Are you torn between giving in to your child’s cravings and demands for sweets and getting frustrated at the tantrums if you don’t give in?
Isn’t it immensely stressful when some of our friends come home, and our child keeps asking us for a lollypop, chocolate or candy repeatedly, interrupting all conversation, until either we give in or say no, but only to find them throwing a massive tantrum right there? The simple truth is that children with a sugar addiction will exhibit difficult behaviour such as anger, irritability, whining, crying, screaming or shouting, all of which will disappear the moment they get a lollypop or their favorite chocolate. And the truth is that most of us would rather give in at that moment than begin the process of releasing our child from the clutches of sugar addiction.
Ever heard someone saying that children need sugar? Ever heard someone saying that children need to be children and enjoy the lollypops? Ever heard someone saying that they ate sugar all through their childhood and they are fine? I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I have heard this all the time. In fact, I finally had to stay away from most birthday parties because all they had was candies of every colour! Let’s begin with what sugar can do to your child and how can it harm them physiologically. After all, the only reason we should think of getting our child off sugar is if it is actually harming them, isn’t it?
Candies and chocolates, or for that matter, anything with refined sugar, creates severe blood sugar imbalance in your child. It might make them feel good momentarily, but, it also causes the blood sugar crash, where they can later become sleepy, lethargic, grumpy or whiny. They are then caught in a vicious loop of blood sugar imbalance, which makes them crave sugar all the time. I’ve seen so many parents starting their child’s morning with dried fruit like raisins and dates, thinking that they are eating healthy snacks. But did you know that even a dried fruit given first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach can create blood sugar imbalance, where they will then demand for a lollypop later?
Does your child keep falling sick often? Do you find your child falling prey to stomach upsets, colds, coughs and fevers often? Do you find that they are unable to recover easily and forced to take antibiotics more than it is safe to do so? Well, sugar is at the root of all of your child’s immune collapse and inability to fight infections. Don’t allow anyone to convince you otherwise, or don’t overlook it by thinking that your child is adjusting to a new school. Of course schools expose your child to multiple infections, but their immune system should be able to protect them, or even if they do fall ill, their immune system should be able to fight back and protect them. How does sugar play a role? Multiple studies have proven that white blood cell function is severely depressed when there is more sugar. In fact, just one teaspoon of sugar can depress your child’s immune system for five hours later! This is also why many children fall ill after returning from a holiday, where they’ve consumed huge amounts of sugar in every form.
Further, when your child’s body is robbed of crucial minerals like calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, chromium and zinc from eating sugar, their immune system is weakened. If you’ve tried various remedies for your child’s chronic cough, from inhalers and antibiotics to home remedies and herbs, and nothing has helped, removing sugar can definitely help.
Tasting sugar on the tongue is addictive by nature. Forget the addictions that might come later in life, the truth is that your child can actually be addicted to sugar physiologically and psychologically. Sugar releases opiates in your child’s brain, which stimulate dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and euphoria. This makes them seek out sugar in every form. It can make your child feel good, but it is not sustained, and can actually deplete neurochemicals, leading to behaviour issues as time goes along.
Finally, when it comes to how sugar harms your child, it feeds pathogenic bacteria and yeast, leading to fungal overgrowth and bacterial imbalance.
Having a child who does not fall ill often, who is balanced and calm in mood and who is alert is the wish of every parent. The process of weaning your child off sugar is possible.
As a parent, it begins with acceptance and the desire to make a change around your child’s sugar habits, knowing how connected it is to their immunity and behaviour.
Start reading labels of processed foods, if you cannot avoid all processed food right away. Maltose, fructose, sucrose, glucose, galactose and high fructose corn syrup are some of the names by which sugar is added in processed foods. Avoid feeding your child dried fruit first thing in the morning. A dried fruit might have other health benefits, but giving it later after a meal is a better way. See that you feed your child some fat, fiber and protein with every meal, to balance blood sugar. Avoid waffles, pancakes, cornflakes and fruit loops for breakfast. All of this will make your child crave sugar later. Look for connections between your child’s food and mood and use it as feedback which can support change. Finally, be patient and go slow, but atleast begin the process. It is not easy if your child is addicted to sugar. It takes time and education. Support your child’s blood sugar balance with meals that satiate. Stop bringing candies and chocolates home. Start storing healthier snacks like roasted nuts and cookies made from almond flour, coconut sugar and flax which stabilise blood sugar. If you find your child having volatile mood swings, constantly falling ill and seeking out only sugar, seek the help of a Functional Nutritionist.