I am not a fan of sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I like to eat sugary foods just like anyone else. I love cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, and strawberry shortcake. So, yes I like sugar, but I am not a fan of sugar. I am not a fan of what it does to our bodies and how it has stolen the health of so many Americans. I’m saddened by the grip sugar has on many of our children and how it sets them up for a host of health problems in the future. We don’t do this on purpose as loving parents but by not limiting our children’s sugar intake we can be seriously compromising their future health.

A recent study came out and showed that, as parents, we greatly underestimate how much sugar is in the foods our children consume, and it should make all of us take notice. The study goes on to show a relationship between how poorly parents estimate their child’s sugar intake with their child’s increased obesity.

Most parents in this study significantly underestimated their kids’ sugar intake—primarily because of hidden sugar in processed foods that are commonly seen as “healthy.” For example, over 90 percent of parents underestimated the amount of sugar in yogurt by an average of seven cubes, or about 60 percent of the total amount of sugar per serving.

So why are parents missing how much sugar kids are eating? Perhaps because we are not paying attention to what WE are eating. One other recent study showed that an average American adult gets 60 percent of their calories not just from processed food, but from “ultra-processed” food, which consists of sugar, salt, fats, and oils plus artificial and natural flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other additives. If the adults can’t get it right, how can the kids?

The simplest way I have found to teach a child or an adult what is healthy or not healthy is to have them ask the question, “Who made it?” Who made the food? Is it a manmade food or is it a God-made food? Eating real food greatly reduces your chances of making the wrong food choices. I know there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, if you stick with a food that came off the tree, out of the ground, or used to run, swim, or fly, you will be pretty close. God made apples and he made some Jacks, but He most certainly did not make “Apple Jacks.”

If you eat real food you will be cutting out the highly processed and refined foods that have become a mainstay of the American diet. This will cause you to enhance the number of fresh, nutrient-dense, whole foods in your diet. Change is always difficult, and this might be difficult at first for the kids and the parent making the school lunch, but that’s not a reason not to do it. Many parents have gone before you, and there are plenty of resources out there now to make it easier.  Here is a school lunch menu that can be a great healthy meal for your child tomorrow.

Lunch Menu: Chicken Salad, Coconut Trail Mix, Blanched Carrots and Broccoli with flavored mayo.

Healthy Chicken Salad:

¼ pound cubed cooked chicken or leftover rotisserie chicken
Add a dollop of homemade mayo with a squirt of Dijon mustard.
Add salt, pepper, and Italian parsley to taste.

(Homemade Mayo:)

1 large egg yolk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¾ cup macadamia nut oil or avocado oil
All ingredients should be at room temperature. Place all ingredients EXCEPT the oil in a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Add ¼ cup of oil slowly while whisking for 30 seconds until mixed well. Repeat with another ¼ cup of oil. Add the last ¼ all at once and combine until very smooth mayo is produced.

Coconut Trail Mix:

16 oz. roasted, unsalted sunflower seed kernels
16 oz. raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
8 oz. roasted, unsalted almond slivers
6 oz. dried pineapple, cut up
5 oz. dried flake coconut (I prefer to toast them if I have the time.)
3 oz. dried cherries

Blanched Carrots and Broccoli:

Raw veggies work, but blanched veggies are sometimes tolerated better by the picky eaters.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and add ¼ cup of carrots and ¼ cup of broccoli to the pot for 30 seconds. Pull the veggies out and place them in an ice bath until cool. They can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Everyone likes to dip their veggies! Try this Asian Almond Dressing to dip these veggies in.

Asian Almond Dressing:

3 tablespoons creamy almond butter
2 tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon of coconut vinegar
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, and whisk to combine.

Sugar Addict? L-glutamine can help!

If you have a sugar addict at home, try adding a tablespoon of L-glutamine to the daily routine. L-glutamine is a safe amino acid that has been shown to aid the cravings that come with sugar addiction. If you are an adult trying to help fight off your cravings, add one more tablespoon to your daily routine for a total of 2 tablespoons daily. Simply add the flavorless powder to a small amount of water and almost any child will swallow it right down.

Other L-glutamine uses:

  • Improves muscle recovery post workout
  • Aides in weight loss by increasing fat burning
  • Improves deep sleep patterns
  • Improves immune function during illness
  • Reduces inflammation and increases healing of the gut

L-Glutamine is 10% off now through October 4! Stop in our office today, and pick some up to begin curbing the sugar addictions in your family.

With almost 20 percent of kids now obese, we urgently need to bring more attention to how they are eating. Reducing sugar consumption is possibly the most important first step. Be a parent or grandparent that is involved in the lives of the little ones around you. Care enough to get involved and lead by example.

Daryl C. Rich, D.C., C.S.C.S.