Sweets are one of the hardest things to stay away from. Adults and children are both tempted by them. Having the craving though for sugar is not always just a want, but sometimes something your body is telling you that you are missing in your diet. Your child’s craving for sweets may not just be an unhealthy habit, but their body telling them they need something else.
It is important to be mindful of how you treat sugar and sweet treats in your home, how available you make them to your children may influence how much they eat.
Why Children Crave Sugar
The Brain Gut Connection
Sugar not only tastes good, but makes the body feel good. So when your child eats a sugary dessert or snack their brains are going to notice how it makes them feel causing them to want more. It is important to help your children know that more isn’t always better. But completely eliminating sugar or making it seem forbidden to your child may make them crave it even more. Children may have a preference for sugar because their body is signaling sugar is what they need. Something sweet and calorically dense during their rapid growth spurts.
There are some vitamin deficiencies that can cause your child to crave sugar. Vitamin D deficiency is very common, especially in months where the sun isn’t out as much, or the weather is too cold and your child isn’t going outside as often. The good news is there are supplements that your child can take to help boost their vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D deficiency may have no symptoms, but in some people it can cause fatigue, tiredness, bone pain, depression, being sick often, and craving sugary foods.
Treatment for a vitamin D deficiency is either taking a supplement, or adding foods that are high in vitamin D such as milk, cereal, orange juice, salmon, tuna and egg yolks.
It is important to check your vitamin D levels so you can take the appropriate dosage so that you don’t end up taking too much in supplement form.
Another deficiency that can cause sugar cravings is magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is important for muscle and nerve function as well as energy production in the body.
If you are showing signs of irritability or anxiousness along with sugar cravings you may have low magnesium levels. Other signs are muscle twitches, fatigue, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
Adding in some nuts, seeds, kale, and spirulina into your child’s diet can help boost their magnesium levels.
Potassium deficiency can also cause sugar cravings. Potassium is important to help your body lower blood pressure, and can help protect against strokes, and kidney stones.
Low potassium can also cause sugar cravings, fatigue, muscle cramps, and digestive issues. Adding in bananas, leafy greens, and spirulina can help your child meet their daily requirement of potassium.
ADHD & Sugar
Low dopamine levels are common in children with ADHD. Low levels of dopamine have also shown to cause cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. This is because sugar and carbohydrates boost your dopamine levels.
Lack of Sleep
Another cause of sugar cravings is lack of good sleep. When the body doesn’t get enough sleep the appetite regulating hormones become out of whack, not only that but the body starts looking for something that is high in calories and will boost energy quickly. Sugary treats do both of these things.
Children Like Sugar
Children just like sugary foods. In one study it showed that children could withstand almost two times the amount of sugar added into a glass of water than adults.
Sugar though is empty calories, and can cause trouble with tooth decay.
Tips For Dealing With Your Child’s Sugar Cravings
Talking with your child about their sugar intake needs to be done delicately. You don’t want to cause your child to have a bad relationship with food. Making foods restricted or forbidden can cause your child to crave them more or to start sneaking food.
Teaching moderation is a good start. A little dessert can be good for your child, as well as teach them that things are good in small portions.
If your child suffers from low dopamine levels, encourage activities that boost dopamine levels naturally. This could be participating in fun activities, or spending time with friends.
Have a plan for how sugary treats will be handled in your house, and make sure everyone knows the rules. If they are allowed one treat after dinner, hold to that rule yourself, modeling good healthy eating can do wonders for your child as well.
Making sure your child is getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals they need to grow healthy is also important, along with making sure they are getting enough sleep, and exercise.
A child craving sugar could be a sign of a vitamin deficiency or ADHD! #HealthSurgeon
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