How Sweet Can Your Kids Be?
Dr. Andrea Scholten, ND
Summer is finally here and so are the ice cream trucks and popsicle stands taunting your children with their bright colors, delicious sweetness, artificial flavorings and thirst quenching appeal. Your Doctors, Naturopaths, Dentists etc. have all told you not to give your kids sugar, but how do you resist?
Well, it’s not easy, but, if you can offer healthy, equally delicious alternatives and have them on hand in a pinch, it will be worth it, not only financially but also for you and your family’s health.
The first question is, is it worth all the fuss to reduce sugar in your children’s diet? Hopefully the following enlightening facts will be convincing…
A study done in 1973 showed that 100g (1/2 cup) of sugar suppresses white blood cells from fighting infection for up to 5 hours after ingestion. This is the same amount of sugar found in 1L of pop. (Am J Clin Nutr November 1973 vol. 26 no. 11 1180-1184
Linus Pauling and his researchers in the 1970’s found that glucose competes with vitamin C in the white blood cell, therefore lowering the amount of vitamin C available and reducing their ability to fight infection.
High sugar diets have been implicated in a number of chronic diseases including: diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression and cancer. They also contribute to acne, chronic yeast infections, allergies and asthma, IBS, mood swings and personality changes often related to ADD/ADHD.
Sugar has zero nutritional value, and fills us up on empty calories, therefore robbing us of the important vitamins and nutrients we would be getting if we ate real food.
So, with this in mind, how can we provide delicious, thirst quenching snacks without all this deleterious health effects listed above? Here are a few ideas to help.
Fruits in general are a great alternative to ready made snacks. They contain naturally occurring sugars as well as vitamin C. Real fruit ice pops: Take your child’s favorite fruits, peel if needed, blend in a blender and pour into ice pop moulds of your choice (add water if needed).
My favorite is watermelon (add some chocolate chips for an extra treat).
Make your own ice cream. Investing in an ice cream maker can be a big help to making healthy kids snacks. Many recipes are available for using dairy alternatives like coconut, almond or rice milks and you can use honey and/or maple syrup to sweeten.
Dried fruit and nut bars: Using a food processor, combine a mix of dried fruits, nuts and seeds of your choice. Roll into a ball and place between two sheets of wax paper and roll it flat. Cut into bars and store on the counter or in the refrigerator.
Summer is a great time for taking your kids on a ‘U-pick-farm’ adventure. It’s a great way for kids to see how real food is grown and to experience the taste of freshly picked produce.