With the kids back in school and Halloween fast approaching, it’s a good time to take a little look at sugar.
Being conscious of what we are putting into our bodies and giving our kids is the first step! Kids who eat healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks and avoid sugar will get the nutrients needed to perform well in sports and function better in daily life. There are naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables. These also come with fiber, water and other nutrients- this kind of sugar, called fructose, is the “good” kind. The “bad” sugar comes from added sugars. Added sugars are ones that are added to foods. The most commonly seen on labels are sucrose and/or the worst of all, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Added sugars have empty calories that can lead to weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, CAVITIES and tooth decay along with several other health problems.
Even “healthy” seeming snacks can have a ton of sugar added to them. Sports drinks, granola bars, muffins, applesauce, cereals, chocolate milk, lemonade, frozen yogurt, etc.. all are sugary snacks! Unfortunately, the more our children are exposed to it, the more they want it. The NCBI published a study in which they explain that people can actually become addicted to sugar- it shows sugary foods stimulate the same areas in the brain as drug intake. Sugar can be a real addiction!
The below table is taken from a study on sources of added sugars.
Tips for having young athletes eat more fruit instead of sugary snacks (from choosemyplate.org):
•Set a good example by eating fruit every day with meals or as snacks
•Offer them a choice of fruits for lunch
•Depending on their age, young athletes can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits
•While shopping, allow them to pick out a new fruit to try later at homeDecorate plates or serving dishes with fruit slices
•Top off a bowl of cereal with some berries
•Offer raisins or other dried fruits instead of candy
•Make fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries
•Pack a juice box (100% juice) in their lunches instead of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages
•Look for and choose fruit options, such as sliced apples, mixed fruit cup, or 100% fruit juice in fast food restaurants
•Offer fruit pieces and 100% fruit juice to children. There is often little fruit in “fruit-flavored” beverages or chewy fruit snacks
Additional Sources: NCBI Evidence of Sugar Addiction: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/