Sugar Addiction in Kids

Sugar is a natural sweetener found in nature. Pure cane sugar has a sweet taste but not as sweet as what we get in table sugar. The refining process can increase the sweetness.

There are also many different forms of sugar in use in food production today. Any label ingredient that ends in “-ose,” or “-ase” can be a form of sugar. Sound familiar?

The Effects of Sugar

The body uses sugars as a way of gauging insulin production. Steady blood sugar stops cravings. There are sugars in breads and other carbohydrate foods that level off insulin production.

Simple sugars like those in candy bars, sweetened cereals, cookies and other refined processed foods can spike the blood sugar. When it spikes, too much insulin is released into the bloodstream. You get a burst of energy but it can’t be sustained.

The blood sugar drops. You get tired and feel like you could fall through the floor. To replenish the sugar stores, more sugar is needed. Often we reach for what is readily available, like another sweet snack.

The Effect of Sugar on Kids

How can you tell if your child is addicted to sugar? Will they eat nothing but sweets? If they don’t get a sweet treat, will they throw a tantrum or cry?

These can be signs of sugar withdrawal. Just like anything else that can become an addiction; the body goes through a process when it is absent.

There is an important point to understand: a child reacts differently to sugar than an adult. This all has to do with the amount of sugar they are eating. A toddler may be able to eat solid food but their portions are smaller than an adult.

We often don’t take this in account. For an adult, drinking a soda can make you more alert due to the sugar and caffeine. For a child, that same level of sugar in their body would be akin to an adult drinking six sodas. The overload can lead to hyperactivity, which is what parents describe as kids going crazy after sweets.

Consider the long-term effects of even one soda a day, for example. It can lead to an addiction for sweets. Going cold turkey with your child can lead to the behavior that makes up withdrawal symptoms.

One solution can be to substitute processed sugar with natural sugars in fruits and vegetables. There is also a sweet taste to carrots, berries, bananas and many citrus fruits. Starting a child on them now can increase their love of nutritious foods and help to stop the sugar addiction.