Kids eat sugar and that’s ok. Threw ya’ a curve ball, didn’t I??? But seriously, kids eat sugar and so do adults. The question is how much and do they miss anything they need when they eat sugar? Kids eat sugar – but let’s not sacrifice what they really need to grow strong and healthy. Here’s what they need.
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So children are predisposed to the taste of sugar. We already know sugar affects children more severely than adults once they eat it. But what happens when children eat sugar in place of foods that provide the macronutrients and micronutrients that children need for proper growth and development?
When Kids Eat Sugar, What Can They Miss?
News flash: Nutrient-poor foods consumed in place of nutrient-rich foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
If a child isn’t getting enough nutrients from his diet, supplementing with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids might be useful for cognition and behavioral health. Kids of low socioeconomic status, kids with symptoms of ADHD, and kids with learning disabilities might also benefit from supplementation.
The following are nutrients most often lacking in children’s diets, along with some good whole-food sources of those nutrients:
- Calcium – beans, greens, nuts, seeds
- Iron – beans, meat, whole grains, greens
- Zinc – beans, meat, whole grains, fish
- Vitamin A – fruits, vegetables
- Vitamin C – fruits, vegetables (vitamin C promotes iron absorption)
- Folic acid – whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables
- Vitamin B6 – whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, meats
- Vitamin D – fish, eggs, dairy, mushrooms, and fortified foods
- Vitamin B12 – animal foods (children eating a vegan diet will need a vitamin B12 supplement)
- Iodine – iodized salt, sea vegetables, dairy, fish. (Why dairy? Disinfectants used in dairy operations leave traces of iodine in dairy products).
Send the kids out to play in the sunshine as often as possible to help them get enough vitamin D, which is crucial for growing muscle and bone development. Right now, most kids don’t get more than 300 IU of vitamin D a day, which is much less than the dietary intake goal of 600 IU/day. (source)
Children between the ages of one and three need between 1,200 and 1,400 calories per day. Children between the ages of four and six need between 1,500 and 1,750 calories per day. Children between the ages of seven and nine need between 1,700 and 1,950 calories per day. But because their brains and bodies are developing, they also need significant amount of nutrients – both macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). In order to get all of the nutrients they need, the overwhelming majority of their foods need to be very nutrient dense.
When kids eat sugar, or fill up on, sugary carbohydrates, they are too full to eat the nutrient rich foods they need to grow and be healthy! So it’s a double edged sword – kids eat sugar which has bad health effects and they are missing the nutrient rich foods that they really need! I believe that too many children right here in America can be overfed and undernourished. Think about it!
TODAY’S PERSONAL SUGAR ADDICTION CHALLENGE:
Think about whether there is a spot in your day to remove one sugary carbohydrate and add in one nutrient dense food. Maybe a snack?
SUGAR ADDICTION ACTION ITEM:
Replace that one sugary carbohydrate with a nutrient dense food!
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