A "discussion" on Twitter about whether parents should allow their children to eat sugared cereals became pretty heated today. First of all, mothers go on the serious offense if they perceive that another woman has something negative about how she is raising her children. Add to the mix a disagreement over what is "good nutrition" for children, and whoa...ladies, ladies, ladies! Let's break it up and go to your separate corners, all right!
Well, I happen to agree with the moms who feel that feeding refined sugar and flour products to children is not only nutritionally unsound, but it is also setting them up for some serious issues with food addiction. It may not happen while they are children--they might get to their 30s or 40s before the weight starts piling on. But it's a lot more complicated than "oh, I'm getting older and my metabolism is slowing down." It's all about craving the good stuff--the hot,fresh French bread slathered with butter, deep dish pizza with loads of oozing extra cheese and pepperoni, mountains of nachos dripping with cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacomole--are you getting the picture here? And all of those delights are usually introduced in childhood.
Now, mothers do not know how their children will react to this food. They have no idea that the first bite of Ben Jerry's ice cream at two years old will be become two pints before bedtime at age 45. And that's in addition to the Claim Jumper family size lasagna that Mommy's former sugar pumpkin had for dinner. No, there's no crystal ball that can predict a morbidly obese future for Mama's lil' darlin'. But Mom can certainly keep the odds favorable by keeping the fresh veggies and fruit on her sweetie-kin's plate, and putting a permanent moratorium on all refined flour and sugar products. If you don't give it to them, they won't develop a taste for it, at least not on your watch. They can (and will) do whatever they want once they are grown. But you will breathe a lot easier knowing that it won't be because you piled that poison into their systems.
You don't think it's poison? An occasional treat is not going to be harmful? All right, you don't have to believe anything I say. Just check out what the good Dr. McDougall has to say about it:
Food Processing Raises Insulin Levels and More
When people consume significant quantities of unhealthy foods for prolonged periods of time their bodies show signs of distress, usually a rise in one or more risk factors—such as an elevation of blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and/or insulin. These values are called “risk factors” because they are associated with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The association is not one of “cause and effect,” but rather rich foods cause them to rise and concurrently cause people to become sick.
The refining of plant foods commonly results in elevations of insulin levels. When whole grains are ground into whole flours nothing is added or removed, yet the properties of the food have changed. The physical structure has gone from a nugget to a powder—as a result the surface area of the food exposed to the intestinal lining has increased and the natural fibers of the food have been disrupted. This simple grinding process results in a greater elevation in the insulin levels in a person’s blood after eating, than that which is caused by the whole grain.1 During the next step of purification the whole grain flour is sifted to remove the chaff, thereby eliminating dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. The end product of this purification is white flour, which causes an even greater rise in insulin than the unrefined flour.
A classic experiment reported in 1977 showed similar effects on insulin production from the processing of fruit.2 After eating an apple, subjects showed a small rise and fall in blood sugar (glucose) and a small rise in blood insulin levels. Applesauce, made by simply grinding the apples, caused a greater rise in insulin and subsequent fall in blood sugar. The juice, made by removing the pulp, caused the largest rise in insulin and fall in blood sugar levels. These kinds of studies demonstrate that consuming grains, vegetables and fruits in their unprocessed form is healthiest for the body.
Look, there's no doubt that my mother loved me. She had no idea that I had a very dangerous propensity to be addicted to flour, fats and sugar(probably genetic, since most of my family members are addicts of one sort or another). There's nothing wrong with giving a little candy to a pretty little sweet, quiet and well-behaved child, is there? My mother told me about how some Japanese women thought my sister and I were living dolls, and they gave us handfuls of rice candy. I was about a year and a half, my sister was six months old. Later, I remember being intoxicated by the smell of my mother's homemade oatmeal and raisin cookies, and feeling crazed with anticipation for the second they came out of the oven. I was four, not yet fat.
But in two short years, I was chubby. By eight, I was fat. At age ten, I was obese. And my addiction to flour, sugar and fat spiraled beyond any measure of control. I weighed 301 pounds after I gave birth to my son in 1982. I was 24 years old. My mother was almost in physical pain every time she looked at me when I was at that weight. Little did she know that I would weigh 100 pounds more by age 42. But at least she didn't have to be tormented with guilt by the sight of me at that time. She'd had several heart attacks and a major stroke, and the result was she was far too ill to take note of my double-wide body.
It wasn't my mother's fault. She didn't know that sugar and flour would cause an unbelievably strong reaction in my body, creating intense cravings and total mental obsession with getting more and more food. My mom wanted a much better life for me. But those powerful drugs, flour and sugar, were more powerful than my mother's unconditional love.
I would like for the reader to watch the excerpt from the TLC (The Learning Channel)series "Inside Brookhaven Obesity Clinic" and consider this--all of those super morbidly obese people were just like me. They lost control of their addiction to flour and sugar products, and they had been condemned to an unhealthy, tortuously hellish existence that is isolated from most people and normal activities. And I'm sure their mothers didn't want them to be food addicts any more than mine.