Sugar, Kids and Easter
Easter is right around the corner, and I think we’re all wondering where the time has gone and how we’re already halfway through the month of April…am I right?
We’re gearing up for the Easter holiday getting together last minute Easter gifts, filling up Easter baskets with treats and knick-knacks, and stuffing plastic eggs for the pending hunt around the yard. And if you’re like me, you’re likely dreading the all the sugar that will soon be filling your home by the basketful. While we love and appreciate all the Easter baskets and love from family and friends, our house will no doubt be overflowing with Cadbury Eggs, Peeps and pastel colored M&Ms before we know it. With all the added sugar pouring through our door, we can’t help but dread how much extra attention that will be needed to brushing our kid’s teeth each night before bed. If you’re worried (like me), the good news is that you’re not alone.
A lot of parents are concerned about how all this sugar will impact our kids. Many of us are trying to figure out how we can take steps to minimize the effects of all that sugar without becoming the “mean mom,” and throwing out their Easter candy when they’re not looking… (guilty as charged).
Everything You Need to Know About Sugar and Brain Health
I know that most parents’ biggest concern when it comes to sweet, sugary treats—such as Easter candy—is typically what it will do to our children’s teeth, and rightfully so. But what you may not be aware of is the level of impact that sugar can have on your child’s brain, or even your own for that matter. (Yes—we know about all those peanut butter eggs you sneak from the candy stash after you’ve put the kids to bed). The point is, as harmless as a little bit of sugar might seem if consumed in moderation, the impact on your child’s (or your own) brain health can be surprisingly great.
Good Sugar vs. Bad Sugar
Sugar comes in many forms: dextrose, fructose, lactose, maltose, glucose, etc. There are actually more than 50 different names for it, but sugar by any name, is still sugar. I think one of the biggest questions most parents ask is, “how bad is sugar?” or “are all sugars bad for you?” To answer those common questions, there are essentially two types of sugar: there is “good sugar” that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, and then there is “bad sugar” that is added to sweeten sodas, candy, baked goods and so on.
The “good sugar” (found in fruits and vegetables) is actually needed within the body, particularly within the brain. Following a meal, food is broken down into glucose. Glucose is so crucial to cell function that glucose deprivation can actually lead to loss of conscious and eventual cell death. Therefore, after a meal, the body has a system in place in which excess glucose is stored as a reserve to help keep you functioning optimally. So, in summary, “good sugar” is essential for your basic brain functions, and not to mention, it tastes great too!
Unfortunately, now we need to talk about the dreaded effects of “bad sugar” and how ‘too much sugar’ or ‘added sugar’ can be harmful to your health. While our bodies depend on glucose for cell function and survival, too much sugar or “bad sugar” can cause an array of health issues. Did you know that on average, people ingest 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day, which is on top of the naturally occurring sugar already in our daily diet? This increase in sugar consumption has been shown to result in obesity, in both children and adults. An increased diet in these saturated fats and sugars can cause fundamental changes within the brain that can have long-term detrimental effects as well. Some of these include: impaired learning and memory issues, sugar addiction and dependency, low energy or mood imbalances (which include withdrawal symptoms such as; headaches, anxiety, cravings and even the chills). To read more in depth about the link between sugar and brain health, click here. We share several tips on sugar detoxing and 7 ways to help you get started!
What To Do About All This Bad Sugar
So the question becomes, how do we cut out the bad sugar and keep the good kind? And what do we do with Easter at our doorstep?
Although we can’t control what others put in our children’s Easter baskets, we can make sure that we give our kids healthier (yet still tasty) options or nix the treats all together and focus on other gifts and knick-nacks they’ll still enjoy. If you want to include treats check your local health food stores for natural and/or organic alternatives — there are lots of great choices out there! Futhermore, we can make sure to substitute with natural sweeteners (such as; honey, stevia, maple syrup, natural fruit juice etc.) in place of the bad sugars the other 364 days of the year. If you’re interested in a fun, healthy Easter themed recipe that doesn’t include all that processed sugar, check out these No-Bake Easter Egg Fruit Tarts!