February 2017: Two Swedish teenagers come over to Utah for a week. My daughter is serving in their Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints “branch” or small congregation. She said, “Please have them for dinner!” We are enjoying dinner and peppering them with questions. Cameron, my son, asked them, “What do you think are some of the biggest differences between Sweden and the US?” One of their answers was,”Your food tastes too sweet.”
August 2018: We are boating with our children and their friends. Cameron’s roommate is dating a girl from Portugal, named Ines. She has been going to college here for a year. She was talking about food differences and she said, “Everything here is so sweet! I have gained 16 lbs!”
September 2018: At a family cookout a few nights ago at my sister-in-law’s, an exchange student from Norway was saying she couldn’t get used to how sweet everything is. She said, “Even your milk tastes sweet!” Her host mother (my niece, Aimee) went with her to the store to find food like how she eats in Norway. She said, “We found my cereal but it still had 7 grams of sugar, we found my dark wheat bread but it still had sugar added. ” She added, “I make sure there is absolutely no sugar in the cereal I am eating because I can’t take the taste of both the cereal and the milk having sugar added.”
We ended the night with all-American s’mores!
I am ok with the obvious sugar stuff. A “s’more’ is gooey, chocolate-y goodness. A treat through and through. Let’s have treats on holidays, birthdays, and a nice dessert for Sunday dinner. What I have issue with is sneaking sugar into everything from ketchup to milk, to bread.
My friends have been buzzing about this BYU talk that was given by Dr. Benjamin Bikman on July 17, 2018.
It isn’t out in written text yet, and it’s 35 minutes long–but you can download it on your phone and it’s great to listen to while you are running errands.
From BYU’s student newspaper, The Daily Universe: (Also the above picture is from the Daily Universe.)
“Bikman said he cringes when he sees people lined up at the drive-thru of popular soda shops at 8 a.m. because he knows the impact that much sugar will have on their bodies. Eating sugar and starches, particularly in large amounts throughout the day, spikes insulin drastically and slows the metabolism, according to Bikman. This contributes greatly to the body’s production of fat.’
“Bikman said it’s important to create limits with sugar and recognize where sugar might be hiding in the foods you eat each day. He said even common foods like ketchup, peanut butter, pickles and bacon often have sugar as an ingredient.’
“Know the enemy. If what you’re eating comes with a box or bag or has a bar code, it often comes with added sugars,” Bikman said. “My advice is that those trying to kick a sugar habit eat no sugary foods six days of the week, and then one day of the week, they can have one small treat.”
“Bikman also said almost any other sweetener is better than sugar. Xylitol, erythritol and stevia are fine substitutes, according to Bikman. He said it may depend on a person’s gut bacteria as to whether they can handle these sweeteners, but they are safe and healthier than sugar.”
He talks about how highly refined starches and sugar is leading to unprecedented amounts of people having insulin resistance, starting years earlier before diabetes or other diseases are in the picture.
In other words, we can trash our bodies years before we push it over the edge. Dr. Bikman says, “Our bodies are a temporal tool in which to learn the lessons of eternity.”
He talks about the importance of understanding carbohydrates, protein and fats. Here is a basic youtube video on the difference between bad and good carbs. It is 59 seconds long.
I have tried no sugar at my house and that causes your children to run to the neighbors and beg and do hostile takeovers at ward parties. I have since learned that when I have jars of candy at my house, and my kids can eat all they want, their desire goes way down. They eat themselves sick and they learn to differentiate between higher quality desserts and the stuff made with lots of preservatives. I also closely examine labels and only buy ketchup that says it contains no high fructose corn syrup. I try to promote the good carbs not the bad ones in fixing meals. Below is a pediatric nutritionist from Australia explaining these hidden sugars in foods. She said the Australian recommendations for sugar for children is 3 teaspoons a day. I looked up the US recommendation for children and it is 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar, double that of the recommendation in Australia. Which is interesting… oh that sugar lobby! This also explains why I love ketchup so much!
Finally, I am including the bottom video if you want to have your child better understand why eating too much sugar can overwhelm their bodies. It could use some editing–it is about 10 minutes– but she teaches the concepts well and I think it’s helpful for your child to see how your pancreas can get overwhelmed and what sugar does to our cells.
I think teaching the “why” with good visualization is always more effective than shutting down all sugar and lecturing. And you can be a good example as well!
Please send me any links for teaching children good nutrition!