Too Much Sugar
A Sugar-Coated Problem
By Heather K. Scott
Though studies confirm the correlation between sugar-rich foods and childhood behavior problems, many parents continue to foster their kids' sugar addictions. Why? And what can be done to break the cycle?
You and your two sons are at a birthday party for a close family friend. The party is nearly over, and as you begin to leave, you notice that your youngest son, who just finished a small piece of store-bought birthday cake, is racing around kicking furniture and grabbing at playmates. Your older son is sitting and talking quietly with a friend and her mother, eating an apple, and waiting for you near the door. Why the difference? Is your youngest just over-tired and over-stimulated?
Probably not, says Kathleen DesMaisons, president and CEO of Radiant Recovery (a nutrition-based addiction recovery program) and author of the new book Little Sugar Addicts. Most likely, that sugar-laden, store-bought cake has transformed your little angel into a little devil. And your older son? Skipping cake in favor of that apple was a wise decision—his ability to make a smart food choice has not only helped him continue to feel well and under control, but it has boosted his self-esteem and literally fed his cognitive abilities.
DesMaisons has studied the correlation between sugar, health, and behavior for more than 15 years, and her studies confirm what many mothers already intuitively know: Sugar changes our children. It can turn the happiest, calmest, and most collected child into a teary-eyed, angry terror. Many parents, although they sense the tie between sugar and bad behavior, continue to let their children drink undiluted juice or straight soda, and eat cookies, candy, and other sweets.
Why? Because it is hard to stop the cycle. A child acts out in the grocery aisle begging for candy, and the embarrassed mom or dad succumbs and buys the candy bar. The child is suddenly back to "normal." Until she has a temper tantrum during the car ride home.
So, what can you do to free your child—and yourself or family—from sugar addiction? DesMaisons offers a wealth of helpful advice.