10. Sweet addicts, healthy kids, diet recaps

Our 2 LOVES

Sugar is the first. Yes, it’s highly addictive and one of the most difficult cravings to control. We simply blame the ‘sweet tooth’! 

BUT … my theory is that we can still enjoy our cakes, choccies and ice-cream – as long as we avoid them after a main meal, and keep portions moderate. Having a few nuts (walnuts or almonds are best, which I always carry with me) with your desserts will release blood sugar more steadily and slowly, and help the pancreas maintain its blood-sugar balance.

I realise that for some of you, just one mouthful of anything sweet will trigger a feeding frenzy. So in this case, avoid it altogether! Having more protein and less carbs with your meals will reduce sugar-cravings. 

Alcohol is the other. We ‘need’ wine, beer and spirits to unwind, relax, enjoy, forget. It fills our glasses and looks good in our hands. But please read this link from the Mayo Clinic on how more than 2 glasses of alcohol a day can damage the body. I’m afraid the ‘red wine is good for you’ theory is all but debunked! (And by the way, it sets the wrong example for your children to follow. Even giving them a little taste can set an addictive pattern.) 

But you know what? I LOVE parties, conversations and having a good time! I’ll have wine, a cocktail or beer if I feel like it but not with my meals. My wine glass is quarter-full, and spirits to less than 200mls. That’s all for the whole evening. And I’m up the next morning feeling pretty good!    

Now, let’s help our kids!

West Aussie bro & sis (rarely so pally)
Wollongong baby Elsie at 10 months  

Did you know social media, particularly YouTube, abounds with young ‘kidfluencers’ targeting other kids? As much as 90 per cent of YouTube videos directed at kids promote junk foods like ‘milkshakes, French fries, soft drinks and cheeseburgers’. Such blatant marketing is also strongly linked to the growing scourge of obesity in children.1

A ‘wellness expert’ on radio has said that giving children a ‘broad spectrum probiotic’ was good because ‘there is nothing worse than a constipated child’.

But what of the DIET of the constipated child? Are kids not gobbling up biscuits, nuggets, chips, and demanding everything ‘yummy’ seen on ads everywhere? So will you now simply give them probiotics to undo the harmful effects of junk food? Or will you encourage them to chew on an apple, a carrot or something that hasn’t been cooked or sweetened? This is essential fibre that they need.  

You can read all you need to know for healthy growing children in Chapter 12 of Eat Like The Animals ‘A Unique Appetite’.2

So what should we do?

  • For school-age kids, the first step is to wean them off sugary fruit drinks. Put fresh fruit in their lunchboxes and a bottle of water instead. While we cannot control what they eat outside, you can at least ensure their lunches are healthy! 
  • Make them choose at least one salad vegetable (possibly cucumber or tomato) for their sandwich (provided it’s not with peanut butter). You might consider a small reward.  
  • Teach them the value of healthy eating, and that processed sugary foods are HARMFUL. Tell them a banana, dates instead of fries will give them ENERGY to play their favourite sports, and that sugary drinks cause bad teeth and more time at the tooth doctor with the drill!
  • Make their diet 70% fresh foods, and get them to drink more water. Provide some entertaining kids’ health books to read. Children love stories and have an enquiring mind. As long as they know why, they will react positively.

    I recommend Andrew Solway’s Your Body Inside and Out for 6-year-olds and above. It has kid-friendly diagrams of the human body, including the digestive system. He stresses the particular link between ‘sugary foods’ and tooth rot, where acidic bacteria produced from such foods erode teeth, and the importance of having 5 fruit and veg portions daily. He echoes my words: 

    ‘We should only have small amounts of sweet or fatty foods … Foods such as crisps and takeaway foods are fatty and have lots of salt. If you eat a healthy diet when you are young, it will keep you healthy and strong into old age.’3
  • Better still, introduce toddlers to healthy food early, and get them used to chewing.  Introduce rolled oats instead of processed cereals for breakfast – honey and sultanas on top will be yummy for them! Avoid white bread if possible, and introduce apples and raw carrots as finger foods

Weight loss recap

  • Don’t diet to extremes – you’ll only revert to your original eating habits. Instead, eat less. Your stomach will contract and you’ll eventually feel uncomfortable when you overeat.
  • Keep to my method of reducing carb portions slowly. Choose unrefined starches over refined.
  • Switch your low-fat milk, cream and yoghurt to full-fat. Low-fat anything has extra sugar and additives you don’t need. 
  • Remove all sugary drinks (‘Zero Sugar’ in soft drinks will not tame your sweet tooth or reduce your cravings, but only bloat your stomach). Drink less alcohol, eliminate dessert and fruit after main meals. This will give amazing results (no bloated stomach or flabby waist for one.) The reward? Cravings for junk food and sugar will slowly but surely disappear. 
  • When you know you’ll be out for a while, always take water, an apple or even a healthy sandwich with you – hunger will only lead you to a fast food counter. 
  • When your brain says ‘have more’, don’t listen. STOP after you know you’re past your usual amount. In less than 2 hours, you’ll be glad you resisted – you’ll feel full, and not be tormented with that ‘wish I hadn’t eaten so much’ feeling.

Professors David Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson in How to Eat like the Animals perfectly summarise practising good eating habits and not dieting to extremes:

‘It’s like learning a sport, to play a musical instrument, or to drive an automobile: at first it takes concentration, consciously applying the rules, rehearsing them and unlearning bad habits. And then it becomes second nature. Unless there are specific medical reasons, you don’t need to cut out on any food group or eat things that you don’t like, or that are not appropriate to your food culture. It’s just an issue of proportions.’4

Lastly, a quote from geneticist Dr Giles Yeo, author of Gene Eating:

‘The most important truth is that food should be understood, not feared’.

1 O’Connor, A. (2020, November 6). Are ‘kidfluencers’ making our kids fat? Sydney Morning Herald [from The New York Times]. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/ are-kidfluencers-making-our-kids-fat- 20201106-p56c1v.html

 2 Raubenheimer, D. & Simpson, S. (2020). How to Eat like the Animals, p.151. HarperCollins Publishers: Sydney.

 3 Solway, A. (2007). Your body inside and out: Food and digestion, pp. 9, 28, 29. Franklin Watts Australia: Sydney.

  4 Raubenheimer & Simpson, p.202.

11. Regular as clockwork or LATE?

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