I don’t have any kids myself yet but I hope to one day in the future. Several of my friends have kids and I like spending time with them. It’s safe to say, I am a kid person! However, something that really worries me is the amount of sugar I see kids eating nowadays. Candy, soda, juices, breakfast cereals – all contain a lot of sugar and many kids eat way too much of this type of food. Have you read my “My 20 Days No Sugar Story” ?
The trouble is that many sugary foods are marketed directly at kids so they want these foods because they’ve seen them on TV or their friends are eating them. Parents often give their kids these foods because they ask for them without really knowing the dangers of too much sugar, “How to Identify Sugar on Nutrition Labels”.
I’m not criticizing these parents – being a mom or dad is a real tough job – and I myself didn’t realize the dangers of sugar until earlier this year. However, it’s safe to say that too much sugar is bad for kids and those same kids are very likely to become unhealthy, overweight adults, “5 Healthy Reasons to Avoid Sugar “.
Habits can be good or bad
Habits can be good or bad and we learn many of our habits when we are young. That’s when we develop our likes and dislikes. Kids attitudes are heavily influenced by their parents and, as you know, habits can be hard to break too!
Rewarding or pacifying a child with sugary food creates a powerful habit that can be very hard to break, “How to Avoid Sugar ?”. That child will grow into an adult who links sugary food with feeling happy. Subsequently, they will find it hard to cut back on sugar even if they learn that it’s unhealthy or want to lose weight.
In contrast, if you give your child non-sugary treats like fruit, raw vegetables, nuts etc.,“Looking for No-Added Sugar Foods ?”, they will not develop this sugar-happiness association and, as a result, are much less likely to develop an unhealthy relationship with sugar.
Does this mean you should never give your kids sugary food? Of course not! But it should not be something that you do routinely.
The occasional sugary treat is fine but try and give them non-sugary treats the majority of the time. It’s also worth noting that a can of soda, a couple of cookies, or a candy bar contain the recommended daily amount of sugar for a fully grown adult so if a kid consumes these foods, they are actually getting way more sugar than they should.
Why kids should avoid sugar
Too much sugar is unhealthy, period. Sugar is linked to many diseases and if children eat too much sugar, they are likely to develop these diseases in early adulthood. Some kids even develop sugar-related diseases before they hit their teens.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes because it took years of eating unhealthy food to develop. Now, more and more kids are developing this nasty disease so it’s no longer called adult-onset. Until relatively recently, type 2 diabetes was very rare in children but now is more common.
Obesity is the same; it used to be very rare to see overweight kids – it took years of overeating to gain weight so it was adults that tended to be obese and not kids. Now, more and more kids are overweight and obese which causes a host of medical conditions.
Too much sugar is a big part of weight gain and ill health so it’s important that kids do not eat too much sugar.
A child needs an abundance of vitamins and minerals, and other healthy nutrients to grow and develop properly and sugar provides none of these things.
Overweight, unhealthy kids often become overweight and unhealthy adults. Why? That sugar habit they picked up from their parents all those years ago.
Educate your kids!
If you want to stop your kids from developing the sugar habit, you’ll need to educate them to the dangers of too much sugar. There is no need to scare them but you do need to explain why too much sugar all the time could cause them harm. Also provide them with healthier alternatives to sugary food such as fruit. Yes, fruit contains sugar too but it’s natural sugar which behaves very differently in your body, “Added Vs Naturally Occurring Sugar”, and is also high in essential nutrients.
You also need to lead by example; don’t say “no sugar” to your kid and then eat a big bar of chocolate in front of them! Kids hate hypocrisy so make sure you are a role model for your kids.
Why not try the 20 No Sugar Diet Challenge and get your kids to participate too? Make it sound like a game and reward them at the end – not with a cake though!
Cutting down on sugar intake could be the most important thing you do for your kids’ health. It’s never too early (or too late) to start teaching them about the dangers of sugar and what good nutrition is all about. This information will help them grow up healthy and strong so it’s essential that parents do all that they can to develop healthy eating habits with their kids.