Unless there is a specific health risk, similar to nut allergies, the idea of banning sugar altogether is overkill. By doing so, you run the risk of creating an unnecessary temptation (and, honestly, who doesn't occasionally crave the very things we can't have). Instead, permit your children to enjoy the occasional treat, while supplementing their sweet tooth with a more nutritious and balanced diet.
At parties, where sweets are almost mandatory, make sure to have plenty of non-sugar-containing snack options for your guests. And while there is no proven link between sugar and hyperactivity, research shows that the "sugar rush" and "post-sugar crash" phenomenon are a reality. The reasons are fairly straightforward: Consuming too much sugar prompts the body to produce insulin, which initially prompts a "sugar rush," but eventually results in a drop of blood-sugar levels. That can leave your child feeling lethargic or listless. It can also encourage your child to eat more sugar, creating an unwanted cyclical effect.
The best approach, say nutritionists, is to provide balanced snacks along with the sweets, and ration just how many sugar-based snacks are available. Frozen fruit smoothies are a terrific alternative, provided you make them yourself, and control the amount of sugar used. Store-bought, prepared smoothies might look the same, but like any pre-packaged product, they can have a much higher sugar content.
Lastly, set a good example in your own daily eating habits. And don't worry about enjoying the occasional sweet with your children -- if you don't make a big deal of it, your kids won't either. However, make sure you enjoy those treats within reason. Your children will learn that lesson as well.
Ready for a snack? We've got lots more information for you below.
- Adams, Cecil. "Does giving sweets to kids produce a 'sugar rush?'" The Straight Dope. Feb. 15, 2008. (Aug. 22, 2011) http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2747/does-giving-sweets-to-kids-produce-a-sugar-rush
- Hitti, Miranda. "Kids' Diets Have Too Much Added Sugar." WebMD. Jan. 13, 2005. (Aug. 22, 2011)
- Regalado, Michael. "Busting the Sugar-Hyperactivity Myth." MedicineNet.com/WebMD. Jan. 30, 2005. (Aug. 24, 2011)
- Saxelby, Catherine. "Sugar: How Much is OK?" Australian Health Management Group. (Aug. 23, 2011)
- Scott, Heather. "Too Much Sugar: How Sugar Impacts Kids." Kaboose. (Aug. 22, 2011)
- Snyder Sachs, Jessica. "Sugar: Does It Really Make Kids Hyper?" Parenting. (Aug. 22, 2011)
- Tomovich Jacobsen, Maryann. "Managing Sweets: 10 Strategies for Ending Kids' Sugar Obsession." RaiseHealthyEaters.com. Feb. 18, 2011. (Aug. 23, 2011)
- WebMD. "Healthy Eating for Children -- Changing Your Family's Eating Habits." WebMD.com. March 1, 2010. (Aug. 24, 2011).
- WebMD. "Sugar: The Other Teen Drinking Problem." Fit/WebMD slide show. (Aug. 24, 2011)
- What To Expect. "Kids and Sugar: The Skinny on Sweets." WhatToExpect.com. (Aug. 23, 2011)
- What To Expect. "Sugar for Kids: Sweet Nothings?" WhatToExpect.com. (Aug. 23, 2011) http://www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/eating-basics/sweet-nothings.aspx