Originally featured on Philly Baby Bump
Over the last few years it has become apparent to me that I have a sugar addiction. Some people look at this and brush it off laughingly saying, “Doesn’t everyone have a sugar addiction?” And I, in all seriousness, say, “Yes. They very possibly do.” Now I can’t vouch for anyone except myself, so I will explain my situation and how real this addiction is for me. Then I will explain the risk my baby has for this addiction as well.
I can’t go a day without sugar. I know I have this addiction and am currently taking steps to overcome it, like any other addict would. I try to not buy it and not let it come into my house. To this you might think I am succeeding, but the problem is, I’m a baker and still have those resources on hand. I crave sugar so bad sometimes that I will pull out my baking supplies, which include sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, Caro syrup, etc. and whip something up. Some days I will even reach in the back of my medicine cabinet for a gummy calcium chew just so I can calm my craving!
Before you start thinking this is just a mental or perhaps emotional pull that I have for sugar and sweets, take a look at this statistic. “Studies show that your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine or heroin. In fact, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.” (Fed Up, 2014) Think it’s just a sweet tooth now? In the documentary Fed Up, they discovered that when looking at sugar on any nutritional value chart, the daily allowance “percentage” is never printed. It’s true! Go grab any nutritional label and see for yourself.
In fact, when the nation went on the whole “no fat/low fat” move they discovered that things didn’t taste as good without fat. So what was their filler? Sugar. Maybe if the sugar percentage was listed we may think twice about eating a candy bar that is over 500% of our daily sugar allowance.
It is not just me who has this addiction either, my husband has it too and he admits it. We have had many talks and have agreed that if we are both sugar addicts, then the chances of our daughter being an addict is extremely high, maybe even certain. Just like a baby with alcoholic parents is more likely to have the same alcohol tendency later in life, so too is it with the drug (yes, I am so bold to call it that) sugar. A study found on http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org says, “If a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, the child had an 8 times greater chance of developing an addiction.”
So what can we do for our baby daughter who started solids a few months ago? Our solution is to keep her pallet away from sugar for as long as possible. We have gone so far as to start her on simple grains (rice, oatmeal), legumes and vegetables. Fruit was not even introduced until the second month of solids, and even then, in small increments and ideally mixed or placed alongside with vegetables (the same goes with meats). The result, she is a vegetable lover!
“If you start your baby early on addictive highly sugary foods, they’re going to become addicted. The food industry knows that the earlier they introduce these foods to people, to children, to infants, the more likely they will have branded them for the future.” (Fed Up, 2014) I have even requested that my baby’s 1-year smash cake be molded out of sweet potato frosting!
World-renowned chef Jamie Oliver was on to the same thing when he said, “There’s sugar in everything. I know the ins and outs of those ingredients. It’s in everything. Even the milk hasn’t escaped the kind of modern-day problems. There’s our milk. There’s our carton. In that is nearly as much sugar as one of your favorite cans of fizzy pop, and they [school children] are having two a day.” (Ted Talks, Jamie Oliver, Teach Every Child About Food, link below).
While educating a kindergarten class Jamie held up various vegetables for the kids to guess what they were. Holding a tomato up, they guessed potato. There was no recognition on their faces until the word “ketchup” was mentioned. Jamie’s solution is to inform children of healthy foods, what their names are, where they come from, and how to cook them. He believes that if children know these things they will be more willing and actually want to eat them!
What it comes down to is that I will be held accountable for what my baby eats because I am the one offering it. It can be hard to turn down a lot of well meaning offers of sugary foods but there also comes a certain satisfaction when your baby prefers vegetables above all else. Yes I have my good days and bad days and so does my baby. We are by no means perfect! But I am trying and that’s what my daughter needs to see.
“Fed Up (2014)” (find on Netflix)
To learn more about addictions: “The Genetics of Addiction”