When I was a child decades ago, candy was a part of birthday parties and holidays scattered throughout the year, but it wasn’t a daily source of calories as it is for children today. Few children come home from school each day without having eaten some sort of chocolate, lollipop, or sugary substance. It may even have come to them as part of their school lunch in the form of fruit juice or chicken nuggets with ketchup, to name a few options.
During Halloween, when every sweet candy imaginable is made available, sugar becomes a primary source of calories for our children … and perhaps you, too. Let’s face it, Halloween is just the start of the holiday indulgences. How can we guard our children – and ourselves – from the assault that sugar brings?
What’s the big deal about all that sugar? Let’s review.
- Sugar is tasty, but it offers empty calories – with no nutrients to support your body’s function. Eating sugar regularly results in negative effects to numerous systems in the body.
- Sugar breeds bad bacteria which erodes tooth enamel. Somewhere along the way, the idea that sugar leads to tooth decay got downplayed in the media and our health system. The trouble with decay goes beyond mouth, as it can contribute to heart disease and even cancer.
- Steady consumption of sugar can result in development of a fatty liver, which brings a whole host of challenges.
- Did you know that sugar is highly addictive?
What’s a parent to do? There are some painless ways you can wean your children off sugar to help detox their bodies. And it’s always beneficial for the adults in their lives to set the example. Why not use these methods to wean off sugar as a family?
- Put clean protein on the plate. Protein is known to balance blood sugar and insulin levels. Adding some greens to the plate provides sustainable energy that helps our children do better in class and not have the mood swings that sugar causes. You can serve the protein and greens up in a glass by blending a low-sugar protein powder with the greens into a smoothie.
- Drink lots of water. Adding citrus to the water can make it more palatable, and is known to support energy levels. To make this more intriguing for your children, give them a selection of essential oils that are safe to ingest and help them add 1-2 drops to their water. I would be glad to advise you on good options.
- If you choose to indulge for a special occasion, give your body a break with your other food choices. Avoid the processed foods that are commonly marketed to children as healthy – including Mac and Cheese, fruit juice, Fruit Roll Ups, which are packed with sugar and cause a significant blood sugar spike. Stick with live foods such as fresh meat, veggies, fresh fruits and nuts. Fruits and sweet veggies can be a great replacement for candy because of their sweet flavor.
- Give your children healthy fat to eat. Despite it’s reputation, eating fat doesn’t make us fat – eating sugar makes us fat. Healthy fats include avocados, fish, almonds, walnuts, nut butters, and full-fat plain yogurt or kefir. These healthy fats can help to reduce sugar cravings.
- Get plenty of sleep. Make sure your kids (and you!) are observing reasonable bedtimes nightly during holiday vacation times so your body can recharge and repair.
Have you seen evidence that sugar is wreaking havoc in your family? What is your plan to reduce its impact this holiday season? If you don’t set a plan, there’s little hope that anything will change; yet every step you take to reduce your family’s consumption of sugar is a step to pursue wellness. It is well worth the effort!