Tis the Season to eat sugar, fa la la la la la la la la….you know the tune, it starts with Halloween and it doesn’t end until the Easter Basket is empty. The American Heart Association and World Health Organization recommend that children age 0-2yrs have no added sugar in their daily diet, children ages 3-18 yrs are recommended to have no more than 6tsps per day, women are also recommended to have 6 tsp or less per day and men are recommended no more than 9tsp per day. There is one teaspoon of sugar per 4g, children and women are therefore recommended 24g or less of added sugar per day.
Sugar occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables as fructose and in dairy products as lactose. Foods with natural sugar provide essential nutrients that keep the body healthy and help prevents disease and certain types of cancers. It is recommended that children and adults have 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fruits and unsweetened milk have vitamins and minerals, in addition milk has protein and fruit has fiber. The protein and fiber in foods with natural sugar make us feel full and keep us satisfied longer, cutting back on snacking throughout the day. Refined sugar has no nutritional value and is burned off quickly, leaving us hungry and craving more refined sugar. Eating refined sugar then becomes a cycle of eating, feeling hungry and craving more sugar.
Most of us blow right past our daily maximum sugar allowance by lunch. Some of our added refined sugars are obvious, like when we add it to our coffee or bake with it in cookies and cakes. Sugar can be found in almost all processed foods, food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar, typically high –fructose corn syrup to many foods and beverages. You may be surprised if you start reading the labels of your favorite crackers, cereals, juices, yogurt, bread and salad dressings. Most processed foods add calories and sugar to our diet with little nutritional value. Eating whole foods is the best way to cut down on added refined sugars.
There are many reasons to be careful when it comes to sugar, here are a few to talk about with your kids when trying to explain why they should not eat all their Halloween Candy in one sittingJ
- Sugar is addictive
Sugar stimulates the release of dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical in the brain. As we consume sugar, our bodies create more dopamine receptors that lead us to crave more sugar, resulting in a vicious cycle of sugar consumption.
- Sugar damages your immune system
By lowering the efficiency of white blood cells for hours at a time after consumption, sugar compromises the immune system and hinders our ability to fight disease and infection.
- Sugar robs your body of essential minerals
Sugar causes essential minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium to be leached from the body. This can weaken the teeth and bones, causing tooth decay and diseases like osteoporosis.
- Sugar causes insulin resistance, diabetes, and weight gain
Insulin drives glucose into cells from the bloodstream. Elevated blood glucose is toxic, so when excessive amounts of glucose cannot be used properly the pancreas begins to secrete insulin in order to remove it from the bloodstream, leading the body to become insulin resistant. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, the pancreas stops doing its job properly, which is a contributing factor of type II diabetes. Insulin also signals the body to store fat, which leads to obesity.
- Sugar increases hyperactivity in children
Refined sugars enter the bloodstream quickly, producing rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels that trigger adrenaline and make children more active.
Below is a list of common Halloween Candy: Fun size treats and the sugar count.
|100 Grand||11 g|
|Almond Joy||8 g|
|Baby Ruth||10 g|
|Charleston Chew||10 g|
|Heath Bar||8.7 g|
|Hershey’s Bar||7.7 g|
|Jelly Belly Jellybeans||7 g|
|Kit Kat||7 g|
|M&M’s (Plain)||11.5 g|
|M&M’s (Peanut)||9.1 g|
|M&M’s (Peanut Butter)||11.5 g|
|Milk Duds||6.3 g|
|Milky Way||10 g|
|Milky Way Dark||11 g|
|Mike & Ike||9 g|
|Mr. Goodbar||7 g|
|Nestle Crunch||7 g|
|Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup||10.5 g|
|Reese’s NutRageous||7.5 g|
|Snickers (Peanut butter)||12 g|
|Take 5||9 g|
|York Peppermint Pattie||11 g|
We have all heard the saying, “All things in moderation”. Halloween comes but once a year, enjoy the evening with your kids. Set expectations ahead of time about candy and enjoy the tricks and treats.