The reality is most children love sugar. Sugar not only tastes good, but also the brain requires sugar in order to function. However, consumption of refined sugar is addictive and detrimental to a young person’s health. It is well understood that excess sugar intake can lead to childhood obesity and diabetes.
It is very easy to consume a large amount of sugar when gulping down a soda, energy drink, or lemonade. Even fruit juice (with no added sugar) contains a lot of natural sugar, which produces the same harmful effects. Try making fresh juice with a mix of fruits and vegetables such as celery, carrot or spinach. Better yet, encourage your kids to eat whole fruits for the fiber, which can slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Another way to minimize the effect of sugar is to eat high protein foods such as eggs, fish, chicken, nuts, tofu, and quinoa.
Message from a Mother:
As a mother of two, I can appreciate how difficult it can be to make smart, healthy beverage choices for our children. Since my children were little, I have always watered down their juice; ½ water and ½ juice. When I pack my kids’ lunches, I always try to keep the amount of juice to a minimum. But my kids love juice, and at school many sugary drinks are available to them: fruit punch, chocolate milk, fruit juices, Gatorade, etc. Although I pack them water, I know they have other choices within their reach. And when we go out during the summer, they are constantly thirsty and craving flavored drinks. What is a mom to do? How can I get them to make healthier choices?
Well, I presented them with visual facts. Their dentist, Dr. Linda Lott in Oak Park, who specializes in Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, has a wonderful display (see photo below) that indicated just how much sugar is in each of their favorite drinks and the results blew them away! My younger daughter was so impressed by the results that she now looks at all her drinks and tells me how much sugar is in each drink. She realizes that those drinks with high sugar content are not good for her and she is making healthier choices. My teenage son immediately cut back on power drinks and has been making smarter choices as well. I also talked with Dr. Swauger, who is another Pediatric Dentist, he also wrote an article for parents on wisdom teeth titled Wisdom Teeth, What You Need To Know .
I come from a family that suffers from diabetes; I just lost my father to his battle with diabetes this year. So as a parent, I worry about my children’s sugar intake. But working here at the Tao of Wellness has taught me a good balance to keep myself and my children healthy by making healthier choices.
One of the best habits I’ve adopted from my mother growing up is to make my own fresh juices at home; strawberry, watermelon, pineapple, lemonade, cantaloupe, orange juice and my favorite: beet, carrot, celery, pineapple, orange and apple juice. In addition, I like to add cucumbers and lemon to my children’s water to make it more interesting, giving them a nice refreshing taste.
I hope that moms pay closer attention to the drinks they give their kids during the summer and throughout the year, and teach their kids to make healthier choices. So go on moms – spread the word to other moms and help keep our kids healthy!
Stay cool and healthy this summer!