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We hear all sorts of things about sugar, that it’s bad and also that it’s not so bad after all. Although being too alarmist can have a counter-productive effect, I think it is important to understand a bit better about sugar. Here’s a few facts as well as a few tips on cutting down the amount of sugar your child consumes. And YES! a fun little video to watch en famille!

Sugar is bad, really?

Why is sugar bad for you? If you do an internet search, there will such an avalanche of articles that you might just want to run away.

In a nutshell: sugar weakens the immune system, it can cause  hypoglycaemia, (low blood sugar that causes weakness and loss of energy), acidity in the body (can cause arthritis and joint pain), mood swings, decline in tissue elasticity and function (yes, also “orange peel”and cellulite, ladies! ), it can, in large amounts, cause diabetes, etc…the list is long!

What’s especially bad is to eat the wrong form of sugar, and in too much quantity.

Sugar

Public Enemy n.1 in Health today

Sugar has been declared Public Enemy Number One in the UK as it could bankrupt the NHS in 20 years.  If nothing is done to change the current eating habits, hospitals will be overwhelmed by 2025 as the projections speak about 4 million people with diabetes condition in the UK. That’s about 400 new cases everyday, 17 every hour.

Sugar and the food industry

Sugar is found in many processed foods. Not only in the obvious places (candies, cookies, sodas) but also in prepared meals, in sandwich bread, pizza, ketchup, barbecue sauce, canned vegetables, etc. Just read the labels and you will find it in nearly 80% of the processed food you buy, disguised under many names (read more here)  especially HFCS which stands for high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is a cheap additive (usually made form genetically modified corn) used in hundreds of processed foods .

We consume much more sugar than we need. The food industry has the money and tools to try and convince us that sugar in all its forms is not bad for us.

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Sugar and children

Taking nutrition and kinesiology courses, I feel informed enough to recommend  thinking about the sugar intake of your family and especially of your children.

Many studies have shown that excessive sugar consumption by children can contribute to, and may even cause, attention deficit disorder (ADD), difficulty concentratingtooth decay, obesity and strange behaviour. Sugar is quickly digested to glucose, the food of the brain, and in large amounts makes  the neurons in the brain go haywire and cause children to manifest disruptive behavior.

Excess sugar weakens the immune system by creating an imbalance in the digestive tract between the good and bad microorganisms.  It’s a very complex system that protects us from infection, but excess sugar undermines it from functioning properly.  In fact, it assists the uncontrolled growth of bacteria and fungi, for example candida albicans and other infections.

Children, especially before going to school, should eat a sugar- free breakfast. Easier said than done – many families have the habit of eating processed cereals or jam on toast in the morning,  but I strongly believe that if you are convinced yourself and if you explain to the kids why sugar is bad fro them, they will understand and listen.

Replacing white refined sugar with raw sugar is already a great improvement. Refined sugar is a poison because it has been depleted of its vitamins and minerals, an will in return steal the body’s minerals. It provides only “empty” or “naked” calories which are not digestible in a beneficial way. Replacing sugar with honey, or simply fruits is even better. And giving a fruit or dry fruits to your children for snacks instead of cookies or  industrial snacks will be highly beneficial.

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A small experience to do with children, mind blowing

To convince your children about what you’re saying, you can propose them to make a little experiment. Ask them to sacrifice their baby teeth (apologies to the tooth fairy!) and drop it in a glass of coca cola. Within 2 days the tooth will have completely disappeared – vanished!

A breakfast tip

In the morning, instead of eating the usual “cheerrios” or “rice crispies” (poor nutrition qualities and loaded with refined sugar), try preparing a good old porridge.  1 cup of oat meal with 1 cup 1/2 of milk or non-dairy milk, cook at high temperature until it starts to bubble a bit. Add a bit of butter, nuts or fruits or dried fruits or all the above, honey if the kids really have a sweet tooth (but oat meal is already naturally sweet). That will take about 3-4 minutes and your child will eat something warm instead of cold milk from the fridge, which is better for the digestion. And if you also add an egg yolk to that, they will have the proteins to fire their brains, instead of the sugar to weaken them.

And finally…a funny little video, featuring a family of bears

To watch with the whole family! Click here to view. 

Special thanks to Claire Snowdon-Darling of balancedwellness.co.uk for mentioning this video!

Read here about sugar alternatives.

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More health related articles on Pirouette :

– About children’s nutrition

– About the danger of bad sunscreens 

– List of great documentaries around food and environment