FoodHealth

Tidbit Tuesdays: Sugar + Kids

I would guess most of us have seen the article when it was published a few years back (at least I hope it was only a few years… anyone else notice as they get older that they just can’t keep time straight anymore?) Anyway, the articles were all over the news, for example: Does sugar make kids hyperactive?

We all have our own anecdotes about this, of course. I’ve personally found that sugar + kids has been similar to cultural expectations of drunkenness… particularly the pseudointoxication aspect. I cannot count how many times I’ve seen parents give their children verbal and nonverbal cues (including initial refusal to give the treat) that the sugary treat they were about to give their child was going to cause their child to run amok. Self fulfilling prophecy? I’ve always wondered…

Today society has a particular obsession with sugar. Which is completely reasonable, considering there are real problems with over-indulgence. Cavities and other oral hygiene related issues (including heart disease), sugar crashes, cravings, obesity… and these are difficult problems to solve. How many of us are willing to give up those sugary sweets? However, concerns with sugar have also exploded into all sorts of pseudo-scientific and distracting non-issues. As always, there is ongoing research about what over-consumption of sugar actually causes and what constitutes over-consumption. A lot of truth ends up being tangled in the confusion of the Internet world of opinions and anecdotes (yes, mine as well).

All that aside, I think there are few people who would argue that reduction of sugar is a bad thing. Ultimately we’re all on the same side, it’s simply a matter of extremes… when the fear of sugar becomes irrational and is based on non truths.

Regardless of how you feel, remember that how you eat and what you feed to your child will have a lifelong impact on them. You are creating their future comfort foods, their future indulgent foods… right now. You are teaching them what tastes normal and what tastes too sweet, too bland, too salty. This isn’t just table sugar but also about syrups, fruit juices, and the like. You don’t need to invent reasons to be concerned about that. You’re a parent.

LINKS ABOUT SUGAR:

Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
CDC: Carbohydrates
Colorado State University Extension: Sugar and sweeteners
Linus Pauling Institute: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
American Cancer Society: Common Questions About Diet and Cancer
National Institute of Mental Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
The sweet taste of gripe water is an anodyne. (Probably explains effectiveness of “homeopathic” gripe water.)
American Academy of Pediatrics: Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics
Mayo Clinic: Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes

LINKS OF THE WEEK

I Have a Dream That Someday a Picture Like This Won’t be a Big Deal

Infants Show Ability to Tell Friends from Foes

I have wondered what forcing kisses implies to my son about consent, but maybe this is going too far. What do you guys think? I definitely think a child shouldn’t be forced to be in contact with anyone if they seem truly upset or uncomfortable, but where do you draw the line? What does the research say?

Have you considered MOOCs to supplement your parental skills? Not just in terms of teaching your kids, but teaching yourself? Right now Coursera is hosting courses on teaching and the Common Core. Iversity has a class on Gamification Design (“Can we design that kind of gameful experiences in non-game contexts to make them more engaging?”). Know of any other cool MOOCs that can help parents? Shout ’em out in the comments!

Texas Family Will Sue Hospital For Keeping Pregnant, Brain-Dead Woman on Life Support

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What do you think of educational doll sets for girls, like Girls Explore?

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J.G. Hovey

J.G. Hovey

A (casual) hunter, a (casual) fisher, a (casual) video gamer, a (casual) tabletop gamer, a librarian, a (former) machinist, a skeptic, an atheist, a pretty heavy reader, a writer, a parent, and a (casual) tinkerer of electronics.

Follow the author's other endeavors at: A Parent With Glass, and ALTsapiens, and G+.

6 Comments

  1. January 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm —

    “Regardless of how you feel, remember that how you eat and what you feed to your child will have a lifelong impact on them. You are creating their future comfort foods, their future indulgent foods… right now. You are teaching them what tastes normal and what tastes too sweet, too bland, too salty. This isn’t just table sugar but also about syrups, fruit juices, and the like. You don’t need to invent reasons to be concerned about that. You’re a parent.”

    I actually have a different take on my responsibility as a parent. I teach that there are no “good” foods or “bad” foods. I teach about food as fuel and about variety being important. Moderation is key (in almost all aspects of life). I have food issues – many stemming from my mother’s relationship with food – and I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that having treats, even more than occasionally, will kill them, or worse, make them fat (sarcasm). I also don’t have complete and ultimate control over everything my kid eats and don’t want to. I don’t want to police my family, my kids’ school and my kid. I believe that teaching my kids to make healthy choices is a better approach.

    • January 15, 2014 at 8:47 am —

      I think that’s another great example of the potential lifelong impact! Thanks for sharing. The impact anyone is concerned about will vary based on your own perspective. I come from a family where the default drink is soda pop, and binging out on cookies is considered normal. Even now, how we were raised with food shapes our decisions for our own children! I too, try to avoid labeling any foods as good or bad, but I do try to limit the availability of certain foods in the house (but I don’t make a big issue of it).

  2. January 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm —

    “I definitely think a child shouldn’t be forced to be in contact with anyone if they seem truly upset or uncomfortable, but where do you draw the line?”
    They have to say hello and goodbye, please and thank you. They can refuse bodily contact with whomever they want for whatever reasons they want (exceptions being “you stay at my hand because this is a dangerous road we’re crossing” and such).

    As for food, there are more or less two rules:
    1. No non-stop snacking and sweets before meals
    2. If you don’t eat your school breakfast you’re not going to get any treats.
    The second rule is because kid #1 does not always remember to eat or care to eat and then becomes an insufferable brat when her blood sugar takes a dive.
    Oh, and sweet beverages are a holiday treat, with the result that they’re so used to water and tea that they’ll even refuse sodas when they are allowed

    They don’t have to give or endure kisses or even shake hands. When I say the older one goodbye at school I ask her if she wants a kiss and remind her that it’s totally OK to say no. I actually don’t care about what any research says on this matter: It’s their bodily autonomy

    • January 15, 2014 at 8:56 am —

      Thanks for your input. It seems like it would be awkward to remind your daughter constantly that she can refuse a kiss, I assume you mastered the technique… how would you suggest approaching it? I’ve thought sometimes myself about how to remind children about such things, but I’m afraid of sounding a little strange repeating it… but I also would want my kid to not be afraid to say what he feels in such matters. I’m a little mixed on it myself, as you can see. Haha!

      • January 15, 2014 at 10:56 am —

        Most I just ask “Do you want to give me a kiss/do you want to kiss me? It’s OK if you say no” I’m not making a big deal out of it. I learned that children LOVE being asked. My friend’s middle son likes me a lot. Because I simply ask: “Can i give you a kiss?” He beams and says “Noooooooooooooooooooooo”. I think he wouldn’t mind my kisses that much, but he likes me all the more for getting a chance tosay no and not being penalized.

      • January 15, 2014 at 11:30 am —

        Oh, and I’ve forgotten:
        Of course you have to walk the walk: No acting hurt or disappointed or asking a second time.
        Often I’ll just offer them hugs or kisses. If I open my arms they can hug me or leave me standing there like an idiot. That’s my problem. I purse my lips and they can kiss me or not.

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