-Does your child ask for sweet foods all the time?
-Does she have meltdowns that end in tantrums or tears?
-Is he impulsive, restless, and wildly dramatic or talk a lot and fast?
- Does your child have a hard time paying attention or lock in on a task and then forget to do anything else?
-Does she cry easily and frequently?
- Is he moody and exhibit low self-esteem?
-Does your child have a lot of allergies, or persistent ear infections? Is he overweight?
All of these things may sound like normal childhood behavior, or everyday life. “Mood swings, inability to concentrate, temper tantrums, and the most significant-low self-esteem are all the affects of too much sugar in your child’s diet.” Says Kathleen DesMaisons author of Little Sugar Addicts.
Knowing how horrible sugar is for us, and especially our children, makes me want to jump up and down and shout “STOP GIVING THEM SUGAR!!!” Also knowing that will not help the situation and that a softer approach is always better, I try to contain myself and help those who are ready to be helped. I know how difficult it can be, so no judgement. Just a little education .
Little children don’t handle or process sugar the same way as an adult. You may be surprised at how strong an effect a small amount of sugar has on a child’s body. “ If you have an adult who drinks a 12 ounce can of soda (40 grams of sugar)”, explains DesMaisons “they are having one gram of sugar per four pounds of body weight. But if you give a can of soda to a 40 pound child, the dose relationship is very different. For a child that is the equivalent of four cans or a six pack”!!!
What does sugar do to kids? It effects their brains and bodies, blood sugar, serotonin and beta endorphin levels.
Serotonin is affected by sugar. “ Serotonin is a chemical that quiets the brain,” writes DesMaisons. It makes us have a feeling of well being and peacefulness. “Sugar sensitive children have lower levels of serotonin than other children.” By changing diet, these levels can be raised, creating more self-confident, in-control children with a much happier outlook.
Beta-endorphins, DesMaisons calls “ the brains own pain killer”. Children who are sugar sensitive are much more sensitive towards physical and emotional pain. Children who eat too much sugar tend to feel inadequate and unworthy, even if they are smart”, once the sugar wears off.
From all the research I have read over many years, I can say with confidence that the precursor to all addiction is sugar.
Researcher Dr. Robert Lustig says sugar is as addictive as cocaine according to brain scans.
Kiber Stanhope, a biologist at the State University of California Davis, believes that a calorie is not just a calorie and over consumption of high fructose corn syrup increases the same risks as sugar.
In his article in the Huffington post Dr. Mark Hyman wrote “people can be biologically addicted to sugar in the same way we can be addicted to heroin, cocaine or nicotine. Binging and addictive behaviors are eerily similar in alcoholics and sugar addicts. In fact most recovering alcoholics often switch to another easily available drug: Sugar.”
For those with personal struggles with food addiction, remember it is not a moral failing or lack of will power. There is help available.
In my practice I see many children. I have witnessed the huge change in their self-esteem and confidence when they are taken off sugar. I am here to tell you it’s not impossible!! Many parents are seeking help and the results are astounding!! Teachers are the first to comment. “ He’s a different child, so focused and calm.”
These are results that make my heart sing!! I have clients as young as 6 years of age who proudly proclaim “I don’t eat that, its not healthy!” When they are offered sugar laden treats. They influence their peers and become empowered to make good choices.
DesMaisons has seven steps to fight sugar and its effects:
1.Eat breakfast with protein: and do it within the first hour of waking, to beat a drop in blood sugar.
2.Make connections between food and mood. Never reward a child with food-especially sweets.
3.Change snacks. Children under the age of 18 should eat every 3 hours to avoid a drop in blood sugar. In addition to good, well-balanced meals, your child should get several high-protein snacks throughout the day.
4.Eat protein lunches. Foods like poultry and meats, eggs and nuts are all essentials.
5. Cut any white flour breads and pastas from your diet.
6.Take out the sugar. (“Notice that taking out sugar is not step one. It is step six,”)
7.Take care of life. Relax have fun and spend time with your family.