Sugar is the reason we started this blog. We watched a Jamie Oliver TED lecture a couple of years ago and were so shocked at the level of sugar in the diets of the average child, we felt compelled to start blogging.
Halloween has been and gone and we are surrounded by sweets in our house. It got us thinking about sugar and how much we consume as a nation as a result we’ve decided to write a series of blog posts, called the “Sugar Series”, on this controversial topic.
Firstly, we need a quick disclaimer – neither of us are nutritionists or dieticians, we are just ordinary parents who want to try to do our best by our three kids and teach them to be aware of sugar and its sometimes hidden presence in seemingly innocent ‘healthy’ foods.
As parents who love to get our kids baking and cooking wherever possible, we’re all for a little sugar now and again as it’s often an essential ingredient in baking and we are not against them having sweets and chocolates but we firmly believe in ‘everything in moderation‘.
We’re breaking down ‘The Sugar Series’ into the following :
Part 1 – The facts!
Part 2 – The everyday foods to beware of!
Part 3 – What can we as parents do?
Part 1 – The Facts
What is sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate. Sometime it isn’t listed in ingredients as sugar but if it ends in an ‘ose’ it’s sugar alright. There are loads of different kinds of sugar:
- simple sugars – glucose, fructose etc
- more complex sugars – sucrose, lactose etc
(My home economics teacher would be proud of me for remembering this!)
Sugar is usually created as a result of processing one of the following plants – sugar beets or sugar cane and are refined until they resemble that white substance that we’ve all come to love. It’s worth noting that sugar has no nutritional value at all.
We’re physically programmed to like sugar but we’ve changed the amount we’re consuming.
In 1822 – the average American consumed 45 grams of sugar every five days
In 2012 – the average American consumed 756 grams of sugar every five days
What happens when we eat sugar?
When you eat sugar one of two things happen, you either
- burn it as energy
- convert it to fat and store it in your fat cells
You’ve probably heard of insulin, well it basically regulates the level of sugar in your blood, in other words, the more sugar flowing round your blood stream, the more insulin is released. If there is too much sugar in your system, too much insulin is released which results in a sugar crash (hypoglycemia). When this happens, our body tells us it needs more sugar… and the vicious cycle continues.
Sugar has been proven to be highly addictive. It’s the main reason our children are growing up in this obesity epidemic. Just because your child isn’t overweight now doesn’t mean that they will stay that way. If unhealthy eating habits are developed in childhood, the chances are that they are far more likely to have weight problems when they are older and be at an increased risk for a range of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
I don’t want to sound preachy in anyway as we’re certainly not perfect. As a mum, I’ve succumbed to sugar and it’s temptations and I carry around a few extra stones of weight to prove it! I think though that as parents we need to be educated about the effects that this harmful substance is having on the ones we love. But how has this happened? Well, unfortunately sugar has made it’s way into nearly everything we eat and we will be addressing this in our next post in ‘The Sugar Series’.
What are your views on this?