Here are some disturbing statistics about American kids published by the U.S. Government:
40% of girls and 33% of boys born in 2000 will have type 2 diabetes by the age of 50. Amphetamine prescriptions (such as Ritalin) for children have increased 30-fold in the last decade.
More than one fourth of our children and nearly a third of our teenagers are overweight.
Anxiety disorders and depression are on a steady and rapid rise among our youth accompanied by an increase in prescriptions for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications for children.
Research suggests that a dependency on refined carbohydrates beginning early in life creates a high risk of addiction to drugs and alcohol as an adult. Our diet has a HUGE impact on our behavior and addictions both in children and adults. What kind of behaviors you ask? Depression, anxiety, attention and concentration deficits, mood disorders, poor impulse control, low self-esteem and fatigue to name a few. The consumption of sugar in the form of refined carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup, and soft drinks has increased dramatically since the 1970’s which not only contributes to the high rate of obesity, but effects our day to day brain biochemstry leading to the above behaviors. Author and addictive nutritionist, Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD, explains: “Sugar sensitivity is an inherited biochemical condition resulting from volatile blood sugar and low levels of serotonin and beta endorphin” in the brain. People who come from families with a history of alcoholism, obesity, diabetes, or depression are more likely to be sugar sensitive and are at greater risk for addiction as a result.
So what can we do to help sugar sensitive children?
1. Don’t just stop sugar…you want to balance the brain’s biochemistry and heal the brain before taking out the sugar. It’s better to add good foods in before you take any foods out.
2. Always have breakfast with protein.
3. Keep a food journal where you write down everything you eat and how you feel afterward. You can review this journal with your child and make that food-mood connection with them.
4. Have healthy snacks and drinks- eat between meals and avoid juice and pop and instead drink lots of water and fruits, veges, whole grains with protein.
5. Serve lunch and dinner on time.
6. Avoid the white flour and white rice, cookies and pastries and replace it with complex carbs such as brown rice, yam, oats and whole grain breads.
7. Include essential fatty acids which are critical for brain and nervous system development as well as insulin and mood regulation in children.
Our children need a diet that neither creates nor compounds sugar sensitivity. We need to give our children enough of the right foods at school and at home to help balance their brain chemistry for their current well-being and their future health.