Wednesday, November 4, 2015
WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Drowning in Sugar
"When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."
This week Growing Healthy Kids has been very busy teaching 3 classes for 75 children. I wish it was 300 classes for 5,000 kids.
Our children are drowning in sugar. There are 600,000 foods found in grocery stores and more than 80% contain added sugar. These processed foods are marketing directly and indirectly to kids. It is no wonder we have a problem with childhood obesity in the United States.
Children listen when they know someone cares and teaches so they can easily “digest the lesson” about how easy it is to make healthy choices. It is so gratifying reaching little ones in an after school program, inspiring them to listen, engage, and learn for an hour. The best part is the huge hugs when the children leave! When a child says to me, “This is the best day of my life,” that is proof that our work is making a difference.
The fuel for the obesity epidemic is the obscene amount of added sugars in the foods children eat. As children learn to identify foods that are bad for them, they become more interested in foods that are good for them. Once we teach children these two things, then we teach them how to prepare delicious foods. Nothing is a better teaches than playing with your food!
Why should you care? Americans eat and drink an average of 41 teaspoons of sugar a day. The recommendation from American Heart Association is 6-9 teaspoons a day, more than what is in one soda or one cup of fruit juice. The human body is not designed to process 41 teaspoons of sugar a day. When we and our children consume added sugars like the high fructose corn syrup found in sodas, most breads and cookies, the sugar is stored as fat. Giving kids fruit juice is the same as giving them soda.
The fact is that excess sugar is stored as fat. Americans cannot afford the price tag that comes with childhood obesity. When one child has a heart attack because they have been eating foods high in added sugars, we have done wrong. If we do not take care of our children, then who will?
While reaching 5,000 kids this week would have been terrific, it is an honor to reach the 75 children who attended our classes. Most of those 75 kids have 2 parents, some have one. Which means by empowering 75 kids we are also reaching at least 125 adults. Empowering kids is like skipping a rock in the pond and counting the skips. Each rock we throw in the pond is like one child. The skips are the families that one child can teach, once they are empowered.
If we don’t empower our children with the literacy needed to make good decisions about their health, then who will?
Drink water, not soda.
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.