Killing Your Family With Kindness – What Sugar is Doing to Your Kids
My goal as a mom is to give my kids the tools they need for a successful life. That means showing them how to love and be loved, how to take care of themselves emotionally and physically, and how to become part of a world that may be very different from mine. If you’re a parent, you know how complex those goals are. This is a complex world, and what success means in one context may be very different in another. What brings wellness at one moment may be destructive at another.
I’m thinking about physical well-being today. It’s easy to rationalize sugary treats when my kids consume them along with healthy food, when they complain until they get their way and I just want quiet, when I feel like it’s unfair of me to expect everyone to eat like I eat and when I’m told I’m being a “food nazi”. Sure, let’s get that Dairy Queen Blizzard to celebrate…of course you can have cookies for dessert…ok, have a can of soda but with your lunch.
But these exceptions roll up into every day occurrences, and I’m struggling as the gatekeeper to say no over and over again. Letting kids smoke cigarettes or use cocaine would be a hard no for any parent, so why is sugar given a pass when we KNOW it is addictive and causes long-term illness?
So I will be unreasonable and a hard-ass.
I don’t want to set up my kids for failure. I don’t want them obese or at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) or diabetes or cancer. And these are rarely random illnesses. These illnesses are almost entirely lifestyle related. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, when anything without fat was the way to eat. My entire birth family has struggled with obesity, and I did, too, until I went paleo and now carnivore. My parents and siblings have all been obese and/or suffering from diabetes, CVD, or kidney disease. I want my kids to know what is healthy and have the habit of being healthy. It’s one less struggle they’ll have in life, and it’s within my power to help.
With that in mind, here is a vital read to so many of us. READ IT. This article is a short narrative, so no need to read through statistics and research, but it is compelling and well-founded.
So many of my clients and family are sugar addicts. It is a cycle. It is an addiction for many of us and is not just something we need to cut back on but must quit. But for all of us, it is unnecessary and serves only to add fat. That’s the evolutionary value of sugar: it puts on fat. That is its purpose. Tell me, do you need to put on fat?
This article also puts sugar addiction onto the continuum with things generally accepted as highly addictive, like cigarettes and cocaine. Sugar is no different in its addictive properties, but it is assumed to be more benign. That’s a wrong assumption. Our rates of diabetes and CVD attest to the cost in health, life, and medical costs.
In animal studies, sugar has been found to produce more symptoms than is required to be considered an addictive substance. Animal data has shown signiﬁcant overlap between the consumption of added sugars and drug-like effects, including bingeing, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross- dependence, reward and opioid effects. Sugar addiction seems to be dependence to the natural endogenous opioids that get released upon sugar intake. In both animals and humans, the evidence in the literature shows substantial parallels and overlap between drugs of abuse and sugar, from the standpoint of brain neurochemistry as well as behaviour.
The reason why we may not be able to give up the sweet stuff is because sweet sensations are one of the most intense sensory pleasures that humans experience in the modern day. Our out of sugary substances exceeds any metabolic need. And there is no physiological requirement for consuming a single gram of added sugar as there is technically no such thing as an ‘essential carbohydrate’ (unlike that for protein or fat). Nonetheless as we previously discussed, fructose consumption played a critical role in human evolution. Although individuals can clearly thrive and survive without any added sugars, the human species likely would not have survived for very long without the craving and consumption of natural sources of fructose. (Sugar addiction: is it real? A narrative… (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319266735_Sugar_addiction_is_it_real_A_narrative_review)