• Mon, Mar 1 2010

Bad kid or bad sugar?

I don’t care what the experts say.

Sugar makes my kid nuts.

It creeps up on him.  A fruit bar with lunch, maybe some yogurt.  A boxed drink.  The teacher’s aide gives out some candy as a reward.  One kid’s mom brings in donuts from the bakery where she works.  The neighbor brings him See’s butterscotch lollies back from her trip to San Francisco. There’s leftover Valentine’s candy all over the house.

You see where I”m going with this?

Suddenly, my usually sunny, always argumentative, very inventive boy is in a craptastic mood.  He’s too sensitive, he takes everything the wrong way, he’s irrationally angry about something, he’s throwing a temper tantrum…  so we start putting two and two together. What’s changed? Nothing. Nothing but the amount of sugar he’s consuming.

You know your kids better than anyone.  If you notice behavioral issues after a big sugar dump, or if you start to suspect they are sensitive to a particular food–wheat and gluten especially are often culprits–then do something about it.  Do a trial elimination, just like when you were introducing new foods when your kids were babies.  If no sugar has your household dancing around a perfect angel again, experiment with it.  How much is too much? Is it high fructose corn syrup (read those hotdog packages carefully, moms!) or refined sugars, or all sweeteners?  Is it worse at the end of the day?

Sugar is addictive.  It’s empty calories, for the most part.  It’s not necessary.  Try dropping some of it from your lives, and see what a difference a cake makes.

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  • Anna

    My son eats way too much sugar, so I’m just trying to limit the intake. His valentine’s “mailbox” from school went on top of the fridge and hasn’t come down since, and I hid the Halloween candy pretty fast, too, and if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.

    Have you ever noticed a reaction to goldfish crackers? They send my boy into the clouds…

  • http://www.insidemotherhood.com Christina

    Anna, have you considered trying an elimination diet? Look at the ingredients on the Goldfish box. See what’s there. See if other foods with key ingredients do the same thing. I know my kid is sensitive to wheat, and when he was a toddler we took him off wheat for an entire year. When he’d eat it, he’d go into a rage.

    We gradually reintroduced it, but I try to limit his intake.

    Crackers aren’t so hard to make, and if you have little cookie cutters, you can have some real fun with it.

    Good luck!

  • http://dailyplateofcrazy.com BigLittleWolf

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this: “You know your kids better than anyone else.”

    It may have to do with the amount of sugar, or the amount of sleep, or stress, or any number of things. Whatever the “norms” say (or the experts or the teachers), we really do know our kids better than anyone, and we know their limits and their hot buttons.

    It’s our responsibility to be clear on that – with them, with those in positions of (even benign) authority around them – in the interest of our children.

  • http://www.solomother.com Solomother

    Thanks for weighing in on this. I was the only one who knew–knew!–that my son was sensitive to wheat as a toddler. My mother witnessed the transformation with her own eyes one afternoon, about fifteen minutes into a Cheerios snack, the kid snapped. I took a lot of heat from my inlaws for that one, let me tell you. But it was undeniable.

    Sugar seems to be another struggle for him. We don’t keep sweets in the house, but with schools giving out candy as rewards, it’s hard to know, let alone control, how much sugar he’s getting.

    We really are our children’s best advocates, and we have to have the guts to stand up for them, even when society thinks, aww, what’s the harm?