Are we making our children sick and crazy?


“natural and artificial colors and flavors”

I was walking through the grocery store the other day with my youngest daughter. We walked through the middle aisle to get to the back of the store, and she saw the “Kool-aide Man” on the side of a pack of  ‘juice’ boxes. She stopped, pointed, and said, “mommy, why can’t I have purple juice boxes like my friend?”  I asked if she didn’t like the water bottle anymore. She said, “no, I like water, but I would like to have purple juice.”  “It is bad for your body, Kris” was my reply. “Where would you find purple in nature?”  She looked at me thoughtfully for a few seconds and said “Grapes?”  I agreed, then we read the side of the box together. “Did you hear mommy say grapes?” She said she did not, and asked me what HFCS is. I explained the best I could, but we agreed that those things we can barely pronounce are not things we want to put into our bodies. “That had lots of greedience, too mom. We only eat things with one or two greedience”. This satisfied her, and we moved on. My mind, of course had just begun racing. I asked her to show me what else her friends brought in their lunchboxes, and she was more than happy to lead me up and down the aisles pointing and explaining. My stomach started turning, my eyes welled up with tears.  As I was reading the boxes, I could totally see why parents would feed this stuff to their kids. It’s easy, cheap, and hey, it says “made with real fruit” or “lower sugar” or “”made with whole grain! Low fat! 10 essential vitamins and minerals!”  One example of this craptastic marketing is General Mills Fruit Rollups (TM). Check out the ingredients on these babies. More like “corn syrup food coloring chemical sh*tstorm Rollups”. UGH.

This set into motion my asking the kids to give me a full report of what their friends ate and drank day to day.  I gathered information from as many people as I could, then began doing nutrition information research. I also asked questions about their grades, relationships, skin, hair, and behavior.  The results are staggering. One mom, a patient of mine, said that she had “no idea that cereal was bad for you! I feed that to them for breakfast and snacks!”  She is diabetic. Her children are headed there too. It seems to be an endless cycle.

The RDA of Carbohydrates in one day for a child is <130 grams. Children should have less than 6 tsp of sugar (14-28 grams/day)

Here’s the typical day for a Standard American Diet eating child:

CHILD ONE:

Breakfast: Pop-tarts (Note: there are 2 in each package. Nutrition info is for 1.) Assuming this child only eats one, He’s already consumed 37 g of carbs (28% of the daily recommended)  and 15 grams of sugar (2.5 times his daily intake. at 7 am.), and only 2 grams of muscle-building protein.  His pancreas works hard to release enough insulin to get the glucose under control, and by 9 am, CRASH. He’s grouchy, shaky, hungry and ready for a snack. Good thing it’s snack time!

Snack: Granola Bars! Super healthy whole grain snack! 29 carbs, another 12 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. SWEET. Another round of insulin release, sugar high, and another crash…right at LUNCHTIME!

Lunch: Peanut butter and Jelly Sandwich, Apple, Fruit  Gushers, chips, and a Capri-Sun.   Assuming it’s whole wheat bread (That’s an argument for a later post), it totals approximately 122 g carbs, 63 g sugars, and 13 g protein. HOLY BLOOD SUGAR, BATMAN.  Have you been doing your arithmetic? So far, We’re at 188 g carbs, 90 g sugars, and a whopping 19 grams of protein. How many artificial colors and dyes were in those gushers? EEEEK. You could not pay me enough to be a teacher. It’s not the kid’s fault. He is just eating what is given to him, and reacting the way his body is telling him to based on crazy ups and downs and metabolic processes. The child doesn’t want to be a trouble maker, but he just cannot sit still. He’s pissy, but doesn’t know why. Another Crash.  Must be..

Afternoon Snacktime! : Goldfish crackers. Well, the good news is these are pretty low in sugar and have a moderate amount of protein.  They do, however, pack in the carbohydrates at 20 g, and are full of processed flours and commercial (read: inflammatory) oils. Holy moly, that’s a whole other blog. We haven’t even sniffed dinner, and we are over 200 g carbohydrate and 92 g sugar for the day.

Dinner time comes, and tonight they’re having Spaghetti, garlic bread, and a side salad. Woo hoo, a vegetable. Iceberg lettuce (zero nutritional value), cucumber (same), some carrots, and commercial salad dressing (we’ll go with Italian). 1 cup noodles, half cup Sauce, 2 tbsp dressing. Can of soda.. Carbohydrate count for dinner:  113grams. 54 g sugar, and 13 grams of protein. If there was meat added to the sauce, add in 20 grams of protein. At least we’re getting that in.  Assuming we don’t eat dessert, snacks, etc for the rest of the night, he has eaten 321 grams of carbohydrates (skyrocketing his blood sugar in huge waves), 146 grams of sugar. ONE HUNDRED FORTY SIX. I’ll wait while you scroll back to the top to remember how many a child is supposed to have. This is almost 25 times the amount this child was supposed to have for the day, the equivalent of 34 teaspoons of sugar.

