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Hey, Sugar!
Baby talk Baby talk
Hey, Sugar!
May 10, 2018
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Baby talk Baby talk
Hey, Sugar!
May 10, 2018
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It’s very easy to give sweets as a treat, but sugar contains no essential nutrients, contributes to all sorts of diseases, and is addictive.

Health guru Lisa Oxenham interviews Salma Dawood, Technical Advisor at Viridian Nutrition, who tells us why we should be keeping our children away from the sweet stuff.

Why is sugar addictive?

Science suggests that our relationship with sugar starts from birth, as babies favour sweet flavours over other tastes. Sugar is also highly desirable as it triggers dopamine production, which is a hormone involved in our ‘reward centre’. As we experience this ‘feel-good’ effect, it is likely that we will repeat the behaviour that contributed to the dopamine-release in the first place, hence causing the vicious cycle of sugar cravings. The more you consume sugar, the more you will develop a taste for it.

When should I give my child sugar?

Too much sugar does the body more harm than good – particularly in developing children. Sugar consumption in children can further exasperate hyperactivity and behavioural problems, as it causes an energy imbalance. It is recommended for children under the age of 4 to avoid added sugar consumption, according to the NHS. Sugars that occur naturally in fruits and milk are not included in this recommendation. Although sugar acts the same in the body, whether natural or artificial, there is a plethora of beneficial nutrients that are found in fruits and milk that are required by the body.

How can I help my child overcome sugar cravings?

There are certain nutrients that have been shown in research to reduce sugar cravings, such as chromium and cinnamon. Mechanistically, these work to enhance blood glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity. Chromium has also been shown to influence neurotransmitters involved in appetite control, thus potentially reducing sugar cravings.  Supplementing with these nutrients can help suppress sugar cravings, but always consult the child’s physician before introducing supplements into their diet.

Many processed foods have hidden added sugars that you may not be aware of. Always check food labels and ingredient lists for any added sugars. Remember, it may not be obvious on a label. Sugar can also be written as glucose, fructose, sucrose, cane sugar, sorbitol and molasses.

Gradually reduce your child’s sugar addiction by limiting the availability of processed snacks in the house, preparing meals as a family to control what they are eating, and finding natural and healthy alternatives to sugary snacks. Get creative with fruit recipes, and allow children to partake in creating fun and healthy snacks. Overcoming a sugar addiction is a gradual process.

What are the sugar withdrawal symptoms?

Children with a sugar addiction will often experience behavioural issues if their diet is suddenly changed. They may feel irritable, throw tantrums and have mood swings. However, this will gradually improve as the child becomes accustomed to reduced sugar consumption.

Lisa Oxenham
@lisaoxenham
Beauty & Style Director at Marie Claire UK. Art Director/Brand Consultant
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