Children are active. Their seemingly endless supply of energy can be frustrating and confusing for parents to deal with. Almost every child is active in some circumstances. It’s common to blame this high activity on conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but in many cases, diet may be a major factor in highly active children.
Many theories and studies suggest that a diet filled with sugar and preservatives can contribute to overactivity in children. As early as 1973, Dr. Benjamin F. Feingold began suggesting sugar and other ingredients as a cause of childhood hyperactivity. He even called upon the scientific community to research and test his hypothesis. Unfortunately, the science of the biochemical basis for behavior was in its infancy, and it would be decades before details of the relationship between foods and human behavior would be more fully understood.
Now, more than 40 years after Dr. Feingold’s research was presented, The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has for the first time put a limit on sugar consumption, stating that added sugar should make up only 10% of your daily calories (roughly 12 teaspoons a day for adults) because of its link to obesity and chronic disease. Many experts, including some who disagreed with the committee’s cautions about salt and saturated fat, applaud its stronger stance on added sugars.
“That was one of the high points of these guidelines, and something that was sorely needed,” says Dr. Ronald M. Krauss, the director of atherosclerosis research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. “There is a striking excess of added sugar intake in all age groups across the population.”
In April 2015, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on new research from some of America’s most respected institutions, which find that sugar consumption by Americans today can be considered toxic. Additionally, sugar is also the driving force behind obesity and other serious health problems like heart disease and type-2 diabetes which can show up as early as adolescence.
Between the new government guidelines and the labeling of excess sugar consumption as toxic by some researchers, it’s time to take a good look at the amount of sugar we are giving our children.
Here are some easy ways to reduce sugar consumption:
1.Replace sugary cereals with cereals that have no more than 10 g of sugar per serving. Tip: Steer clear of the Three C’s: “crunch,” “crisps” and “clusters.” These words usually mean there are clumps of crispy rice held together by sugar and fat. They may be tasty, but they are more like candy than a healthy breakfast.
2.Pack your child’s lunch with fresh fruit instead of prepackaged sweet treats.
3.Replace fruit-flavored yogurt with Greek yogurt. In roughly the same amount of calories as regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has double the protein and far less sugar.
4.Replace sugary sport drinks, sodas and juices with water, unsweetened teas or low-fat milk.
5.Skip the ice cream and serve homemade fruit sorbets and frozen bananas.
6.Substitute wholesome snacks and fruits for candies, cookies and cakes.
7.Make a change to natural peanut butter. Regular peanut butter contains added sugar.
8.Reduce the amount of condiments that children consume. Ketchup, barbecue sauce and salad dressings are loaded with added sugar.
9.Skip the dried fruits. They may sound healthy, but in some cases, dried fruit might as well be candy. Just ⅓ of a cup can have 24 g of sugar.
10.Granola bars can be a hidden source of added sugar. They too sound healthy, but read the label.
Start taking steps now to encourage healthy, low-sugar choices by kids and prevent health and behavioral problems for them now and in their future.