As a parent, you want what's best for your child and that includes their diet.
While it's normal for kids to enjoy sweets and treats, it's important to be mindful of the amount of sugar they consume.
Excessive sugar intake can have negative impacts on your child's health, and removing sugar from their diet can have numerous benefits.
Sugar: The Immune-Suppressing, Inflammation-Causing Villain of Childhood Health
Did you know that sugar can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation, leading to a range of health problems in children.
Weight gain and obesity, diabetes type 2, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and even arthritis can all be linked to excessive sugar intake.
And while we may not think of most of these diseases in context with our children, it is a fact that the seeds for these illnesses are often planted in childhood.
In addition, sugar can hinder brain function, causing mood swings, hyperactivity, and difficulty focusing.
"Leaky Gut" - The Enemy of Childhood Wellness
Refined sugar plays a major role in interfering with the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and therefore also creates inflammation.
This inflammation damages the gut lining, making it more permeable. The body begins to absorb things into the bloodstream that shouldn't be there.
Once these intruders set off a cascade of inflammation, the gut becomes inflamed and struggles to efficiently and effectively absorb nutrients from food, leading to nutrient deficiencies and spreading to many different systems of the body.
The so-called "leaky gut" lining is one of the major root causes of the health issues children are experiencing today.
Long story short: By removing sugar from your child's diet, you can remove an inflammatory, immune-suppressing obstacle that may be holding your child in a sick cycle.
The sad truth about the sugar industry
Sugar is everywhere, from organic, non-GMO "health foods" to highly processed, chemically-laden foods like packaged children's candies.
The food industry hides sugar under many different names ending with the suffix -ose.
Some examples include dextrose, fructose, galactose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, glucose solids, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, maltose, and sucrose.
It's important to be aware of these hidden sources of sugar and to read ingredient lists carefully to accurately assess and control your child's sugar intake.
It can be especially challenging to control sugar intake when children are consuming processed or packaged foods, so it's important to prioritize whole, unprocessed foods in their diet.
Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided, as they can negatively impact the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
While they may not contain calories or contribute to tooth decay like sugar does, they can still have negative effects on the body.
So, what can you do to decrease sugar in your child's diet?
One option is to replace refined sugar with naturally sweet foods.
There are many great options for naturally sweet foods, including fresh or frozen fruit (cherries, blueberries, grapes, carrots baked or raw) smoothies, real maple syrup, honey, blackstrap molasses, and elderberry syrup.
Fresh fruit or vegetables can be a great source of natural sweetness and can also provide important nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes can also add natural sweetness to meals and snacks, and can be enjoyed cooked or raw.
Smoothies can be a convenient and tasty way to incorporate a variety of naturally sweet ingredients into your child's diet.
Using a combination of fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, and plant-based milk or yogurt can create a nutritious and satisfying smoothie that is naturally sweet and flavorful.
Your healthier options for satisfying a sweet tooth
Natural sweeteners such as real maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, stevia, agave syrup, and molasses can also be used as alternatives to refined sugar in recipes and drinks.
These sweeteners can provide a unique flavor and can be used in moderation to add sweetness to foods and drinks.
Elderberry syrup is another option that can add natural sweetness and has been traditionally used for its immune-supportive properties.
Beverages - the hidden sugar traps
It's also important to be mindful of the amount of sugar in drinks. Sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and fruit juices can be high in added sugars and calories, and they can contribute significantly to your child's daily sugar intake.
Water and unsweetened or minimally sweetened beverages are generally healthier options.
Limiting sugar intake can also help to reduce the risk of tooth decay in children.
Consuming sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis can increase the risk of dental caries, or cavities, and this is especially true when sugary substances are left in contact with the teeth for long periods of time, such as when children fall asleep with a bottle of sweetened drink.
3 Guidelines for removing sugar from your child’s diet as an empowered mom
- Make it a habit to check all food and drink labels and remove all foods and beverages that contain any kind of sugar from your pantry and shopping list
- Replace refined sugar with naturally sweet foods and natural sweetener options
- Take your child through a sugar detox, removing refined sugars from its diet step by step (stay tuned, there will be coming up more on that)
In conclusion, removing sugar from your child's diet can have numerous benefits for their overall health and well-being.
It can improve immune function, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, promote healthy gut bacteria, and support stable energy levels and focus. By prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods and limiting added sugars and artificial sweeteners, you can help your child to enjoy optimal health and wellness.