The Hidden Sugar in Food
A couple of days ago, I posted about how sugar consumption by kids actually causes addiction. Unfortunately, it is actually a really difficult thing to keep your kids away from sugar. It seems to be in everything today! I am constantly reading labels so I can be aware of exactly what my kids are consuming.
Food producing companies try to get kids addicted from a young age. Almost every baby food and snack I look at has sugar added to it. And just because it is “fructose” from fruit or it is “pure cane sugar” does not make it any better! It’s still processed, added sugar – and it’s getting your kids addicted.
There is no reason for sugar to be added to baby food, ever. Fortunately, new movements led by mums like you and me have led to new brands and food products being offered. Today, you are more likely to find sugar-free baby food than even 2 or 3 years ago.
This is the good news: If we keep up the pressure, companies will produce less and less sugary products.
In fact, so much sugar is added to all our food that as adults we are not even aware of it. Our taste buds have been desensitized so that we get our “fix” without even knowing it. From mayonnaise to peanut butter, there is added sugar in it. There is no reason why the tomato sauce for our pizza or the dressing for our salad should contain so much sugar. Except that we – and our children – are addicted.
Whole grain oats, modified corn starch, corn starch, sugar…
Sugar is, essentially, the third ingredient on the list! Rice Krispies? No better.
Ingredients Rice, sugar, salt, malt flavoring, iron, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D.
The second ingredient is sugar! And there’s malt flavoring in there, too. Malt is made by a process that turns the starch in barley into sugar, so that’s also a hidden sweetener. And these are just two of the simplest, “healthy” cereals, think about all the other foods your kids are eating.
And sugar comes in many forms. Simple carbohydrates like white rice and white flour break down directly into sugar in our bodies. That’s why your child probably prefers white bread over whole wheat – it is sweet – it fuels his addiction. A diet high in carbohydrates changes the biochemistry in your child’s brain in just the same way drugs do.* Which is, incidentally, exactly the same way the brain reacts to added, processed, refined sugars.
If we want to be aware of the sugars we are feeding our kids, there is only one thing we can do: Resort to reading labels.
*Spring B, Chiodo J, et al. Carbohydrates, tryptophan, and behavior: A methodological review. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 102(2), Sep 1987, 234-256.