We try so hard to feed our kids a healthy diet. We’re constantly checking labels, noting ingredients, and offering fruits and vegetables. But convenience foods really are convenient, so we might occasionally throw some crackers or a granola bar into the bag for a quick snack. Or maybe we buy single servings of fruity yogurt. Yogurt is a healthy snack, right? Well, that depends.
So, what is the toxic food you feed your children every day? Sugar. Refined, raw, or in it’s many forms, added sugar is not just extra calories. The new research on sugar is showing some startling results. Dr. Robert H. Lustig has made it his mission in life to share the research with the general public. His research has found that added sugars cause medical issues like obesity and diabetes, which is not so surprising. But he’s also found a connection between added sugars and heart disease stroke, and even CANCER. Now that surprised me.
Why Sugar is Toxic
Here’s the You Tube video Dr. Lustig posted in 2009 about the danger of added sugars in our diet. This contains detailed information about why sugar is toxic.
And a video from CBS’s “60 Minutes” called “Is Sugar Toxic?”.
So you’re thinking, “I don’t feed my kids very much candy or soda, so they’re safe from these effects, right?” Wrong. There is added sugar in virtually every food that you don’t prepare yourself. Here’s a list of 50 different names that might appear on food labels that actually mean sugar.
There is usually a LOT of added sugar in yogurts. All yogurt must contain some sugar because that’s what the probiotics use as food, however, I’ve seen single serving yogurts with more than 30 grams of sugar. And that’s way too much sugar for a little liver to handle on a regular basis. As an alternative, I buy a plain yogurt and mash a banana into it to sweeten it up.
There’s also sugar in other foods you might not think about. Bread contains sugar. So do crackers. And almost all commercially produced peanut butter has added sugar. I’ve been able to find some at Whole Foods that doesn’t, and there are some grocery stores where you can grind your own peanut butter, so you can be absolutely sure there’s nothing added.
So now you’re thinking, “Wow, I need to start checking labels more carefully. And we can’t ever eat anything sweet again without risking a heart attack, yikes!”
Luckily, there are some wonderfully sweet foods that won’t increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, or cancer. Fruits and vegetables do contain fructose, but they also contain fiber and other nutrients that balance out the sugars and allow the body to metabolize them differently. All fruits and vegetables are healthy food choices for you and your kids.
And have you tasted a beet or a sweet potato lately? They’re incredibly sweet, especially if you bake them. Apples, bananas, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, mangoes, pineapples, blackberries, pears, peaches, plums, yum! There are so many wonderful fruit and vegetable choices that are sweet and delicious and are also healthy food for your child’s growing body.
So this week, take a look through your pantry and check out the added sugars in items you’d never expect to find it. Then, add some more fresh fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet and reduce any candy or sweetened drinks they might currently consume.
Do also watch out for fruit juices. While they seem like they might be healthy choices, they lack the fiber that helps our bodies metabolize the sugars. So the current recommendation from pediatricians is to stay away from fruit juice AND soda. Both contain sugar without fiber and both are difficult for your body to assimilate.
So, now that you know how dangerous added sugars can be, you can begin to make choices that will support your family’s health and wellbeing even more. And the amazing thing is that once you’ve taken all of that extra sugar out of your diet, you probably won’t even miss it! Most of the people I’ve talked to say that sugar from fruits and vegetables is enough sweetness an they feel so much better they’d never go back to eating added sugars.