The amount of sugar kids are getting every day. 34 teaspoons.

Too extreme?  I wish it were. This is data from personal sources. Let’s go with Example 2. Breakfast is a bowl of cereal (Honey nut gluten free Chex) with Lowfat milk and a glass of 100% orange juice. Hell, let’s go all kinds of health-nut crazy and say Soy milk. (For the record, Soy milk is HORRIBLE FOR YOU..but I digress…)  For snack, sally brings a Nutrigrain Bar. Lunch is a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat, strawberry yogurt, an apple, and a fruit rollup with organic chocolate milk. Afternoon snack is a cheese and peanut butter cracker packet and a 100% juice box. Dinner is Meatloaf, corn, mashed potatoes, a roll, and 2% milk. Total carbohydrates: 304.  Sugars: 132 Protein: 46.  Still no real vegetables, rarely any plain water, all processed food. Tons of peaks and valleys in the blood sugar/insulin department.

We’re not talking about kids getting fat, although childhood obesity is out of control. We are talking about kids getting a disease that used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes. Now, it’s “type 2″ because kids are being diagnosed younger and younger. According to the American Diabetes Association,” Type 2 diabetes has been described as a new epidemic in the American pediatric population that has been coincident with the overall 33% increase in diabetes incidence and prevalence seen during the past decade.” (http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/20/4/217.full)

The kids in these examples are the ones struggling with school work, emotional issues, skin problems, and some are on medications already to control their behavior or health. yikes.

I am not for one moment suggesting parents would intentionally harm their children for the sake of convenience. We have been beaten and badgered by ads, brightly colored packaging, and misinformation for years. Kids want things that look awesome  and that cartoon characters say is good for them. Once they are hooked on the sugar, it is a downward spiral. No parent wants to fight with their child at every meal and snack time. It’s not fun to be the bad guy. I’m telling you right now: they are worth it. They WILL be OK. In fact, they’ll be SO MUCH BETTER. Sugar overdose causes behavior issues, ADD/ADHD, tooth decay, insomnia, diabetes, and daytime sluggishness. There are studies that prove artificial colors can be a contributing factor to ADHD. Real, nutrient dense foods do not have these side effects.

“low fat! whole grain!” *facepalm*

Here’s what a Cavekid eats on the daily. I give them options, but all clean, healthy options.

Breakfast: Egg muffins, Bacon,  or coconut milk/spinach/banana smoothie

Breakfast!

Snack: Apple

Lunch: Turkey lunchmeat (Boar’s head or applegate with no fillers or nitrates) wrapped around a piece of cheese, organic baby carrots, celery with almond butter, and a fruit (usually grapes or banana). Sometimes Gluten free Kettle chips.

Snack: macadamias, almonds, seeds

Dinner: Seared pork, salad, sweet potato. or Meatballs over spaghetti squash.

Dessert: Not often. Sometimes a bowl of fruit, or some homemade cave-treat.

My kids drink water. all day. every day. I haven’t given them fruit juices or sodas, and they don’t ever ask.

Totals: 128-135 g carbs, 36-40 g sugar (all from whole fruits/veg), and 48-60 g protein. They also get adequate amounts of fat for brain growth as I cook in grassfed butter or organic coconut oil.

KaLynn loves her shrimp on the barbie!

I used to be the “healthy” example. EEEK! Now, I spend less, and definitely have less environmental impact by not buying all the packaging and processed nonsense. My kids VERY RARELY get sick.  It’s been over a year since we have purchased bread, milk, cereal, pasta or other packaged stuff, and I can tell you truly we don’t miss it.  If I can feed my family of 6 this way, so can you. I promise. It can be a tough transition, but if you stick to your guns, it becomes easier, almost second nature.  One awesome resource for this is Everyday Paleo.  Sarah is a mom who threw her whole family on the Paleo wagon and hasn’t looked back. There are so many other resources, too: Paleo Parents for advice on kids nutrition – their book, “Eat like a dinosaur” has saved my life many times. Fastpaleo. com and CivilizedCavemanCooking.com for some amazing and easy recipes, and even here, on this blog, you might just find something useful 🙂

Good luck, I’m here if you need me. ~Cavemomma

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31 thoughts on “Are we making our children sick and crazy?

  1. What blew my mind is there is hardly a difference in total carb and sugar count for the day when you compare the first example with the second “healthy” one! Processed food anyway you spin it still ends up as sugar overload.

    • Patti, while doing the research, I could NOT believe the second, “healthier” example was equally as bad. Makes my head spin, as I used to fall for that! I’ll be doing more extensive research in the future.

  2. I used to eat the “healthy” way in the second example. Myself and my kids (ages 4 and 2) suffered greatly from sugar highs and lows and especially mid afternoon crashes before switching to this method of eating in February of this year. Now we are on an even keel all day!

