Don’t be fooled by the marketing – sugar is the devil. Specifically, it turns kids into devils! Over the last three days – a long weekend in Australia, my kids smashed various sugary concoctions and the results are in. Sugar + kids = devils. It’s not just the manic high that prompts kids to become monsters, its the raging low as their blood sugar dips into the abyss before it can come back to level ground. I’m not sure which part of the cycle is worse – the mania or the raging. All I know is for parents there is no happy time until that terrible stuff exits their systems. We don’t have a very sugary diet for our kids – not really by choice, but more by circumstance. With the little bloke into the Nutrigrain (which is full of sugar) he was crazy. We accused him of not listening but the reality is, his little 3 year old brain was in overdrive and he was a passenger to the crazy.
Sugar has a long and sordid history in my family – and my addiction to Coca-Cola’s Coke product was an outcome of that. 4 years ago I read a post (that I can’t find) about what happens when you drink a Coke. Long story short – the amount of sugar in it should make you throw up, but the chemicals in Coke keep you from doing that (which is why it’s a hangover cure for many people) and it puts your body into a sugary overdrive from hell. We are adapted to go for the sweet stuff – lots of energy over a short time, but this is an old evolutionary trick when food was scarcer. We haven’t evolved as quickly as our foods have and hence the amount of energy available via food to us – particularly through sugary stuff, is causing all sorts of societal problems, the least of which is still concerning. These include obesity and diabetes and in my experience it’s also tied in with behavioural problems.
For my little darlings we have tested it carefully – a little tiny bit of sugar is fine. A lot – say from a fairy floss or 5+ marshmallows and the behavioural change is significant. To say the kids become very different is to understate the case. The behavioural changes are enough to warrant a serious review of sugar in our life. I’ve cut down a lot over the years and I wonder how much it’s changed *my* behaviour. I once had 3.5 sugars in a coffee, even a mocha and now I’m down to 1. Zero is the goal and I’ve started it – slowly. That’s been the key for me. But for the kids – they don’t have the bad habit yet – if they get it, it comes from us and that’s all our fault. So we have to start on this immediately. Generally they don’t get fizzy drinks so that’s easy. Cutting down on lollies to special occasions – also relatively easy. Managing foods that have surprising amounts of sugar in them – that’s a bit more tricky. Even fruit is full of fructose which is a type of sugar. Too much and we have the same issue I’m trying to avoid here. Muesli bars and snack things for the kids – some of these items are *full* of sugar?! What the! They should be bare of it. Just grains and maybe some natural sweetness of some type.
The sugar industry is geared towards profit, and they’ve spent a lot of money promoting their products. As a parent, its worth being aware of this, and how sneaky they can be in getting sugar into stuff. After a very difficult weekend of highs and lows our awareness has blossomed from meh to What the hell!? We’ve started looking at cereals and snacks with new eyes, at drinks with a microscope and foods with the gaze of a hunting hawk. Yes it was a traumatic weekend for everyone. And one thing was firmly rooted in it all. Sugar. It may not be the *only* factor, but it was the one thing that we could test easily and it showed up to have a very significant effect. Keep an eye out for the sugar content in foods and drinks. It is surprising.