce fruit juice — it has no nutritional value.”
As you watch your kids cut back on some of these ultraprocessed, sugar-filled foods, you’ll see their taste buds shift to a place that maybe tolerates nutritious foods they previously wouldn’t touch. It takes some time but it can be done and Khloe is a walking, talking example. Her first child was introduced to the standard American diet (SAD) from birth but the whole family has transitioned over since learning its many devastating effects. It’s not that her family doesn’t ever indulge in sugar (balance!), but they do their best to limit it in their home. Her three girls are her passion for bringing Prep to Table meal prep service to the Quad Cities!!
We'd love to hear your tips for keeping sugary treats at arm's length in today's world!! It's no easy feat but we also know that ‘where there's a will, there's a way,’ and, it honestly may not be as hard as you think. Remember, perfection is not the goal. Having keen awareness, occasional treats, DIYing with nutrition in mind and doing your best is a great starting place for keeping those crazy little monsters at bay (e.g. pushing fewer of your buttons)!! What to do about all the other parenting struggles is beyond our pay grade or skill level, however. Sorry!