The food your child eats has everything to do with how much energy they have or don’t have. Sometimes they can be lethargic and sluggish, wanting to spend hours in front of the TV. At other times they might be bouncing off the walls long into the evening; you hope that they’ll wear themselves out, but they’re still tearing about pretending to be super heroes long after your bedtime. Parents are either exhausted or worried about what is causing the sudden changes in their children’s energy levels.
Sugar Rush: Myth or Truth?
Some have doubted whether hyperactivity is caused by sugar or just down to over excitement. Experts at Harvard medical school say that a sugar rush occurs when children ingest food with a high-glycemic index – that cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall quickly- meaning they’re tearing around one minute and then slumped the next. The glycemic index is also related to diabetes, which affects how much insulin the body produces. Snack food is the biggest culprit in causing that sugar rush, but for many families they are also the most easily available foods. By learning a few ‘snack tricks’, you can learn how to avoid sugar traps that potentially cause bouts of high and low energy in kids.
Snacks that cause that energy rush – energy slump
- Jelly beans
- Many soft drinks such as concentrated fruit juice
- Saltine Crackers
- White bread
Whole fruit and whole grains generally have a low glycemic index, and help the body release insulin to control the release of sugar.
Healthy Snacks that help sustain energy levels
- Peaches, apples, oranges (a cup of fruit and some plain yoghurt will keep them going)
- Whole grain crackers
- Unbuttered, plain popcorn
- Low fat cottage cheese and pineapple
- 1 tbsp peanut butter and celery sticks
Even if there is still doubt over whether sugar is the real cause of hyperactivity, limiting sugar in your child’s diet is still a sensible health choice as you are supporting a healthy relationship with the food they eat by reducing sugar cravings.
Maintaining normal energy levels can also affect your child’s performance in school, helping them to focus and concentrate and take part in sports and physical activity. A decent, nutritious breakfast will set them up for the day, giving them the energy and motivation they need for learning -right up until lunch time.
What Are High Glycemic Carbohydrates? Livestrong.com
Smart Snacking Tips for Children mealsmatter.org