While volunteering on a field trip, I decided to check out what other kids had in their lunch boxes in search of some new ideas. I was surprised to find many of the parents had packed the same thing – Capri Sun juice, Doritos (or some other kind of chips), a sandwich (that most of the kids didn’t eat) and Oreos – primarily processed, full of sugar foods.
I posted my surprise on Facebook and a friend who I both like and respect told me to relax because that sounded like a perfectly appropriate field trip lunch. I should mention that this friend is extraordinarily brilliant , a really good mom and sadly very in touch with how most of us think. “It’s no big deal”, “a little sugar won’t hurt them” “kids are resilient”.
I totally understand where she is coming from because that’s where I was coming from for a long time. It is a lot of work to limit sugar for ourselves and our kids. Our world is full of sugar, from the chocolate milk, juice, muffins and scones on display at Starbucks to the “healthy” fruit rolls and granola bars we give our kids to the campfire mints and cookies that we sell each year. Not to mention, Halloween, Valentines Day, Christmas and all the birthday parties and social events throughout the year.
Sugar is so ingrained in our idea of childhood that we no longer even stop to think about it. but it wasn’t always that way. Less than 200 years ago, in 1821, the average American consumed 10 pounds of sugar annually. Today that number has increased by 1400% to over 140 pounds of sugar annually. Let me say that again. THE AVERAGE AMERICAN CONSUMES 140 POUNDS OF SUGAR ANNUALLY.
Sadly, sugar has no nutritional value, so in order to digest it, we need to pull from our body’s reserves of nutrients. For example, for every one grams of sugar you consume, your body needs to pull 28 grams of magnesium (the mineral that helps us relax) from our reserves. Hence, why kids high on sugar can’t relax. Even worse, your body needs the nutrients that sugar depletes to keep the brain healthy and happy. Since these nutrients are finite, if we only deplete them and don’t replenish them (with leafy green veggies), our kids brains are going to suffer.
Obviously, this is a really difficult and sensitive issue and every parent has to do what feels right for themselves and their families. I trust that everyone reading this will make the choice that feels right for them. I just want it to be an educated choice. If you want to learn more about sugar, I’ve listed the some problems that sugar contributes to below.
1. Sugar decreases the effectiveness of the immune system.
2. Sugar can cause anxiety, difficulty with concentrating and moodiness in some individuals.
3. Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium. You need calcium not only for bones, but for every nerve function in the body (i.e. muscles moving and brain working).
4. Sugar can cause problems with eyesight.
5. Sugar can cause asthma.
6. Sugar can decrease growth hormone output, which is one of the most important hormones for muscular growth.
7. Sugar can trigger severe migraine headaches in those who are susceptible to them.
8. Sugar can worsen the symptoms of depression.
9. Sugar can cause hypoglycaemia, which will leave you feeling weak, tired and shaky.
10. Sugar can make our skin age by changing the structure of collagen.