We could all benefit from more love, less sugar, more savory to sugary snacks. This is about bringing sweet treats into a rare, novel category rather than routine and expected. Not only can this improve overall health, but your cravings for sweets will drop and satiety will increase! If you have a child who looooves sugar, this post is for you.
I’m writing to you today after having taken a midday walk with my dog to the local park, for him to sniff and me to swing. This is something I have recently promised the child-like part of me as part of a “play every day” paradigm.
While I was swinging, the mother of a young boy says, “In thinking about what we want to do next, would you like to go to the bakery or to the ice cream shoppe?” His response did not go unnoticed. By me.
He did not respond verbally, although there was an audible kind of grunting noise coming from his mouth and throat, as he kept pushing a swing back and forth (no one on it) and seemed very content in this meditative act. Not answering or just plain ignoring the question posed to him.
Snacks to savor
This story reminds me of taking my niece out on a hike after school, years ago. Her mom sent me on my way with the suggestion that “Piper is always hungry after school so you’ll want to bring her a snack.” To which I responded, “great, I’ll bring an apple.” Her reply was something along the lines of “yea, good luck with that” plus a chuckle. I picked up my niece and we drove to the local King Soopers (grocery). Walking in, I let her know that she could pick out any one fruit and one vegetable in the entire produce section. Her eyes widened as she smiled and gravitated towards an apple and then a carrot. I took a moment to explain that apples in particular are heavily sprayed with chemicals to reduce pests, and that these pesticides are unhealthy for us to consume (see Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen list here).
So we opt for organic on the apple. She ate both between the time we leave the store and arrive at our destination just ten minutes later – and was happy as a clam.
What I’d like for us all to consider with our children, and any kids in our lives for that matter, is to try offering love over sugar, vegetable snacks over sugary ones, and options to overindulging. I love my niece and I want what is best for her. In lieu of talking about the addictive qualities of sugar, the ways in which sugar will spike her blood sugar, followed by a crash in energy, I just want to give her choices. When given the option, the freedom for her to choose, my niece was elated with the quest.
If you do this already, awesome, and Bravo to you!
I can already hear some of my friends that have kids saying, “fat chance, that won’t work with my kid!” I get it. For some, the pattern has been developed. Your kid is a sugar-fiend! (p.s. my niece, Miss Sugar Fiend herself, grabbed the opportunity when presented to her).
Ok, so know that there are options. Begin with titrating down, take baby steps to reduce sugar intake. The goal would be less than 10 grams per sitting or serving, of natural and added sugar, including fruit juices. Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey contains 38 grams of sugar in one serving. Using this example, less than 10g of the Chunky Monkey looks like one small scoop, rather than 2/3 of the container (which is what is indicated on the package as “one serving”). Add a few fresh berries, raw unsalted nuts, and you’ve provided some fiber to this tasty treat, which will help the body process the sugar!
Did you know? To make 8 ounces of orange juice, it takes at least 4 oranges. When does a child, or adult for that matter, consume 4 whole oranges in one sitting? And this 8 oz of juice is 18 grams of sugar (and does not usually contain the fiber/pulp)! Consider watering down the juice drink next time you go out for breakfast, or split that glass of OJ with your child.
Let’s all consider for a moment what happens when we eat a bowl of ice cream or a Big Mac, for example. The brain’s response is a flood of happy chemicals (like dopamine). When we eat that Big Mac again our brain naturally looks for an even happier response, requiring two Big Mac’s (at some point), to feel the same level of happy as what that first one delivered.
Other bits to digest? A Big Mac also contains high fructose corn syrup, something to consider removing altogether from our diets. Many buns and bread contain sugar as a sweetener and binder (the sauce in a Big Mac likely has sugar as well). Also, the trans fat in a Big Mac has been shown to take up to 51 days to break down or digest. Additionally, nearly 50% of one’s daily sodium intake is wrapped up in just one of these burgers. Bring back the practice of reading labels, not to limit enjoyment but for love of food. Real food, not what’s been hopped up on sugar.
Wine, by the way, has only 1 gram of sugar per serving, whereas a gin + tonic can have up to 10g sugar in just one drink. Opt for reducing the ratio of tonic to gin in these cases, or become a minimalist: just gin+lime+ice.
So, for our children’s health, let’s bring snacking and indulging back to a treat – more rare than routine. This goes for us adults as well. Reciprocity: if we ask our young ones to do this, we can build reciprocity and reliance when we practice this moderation as well. And aren’t the first few bites the best anyway? The rest succumbs to law of diminishing returns for our taste buds, our minds, and our overall health!
Reinstate the practice of reading labels
Try for 10 grams of sugar or less at one sitting (adults and children alike)
Set attainable goals and expectations (every decision is a vote for the future)