I’ve been on a rant lately about sugar.
Maybe I can chalk it up to having a bad case of PMS this month. Or maybe it’s as simple as hearing Maroon 5’s song “Sugar” a few hundred times too many. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time with young boys in the tee-ball dugout. Boys who like to stand up on the bench, slam their bats on the concrete, or climb the fence. Or maybe it’s the new Lunchables Dirt Cake that my eleven-year-old son keeps trying to sell me on. Or it may simply be this little face that begs several times a day …
Ya’ll. I really can’t wrap my brain around all this sugar.
And I wonder if as a society, we are truly underestimating the negative impact sugar has on not only us, but on our vulnerable children. I believe it is especially important to consider for children who have apraxia and who I think, have a higher susceptibility to inflammation.
When Jake was four, I took him to an integrative/holistic MD to explore the possibility that diet and/or nutritional deficiencies were negatively impacting his body and that apraxia of speech might just be a “side effect” of these things.
Part of his extensive diet/supplement program was to limit sugar intake to 12 to 20 grams per day. In other math, this equates to 3 to 5 teaspoons each day. So for the first time in my life, I started inspecting how much sugar was in the food that my child was eating. I was blown away at how quickly 20 grams can be eaten up!
Consider these facts from the May 15, 2014 article by the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
- The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 5-to-15 percent of calories from added sugars.
- “10 percent limit for added sugar also represents the consensus view of the WHO.”
- “Consuming 10 percent of calories from added sugars corresponds to eating about 12 teaspoons a day for an adult and 7 teaspoons for an 8-year-old child.”
- In March 2014, “The WHO published a draft guideline stating that reducing sugar to less than 5 percent of total calorie intake would have additional public health benefits.”
- “The American Heart Association’s consensus is for just four teaspoons of added sugar a day for children, which also corresponds to a limit of 5 percent of calories.”
- “Many children are consuming double or even triple the recommended maximum.”
What does this look like in real life?
- Mott’s Applesauce: 22 grams of sugar or 5.5 teaspoons (natural sugar vs. added sugar amount unknown)
- Skittles 2.17 oz. package: 42 grams of sugar or 10.5 teaspoons
- Hi-C Orange Lavaburst Juice Box: 25 grams of sugar or 6.25 teaspoons
- Yoplait Cotton Candy Trix Yogurt: 14 grams of sugar or 3.5 teaspoons
These are just a few examples. Again, we are supposed to be shooting for 4 teaspoons a day or 16 grams. (1 teaspoon sugar = 4 grams). My assumption is that most kids eat their required sugar grams (and probably more) in breakfast alone. I know Jake did when we first started this journey to wellness two years ago. It would also be my guess that kids are eating far more sugar than even double or triple the daily recommended guidelines.
We love the following lower-sugar alternatives: Van’s, Annie’s, Enjoy Life, and Back to Nature.
In conclusion …
I’d like to put a disclaimer in here that my family and I are not perfect. My kids still get their sweet tooth on, they just do it with products that have a lower sugar content. If you know me in real life, you’ve seen my kids with a Ring Pop hanging out of their mouth or chomping on Skittles at the ball park. It is a treat, not a daily thing. I also have a bag of Dark Chocolate Almond BarkThins (yum!) stashed in my desk drawer that I indulge in a couple of times a day to boost my plotting brain power for the novel that I’m working on.
I really think moderation is the key and that simple substitutions can be made to lower overall sugar intake. I also think being mindful of sugar consumption is imperative to the health of our children. I wish a study would be done on what happens to a child’s health and cognitive ability with they eat five to ten times the daily recommended sugar allowance. That’s why as adults, it’s okay for us to drink a margarita or two, but if we were to drink a bottle of tequila we’d be flat on our face.