Are your Kids Addicted to Sugar?

Are your Kids Addicted to Sugar?

Think about it… are your children hooked on sugar? Do they crave it? Will they do naughty things to get their hands on sugar?  If so, they probably are actually addicted to sugar.

This about it… We have all heard the phrase, “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” but we have never heard anyone say, “Who stole the carrot from the refrigerator?”!   Why should kids be tempted to take things that don’t belong to them? Kids today are not starving, so they don’t take from the cupboards because they need to, but because they want to. Just like any drug addict, your kids will be motivated to do whatever they have to in order to get their “fix.”

I like to think that I was a pretty good child, and I’m sure my parents would agree. Yet, I have some memories from my childhood of doing things that certainly were not very good, and they were all in pursuit of sugar.

The one and only time my mother caught me stealing from a store, it was a grocery store, and I had taken a couple of pieces of candy. I had stolen one for me and one for my best friend. I certainly wasn’t stealing broccoli or lettuce!

Another time, a friend’s mother told us not to take any candy from some boxes she had. Of course we snuck in and took some. We really enjoyed eating it, until we got caught and got in trouble! I was a very sensitive child and I hated getting in trouble, so what could have motivated me to do such a thing? Sugar, of course!

And I remember watching my brother with his stash of Halloween candies. I would carefully ration mine out (and often hide the best pieces in my bedroom, where they were definitely not allowed to be, in order to have some whenever I wanted, and to keep them away from potentially thieving hands) but my brother would gobble his down in a matter of days or weeks, no matter how much he had.

And why is it that kids will throw a tantrum in the supermarket over sugary foods? You might see a kid crying for a candy bar or a box of sugary cereal, but you never see a kid screaming and crying in the aisles because mom and dad refuse to buy them a jar of pickles!

All of these things are because sugar is literally an addictive substance.  it actually acts like a drug.* Brains respond the same way to both opiates and sugar, creating dependence and cravings.**

Of course, none of us want to give our kids drugs!  But because sugar is not regulated, we assume it can’t be that bad.  After all, even legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco are regulated. Sugar is not.  And even if we know it is not healthy, we most likely do not know that it is actually addictive!

Even sugar cane in its unrefined state has a lot of healthy nutrients to offer, but modern refinement methods remove all of these and leave us with sugar, which the body reacts to as a drug.

Even sugar cane in its unrefined state has a lot of healthy nutrients to offer, but modern refinement methods remove all of these and leave us with sugar, which the body reacts to as a drug.

I refuse to give my kids sugary foods.  If I do want to give them a sweet treat, it will come sweetened with a natural sweetener, like honey, agave syrup, date syrup, or maple syrup.  These natural sweeteners contain beneficial vitamins and minerals, which in fact, sugar cane juice also does, in its unrefined state.

All of this is, of course, important food for thought.  Are you giving your kids sugary foods? Could they be addicted to this substance?

Share your thoughts and your comments below!

* Avena, N.M., Rada, P., Hoebel B.G., 2007. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32(1), 20-39.

** Rudolph Spangler, Knut M Wittkowski, Noel L Goddard, Nicole M Avena, Bartley G Hoebel, Sarah F Leibowitz, Opiate-like effects of sugar on gene expression in reward areas of the rat brain, Molecular Brain Research, Volume 124, Issue 2, 19 May 2004, Pages 134-142, ISSN 0169-328X.