If you really added up all the sugar that a typical kid gets in a day, you would be astounded! The hidden sources are about to shock you, hope you are sitting down. Come to think of it, the reasons for avoiding it go way beyond “empty calories” too. Maybe you better lie down.

Take a look at the video called Sugar: The Bitter Truth on YouTube. Dr R Lustig is a paediatric obesity specialist who makes a compelling argument about how sugar impacts the liver to render it as toxic as a shot of vodka. The previous common wisdom was that sugar wasn’t so bad in moderation as long as the caloric load didn’t contribute to weight gain. We are now discovering that it is, in and of itself, a huge problem. This is especially true when consumed in liquid form without its original fibre and minerals. Here is the scary part: juice falls into that category. Even the juice that says it is 100% fruit and the “not from concentrate” stuff is suspect under this new microscope.

Any juice, unless it is the crushed whole fruit as in a smoothie has the same impact on the body as a few tablespoons full of sugar or a can of soda. Many of these beverages will tell you that you are getting the “equivalent of 2 servings of fruit” and they are allowed to because two fruits went in. But a child’s body doesn’t think so. The body is looking for the rest of the food that would go with that fruit, it wants to break down the fibre to get at the fruit and use the remaining minerals to balance the sugar. Yikes! And we thought a few glasses of juice were at least providing some vitamin C. And it is. But, at what cost? Maybe it is time to look for an alternative.

Sugar is also hiding in packages as unsuspecting as bread. It is well worth the effort to make a quick check of all packages and labels that each day brings:

  • Bread
  • Granola bars
  • Cereals
  • Treats
  • Chips
  • Bottled sauces, condiments and marinades

When you add it all up, it’s likely about the country’s heavy average of just under 12 teaspoons per day or about 60 grams. That’s about 7.5 cups per month of pure, unadulterated, damaging white stuff.

There are some simple solutions that can knock that number in half.

  1. Remove juice (see recipe below for an alternative). Water or milk are best beverages.
  2. Read all packages and choose each one wisely, if sugar is in the top 4 ingredients, it isn’t for you
  3. Bake your own cookies and muffins using less sugar and more whole foods like carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes and bananas. They are sweet, come with other nutrients as well as the important mitigating fibre.
  4. Try adding some protein and good fat to a higher sugar moment. A small piece of cheese or a few nuts can help mitigate the blood sugar impact
  5. Serve whole fruits instead of juices

Herbal Tea Juice Substitute
By: Theresa Albert, DHN, RNCP

1 ½ litre boiling water
3 herbal tea bags (fruity flavours work best to start)
2 rooibos tea bags
2 tbsp agave nectar or honey

Bring water to a boil and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place tea bags into a glass pitcher with a large metal spoon (to prevent cracking the pitcher). Pour boiling water over tea bags into pitcher and allow to cool, stir in agave nectar to sweeten. Store in fridge and serve as juice.