A culture dependent on sugar

It all comes down to too much sugar. Sugar causes our children to gain too much weight and lets face it, it’s hard to avoid these days.

As discussed in my new book, The Step Up Diet, extra sugar is in everything from juice drinks to condiments such as ketchup. However  not all sugar is bad! Natural sugars are found in your child’s favorite fruits and we all need to indulge in a warm chocolate chip cookie every once in awhile. So why do we get sugar cravings? Because as a culture, we have become dependent and accustomed to the taste.

The benefits of choosing water

Water is a great example of this phenomenon. Water is cheap, healthy and essential to hydration. However, the taste is plain. Children love water when it is sweetened with artificial flavors so corporations cash in on manufacturing flavored juice drinks. It’s a no brainer! Society tells us that we need to be feeding our children flavored juice drinks instead of water. But realistically, you will not harm your child by giving them water instead of Gatorade or Kool-Aid.

So if we aren’t giving our children flavored drinks, what should we give them? Chocolate milk? By drinking chocolate milk, a child is taking in 84 extra grams of sugar per day. That’s 5.6 pounds of sugar per month! Now, add a child who is a picky eater into the equation. A picky eater will substitute real food for chocolate milk and sugary drinks while eating almost nothing at mealtimes. In order to make a child eat regular food, water should be given throughout the day and regular milk should be given at mealtimes.

Breaking your child’s sugar dependency

Excess sugar not only causes weight gain but fuels a cycle of sugar dependency. By giving your child a sugary drink in their favorite sippy cup, they will learn to reach for a high-calorie soda in their teenage and adult years. We need to re-train ourselves to not offer a food as a reward or a comfort. It may take some creativity, but it is well worth it to create healthy habits for life!

In my book, The Step Up Diet, I provide a step-by-step plan to help families experience what it is like to eat the right way. The Step Up Diet teaches the body and the brain to recognize what types of food are healthy to eat, and to establish a healthy eating schedule. By focusing on one step—one segment of the day—at a time, the ultimate goal becomes less overwhelming and more manageable, helping us stay on target with our goals of eating healthier in 2013.

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.