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This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Most of us should eat less sugar, and that goes for kids too. We need to get balance back in everyone’s diets.

In a perfect world we’d try and avoid giving our baby a sweet tooth, yet we are born with a preference for sugar: breast milk is full of milk sugar. But sugar in its white, processed versions and genetically modified syrups, sweeteners and grains, wreak havoc, especially in little bodies. It creates inflammation, disrupting blood sugar levels, causing weight gain as well as mood and behavior changes.

We could probably all do with a Sugar Detox of some kind, but this should never be about quitting sugar good for you or your kids. Carbohydrates, sugar and starch in their natural forms; fruits and vegetables for example are vital for the function of our cells. Fructose and sucrose in the right balance are actually good for maintaining blood sugar levels. Sugar and starch are absolutely vital in replenishing glycogen after exercise, which hopefully your little ones are getting plenty of.

REMOVING SUGAR CAN BE DANGEROUS

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Removing entire food groups from anyone’s diet is dangerous. From vegetarians and vegans to low fat to protein only advocates; there’s no need to add low- to no- sugar and it’s impact to that list. There’s a scientific reason for this too; in the beginning after giving up “carbs” your body will use fat and protein as energy.  Once the excess is gone and your body thinks that there is a lack of something and that it might be starving, it will use adrenalin as its energy source. Then it will start taking energy by breaking down muscle and borrowing from other systems in the body. There is a huge amount of confusion for the hormonal, endocrine and adrenal systems, least of all these systems as they develop in your little ones. It’s all about the balance and we all need it back.

While parents should be trying to form healthy eating habits for their little ones as they introduce a variety of foods, what if outside influences have already made your kids little sugar addicts? There are surefire ways to get them off their blood sugar roller coaster.

HOW TO START BREAKING THE SUGAR ADDICTION

boy-358296_960_720Every meal should contain Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. Even snacks. These three macronutrients work together to give us energy, reacting off each other to break down into nutrients each cell can use. This is the point of food in the first place.

Ethical and sustainably farmed meats and their fats contain vital amino acids needed to create muscles, brain function and repair the breaking down of tissue and keep inflammation at a low. There is no plant food that contains all 9 amino acids, nor has there ever been a tribe or culture on the planet that did not consume animal products in some form. Healthy fats are a part of every cell in our body, each cell is surrounded by a lipid (fat) bilayer. Our brain is about 70% fat, and in a developing little brain that’s more than essential. Sugars and starches help replenish glycogen after vibrant toddler exercise and learning, enabling them to have energy and to repair broken down muscle tissue.
Some ways to start gradually ousting refined, and rebalancing whole sugars in your kids’ diet are:

  • Start with removing all added sugar.
  • Then reduce, with the aim to remove, processed foods from your kitchen. If you don’t offer it, they won’t eat. Use whole food sweeteners and even then sparingly. http://blog.paleoonthego.com/baby-led-paleo/
  • Encourage whole food mini meals and snacks ensuring little bodies don’t go too long in between meals. Avoid high-sugar snacks like rusks, biscuits and cakes; they’re sweet and low in nutrients and health (http://blog.paleoonthego.com/grains-arsenic-no-babies-dont-mix/). Try healthier finger foods, like berries with nut butters, avocado wedges, plantain chips you can easily roast crisp yourself.
  • Let them drink water not juice or soda. Flavor with a few strawberries or other fruit slices for color and taste.
  • Incorporate naturally sweet whole foods in main meals that are less deleterious to nutrition than processed refined sugars, like carrots, beets, parsnips, onions, fennel; experiment and let them tell you which is sweetest.
  • Add farmers markets to weekend adventuring. Show your kids where food comes from and that fresh is best; let them grow their own if you’ve the room or window ledge patience.
  • Cook meals from scratch and involve your kids in carefully cutting and preparing their own if they’re interested
  • Don’t cut out desserts completely, they’re still a treat and there are loads of alternatives (http://www.paleoonthego.com/chocolate-chip-cookies-2-cookies)
  • Keep trying; they will eventually learn to enjoy newer foods. Oh and the younger they are the quicker they learn to like less sugary tastes.

Remember: One kid’s food is another kid’s poison and change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens by building up habits. Especially in kids who are building new neural pathways in their brains faster than any time in their lives. That also means that every day we’re offering our kids real whole foods, we’re flexing their nutrient building little bodies better than ever before.

 

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