Sugar on developing babies in utero, infants, and toddlers have irreversible effects that negatively impact their sleep and mood, memory and learning, organ and gut health and predispose them to diabetes, heart disease, and inflammatory conditions like asthma. It is our job as their parents to protect them and the easiest way to remove the majority in their diet is to say no to liquid sugar!
From the over 70 ways to hide sugar on a label to the known sugar bombs like treats at daycare, school, birthday parties, and even grandma's house. I know it’s a very, very hard task as a parent myself. It's truly exhausting to fight the sugar fight with your kids and the world every day, but we have to.
Children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate; what used to be less than 5% of diagnosed diabetes cases for kids (the majority was autoimmune type 1) is now well over 20%, and that’s in less than a decade. These children have kidney problems, hypertension, heart disease, fatty liver, and fertility implications.
Unfortunately, a famous study is being taken out of context. A surging number of social media accounts are now suggesting that we offer everything from juice and dessert with every meal to decrease desire and prevent “good” and “bad” food labeling. The study being cited states, “Food-related parenting practices, including food restriction and pressure-to-eat, have been associated with higher weight status, as well as the use of unhealthy weight-related behaviors, in children and adolescents."
This study is a survey-based community study, and it makes some excellent points, but the “takeaway” isn’t to feed your kids desserts every night with their meal. Not offering dessert at every meal is NOT a food restriction. On the contrary, it concludes that “Parents have the opportunity to positively influence their child’s weight status through role modeling of healthful eating and physical activity behaviors, provision of healthful food choices within the home environment and establishment of family norms around a consistent meal and snack patterns, including regular and frequent consumption of family meals.” (1)
Now more than ever, we have a responsibility to protect our children. Researchers have warned that “there are significant long-term consequences of childhood overweight and obesity, many of which currently may not yet be fully understood as the rate of overweight and obesity has rapidly increased over the past few decades.” (2) And, these longitudinal studies continue to conclude that children who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese adults, and they have an increased risk of being diagnosed with hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes in adulthood. High blood pressure and cholesterol in childhood are also associated with poor cardiovascular outcomes in adulthood. To protect our children, we need to take a stand against sugar, and my advice for parents is to stand up against the leading source first, sugar-sweetened beverages.
The CDC even recognizes that “Sugar-sweetened beverages or sugary drinks are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet and associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout, a type of arthritis.”
We don't want our children to feel left out, restricted, or develop disordered eating. Still, we don’t want our child to develop hypertension, metabolic syndrome, or face lifelong health consequences either, so setting boundaries and striking a family compromise is essential. A sugar boundary I recommend to my clients and implement with my children is no liquid sugar at home, at school, or out unless it’s a mutually agreed-upon special occasion. Once you set the boundary and have replacements, enforcement is much easier. This boundary means we say no to sports drinks, soda, sweetened milk/milk alternatives and juice. It’s an easy boundary to stick to because we can say YES to electrolyte water, sparkling water, BWBK chocolate milk and spa water with our kids.
Below you will find a list of my favorite replacements:
Electrolytes. Not all electrolytes are created equal! LMNT* is an electrolyte powder without the added sugar of sports drinks. Our children’s activity levels don't warrant the 29,000 mg of added sugar in Gatorade or the 11,000 mg of added sugar in Liquid IV. Sebastian calls it lemonade, and I’ll share a pack with him by shaking a 1/4 packet into his 16oz water bottle. Give it a try by ordering your free samples here!
Sparkling Water. We stick with sparkling spring water, Sound Tea or Spindrift because of their limited ingredients.
My boys love making spa water! Simply cut lemons, limes, oranges, and strawberries into a pitcher of water. Add mint, cucumber, basil, or rosemary for a complex flavor profile. They drink more water and eat more produce too!
We love homemade nut milk and simple blends like Malk, Three Trees, Malibu Mlyk, and Good Milk Co mixed with BWBK chocolate protein for a suagr free chocolate milk.