    I sure find it difficult to “sell” the idea of it to those who are following the contemporary wisdom way of eating. I find it so sad that the food guidelines and food pyramids are so misleading to the public!

  3. Man, I thought the 80s were bad for junk food, but now it seems like the healthy options are almost getting phased out in lieu of the crap from Kraft, Nestle and General Mills. I wonder if these companies have a higher profit margin on the highly processed foods…

    It is so worrisome, cause there is likely a social, group norm element to it as well. If all the kids are eating this stuff, then it becomes the norm.

    Thanks for blogging about this!

  4. My kid just asked if he could have a donut because his friend has one “like almost every day”. Donuts are bad for you, I said…”yeah, I know.” This is so true and I even used to be one of these parents feeding my kids junk and wondering if I should put them on ADHD meds. We get so far away from the big picture and from what food really is (thanks marketing) oh and its super cheap too.

  5. Great blog post. I will be sharing. I don’t have young children anymore, but my grandchildren can certainly benefit from your advice. I cried a little toward the end, because I am one of those people who let myself and my family be victimized by convenience foods and the associated advertising.

  6. Great blog post! My children are grown and on their own but my grandchildren can certainly benefit from this knowledge. Maybe my granddaughter can get her mom to read it. I cried a little toward the end because I was one of those people who were misled by convenience foods and their associated advertising when I was raising my family.

  7. Yes! Yes! Yes! Great post. I’m all for parental freedom in feeding their kids, but I think that the parents should also eat the exact same “food” in proportions equal to their child’s weight. For example, if their 50 lb. child eats one Pop Tart, and the parents weighs 150 lbs, they should then eat three Pop Tarts etc. Maybe after a day or two, they might get it. I’d love to see a toxin analysis of the two days of food. Primal/paleo is great, but organic primal/paleo is even better. In todays toxic world, our children need every nutrient that we can get for them. Teach your children how to hunt, gather, grow and process their own food.

  8. I am sharing this one EVERYWHERE I possibly can! I’ve blogged about this myself after I ate lunch in the cafeteria with my kids and saw the horrific stuff kids were eating for lunch. One boy’s mom was bringing McDonald’s for lunch most days, except for the days someone would leave a bag of THREE DUNKIN DONUTS at the office to be delivered to this kid for lunch – accompanied by a Sprite. And there was nothing to be done, no agency to report the outright malnutrition to, and so many kids in this school are off the wall and out of control, and so SO many of them are overweight or outright obese…. I’ve seen it as a substitute in classrooms from kindergarten through 5th grade, and I’ve come home and cried for them, and I’ve gotten angry for them, and now I write and educate as much as I possibly can – it’s all I can really do in my position at the school.

    So thank you for writing this, and I’m happy to pass it on to the parents on my Friends’ list, who can pass it along and pass it along and share the knowledge and understanding.

  9. This is great! I am really having trouble with my son, he is so picky, that trying to get him to eat anything healthy is horrible, he barley has an appitite as it is, he has often been underweight at doctors visits. I have no idea how to start this, so any advise or books, or articles that would help would be great! I often break when it comes to eating because I am so worried about him not gaining weight, that I just give in and let him eat what he wants, just so he can get food in him. He is not one of those kids that will eventually eat when he is hungry, he might eat a few bites of something you want him too when he is really hungry, but then he gives up, and would rather go hungry I guess. So anyway, any help would be great!

    • Linde, I don’t have any experience with super picky eaters. I have 2 that are pretty picky, but the rule in our house is, at least finish the meat and two bites of the veggies. No complaining. We just don’t allow it. I have only had one instance where a child refused to eat, and when he got hungry, he finally gave in.

  10. This is an amazing post! I will be sharing it on my FB as soon as I am done writing! I have been half-heartedly Paleo since last fall but have been resistant on changing the whole house as I have very picky eaters (3 boys, 12, 7, 5) and am not looking forward to the resistance (one especially is not a protein fan). However I have been feeling more convicted to make this transition this summer while they are all home. Thank you, this is helping to again see why I need to do this for my family!

  11. Loved this post! I find myself getting more angry (or sad maybe) in the grocery store and at the state of what our children are eating. My daughter is only 1.5 years old but I’m already scared for all the “normal” food she’ll see at school. I’ll be posting this in the next few days!

  12. Great article, thanks! Have shared it many times over, and will use parts of it in our school newsletter. Question though, so I can clarify for others that will read the newsletter: when you say the “RDA” is 14-28g who’s guidelines are you using and what age is this RDA for? I tried to research on my own, but I only come up with the Amer. Heart Assoc. guidelines which is less, at 3t/12g for young kids and 5 to 8teaspoons for preteens. And the USDA just says 6 to 10% of caloric intake… Just want to be able to clarify. Thanks!

  13. Curious if anyone who has switched over to a paleo diet has chuldren with food allergies, and how that has worked.

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