The Sugar Aftermath

Do your children’s pupils dilate when you mention the word candy?!

OK, you made it. Halloween is over! The costumes, the trick or treating, the parties, all fun! But what about the candy? What about that huge pillowcase full of “treats” you now need to manage?! Do you allow your children to eat a small portion each day? But then there is a steady stream of it in your children’s diets. Do you let them eat it all at once? But what about the aftermath? Do you just throw it out? But what a waste of resources and packaging… oh, the dilemma!

Let’s talk a bit about sugar and its health effects first, and then let you decide.

A Word About Carbohydrates (Sugar)

Carbohydrates are turned into sugar by our bodies to use as fuel. When we think sugar, we think carbohydrates. Each food has a certain amount of carbohydrates, and these levels vary from food
to food – the sweeter it, is, chances are, the more carbohydrates that food contains. Our kids need this sugar to run their brains and for cellular energy.

However, we human beings need less carbohydrates than most people have been taught, and some carbohydrates are better than others. For instance, a sucker containing nothing but sugar, unfiltered water, chemical preservatives, and hydrogenated oil (seriously, read the label on some of those things!) are not going to be used in your child’s body the same way as a bowl of fruit or a tray of carrots and sweet peppers. Both contain carbohydrates, but the fruit and veggies also contain vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and even a bit of protein and fat that your child’s body needs.

But there’s more. The sucker will add to the toxic burden that your child’s liver has to clear and will send his blood sugar through the roof only for him to come crashing down an hour or so later jonseing for more. Have you ever witnessed or experienced an after-party meltdown? This is your child’s reaction to what turmoil is going inside her body. It is not bad behavior but a seriously stressful physical response to the excess sugar.

The sucker in this example contains simple carbohydrates, which take almost no effort and very little time for those little bodies to break down and absorb into their bloodstreams; the veggies and even the fruit are complex carbohydrates that contain the whole food that includes fiber, takes more effort to digest, and is slower to reach the bloodstream and at a more even rate. It is when we extract the sugar from its whole food that we create a whole lot of trouble.

Bloodsugar Regulation – No More Tantrums!

It is imperative when maintaining homeostasis (balance) in our children’s bodies to monitor and restrict sugar intake and regulate blood sugar, and eating a diet high in sugar, especially when received by way of simple carbohydrates, is detrimental to this balance. Uncontrolled bloodsugar or spikes and lows in blood sugar levels can and will cause detrimental effects on your children’s health causing symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, energy crashes, fatigue, carbohydrate cravings, hormonal imbalances, immune suppression, weight gain, behavioural problems, and family discontent, to name a few.

You may be familiar with the old belief that fat causes people to gain fat. You may even have this understanding. But it is, in fact, sugar, that is the culprit in regards to our increasing waist sizes. Yes! Sugar! And those chemical, hormone-disrupting, toxifying, acid-forming, inflammatory sugar substitutes! Say no to Splenda (which was originally discovered when a lab tech inadvertently found out that the substance was sweet when developing a new chemical pesticide)!

When we eat excess sugar, the liver needs to store whatever is not used by the body into fat; it is sent through the bloodstream throughout the body and stored for future use. Excess sugar in the blood is toxic to the body, so the body makes sure you never reach toxic levels, which would be fatal, by pumping out insulin to carry the sugar from the bloodstream to various areas of the body that need the fuel. But with a diet high in sugar, this hormone is overproduced and creates a condition called insulin resistance, where there is lots of circulating insulin, but the body can’t use it.

The body that can no longer use insulin properly deposits the sugar as fat, as well as causes the development of Type 2 Diabetes, imbalances in hormone levels such as ghrelin (that tells you that you are satiated), and leptin (that tells you that you are full), and even imbalances in brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) that can induce a state of addiction as powerful as an addiction to heroine! Some say even more powerful.

And how do we expect our children and their small bodies and delicate, new state of development deal with such a hit?

Sugar also disrupts the body in so many ways that it is safe to say that, in excess, sugar is indeed a powerful, addictive poison. If you or your children are battling any kind of health issue, the negative impact of uncontrolled bloodsugar will make your efforts to regain your health virtually impossible, so it is absolutely imperative to address sugar when assessing your diet and overall state of health. Ad even if you deem your family to be healthy, a steady diet of excess sugar will take care of that in a hurry!

Therefore, in order to reduce the impact sugar has on your children’s health, we can first lower their intake of sugar, especially the simple carbohydrates that come in the form of table sugar, added sugar in packaged foods, and simple carbohydrates like flours (found in pastries, breads, and breakfast cereals – no, they are NOT nutritious), highly processed snack foods like chips, juices (yes, even organic, pure fruit juice not from concentrate!), and if you are hard-core, even white potatoes, swapping them out for the more nutritious sweet potato!

Secondly, in order to maintain balance and control over blood sugar levels, it is very helpful to understand the concept of the glycemic load and the glycemic index.

Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index

Scientists have categorized foods into two scales measuring how much sugar is in each food item and how fast that sugar is assimilated into the bloodstream, the glycemic index and the glycemic load. These guides are extremely useful in that they allow users to choose the slower assimilated foods that contain the least amount of sugar.

The Glycemic Index measures how quickly sugar enters the bloodstream after eating a particular food. The foods are rated on a scale ranging from 1-100, 1-55 being low, 55-70 in the moderate range, and 70-100 being high or quick to absorb.

The Glycemic Load not only measures how fast the sugar enters the bloodstream but also how much sugar is in that food, and with that information, estimates how much that sugar will raise bloodsugar levels. This scale ranges from 1-upwards of 20, 1-10 being low, 11-19 in the moderate range, and above 20 being high.

Although Glycemic Index is useful, Glycemic Load is more useful as it gives you a more complete picture of how that sugar will impact your bloodsugar levels.

Use the Glycemic Load to become more familiar with the foods that will stabilize your children’s bloodsugar levels. Refer to the charts for Glycemic Load that you can find all over the internet and in books that abound on the subject. Eat slow carbohydrates with fiber and fat, and avoid fast carbohydrates. Eliminate refined sugar, and reduce fruit and starches.

Therefore, although carbohydrates are a necessary macronutrient needed to fuel our children’s bodies, it is essential that the right carbohydrates are eaten and in the right portion. And, sadly, candy isn’t one of those food groups.

Holidays like Halloween are great fun, and they can be even more fun when we can avoid the tantrums, subsequent illnesses, and ill health that a steady diet of “treats” can cause for our precious ones. Let’s “treat” our kids to robust bodies, happy feelings, balanced emotions, and a lifetime of good health!

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