My kids have been eating a whole foods based diet at home most of the time for their whole lives because I believe that is what is best for them. We have really tried to limit junk food all around, but as they have gotten older they are exposed to junk food (sugar, highly processed doritos, HFCS drinks, etc) more and more, at school, parties, grandparents house, etc. I have tried to limit it and encouraged them to make good decisions about moderation but can no longer micromanage their diets.
Unfortunately, now my 8 year old is so excited when she has the opportunity to eat huge cupcakes with massive amounts of frosting and HFCS popsicles and other things and unfortunately it has become clear to me that when she engorges on this stuff she ends up with some degree of a migraine, a condition she has developed over the past few years and in large part can be traced to eating sugar (in her case.)
She is upset because she feels like everyone else can eat junk food all day and has no apparent consequences and it has started me wondering if her body is unable to deal with junk food because she wasn't exposed to it at a young age. Or maybe she's just sensitive to junk food and I have been protecting her from it all of this time, but both my husband and I ate lots of junk food growing up and never had issues.
So, I am wondering, did I create this problem by not letting her eat junk? Should I chill on the junk food with my younger kids so maybe they will process it better when they are older? Or is every kid really negatively affected by it and I just don't see it?
Would love to hear if there are other people who have avoided junk food with their kids and had a similar consequence?
Good for you for giving your kids a great start with a healthy, balanced diet. I was a total granola head and used to sneak wheat germ and molasses into lots of things, and my kids love a great variety of foods. Yours will probably make good choices as adults, but are in that transition time of experimenting and blending in with their peers. I would think that these episodes of eating junk food and getting ill will serve as good reminders...learning what their bodies will tolerate.
Since we're all unique, it's hard to know if your daughter has greater sensitivities to certain foods or just ate too much at once. Haven't we all learned that lesson a time or two? Maybe she could try having smaller portions of treats and see if she gets a migraine. If her reactions continue to be severe, you may want to talk to your pediatrician. From what you shared, sugar is the main culprit, right?
Thanks for the reply. I like the idea of thinking of this being a transition period and that she will make better choices when she is a grown up! Yes, sugar is the main culprit, but exhaustion and stress contribute too. She is a super sensitive kid in a lot of ways, so maybe she would have been like this no matter what.
Any one else have an opinion or experience on delayed sugar exposure and subsequent sensitivity?
I have no idea what the research says, but I highly doubt it has to do with lack of exposure. Although this frustrates your daughter, you can be grateful her body is naturally communicating with her and preventing her from overloading on crap food. She may hate it now, but she will probably be grateful later when she realizes how lucky she was to grow up eating well and that it's a good thing when our body immediately rejects junk food. It's saving her from the whole line of more serious diseases and symptoms that can happen later in life if we've been eating junk food for decades.
I wish my son got strong reactions to sugar. That may sound wicked to say.....but he cannot possibly comprehend why I don't want him eating so much of it and it would be so much easier for me to just say: look what happens to you when you eat it. Case closed. Be grateful her body's reactions are making your food choices easier for her to follow
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
So many kids are different. I know kids who need to limit their dried fruit intake.
My nephew had trouble with sugar and white bread. Turns out he is hypoglycemic and as he got older he was able to connect sugar binge to sickness and headaches, and also to monitor food intake in general and not let himself get too hungry.
It was an adjustment to be sure. It's not much different than having a kid with allergies. It's hard to convince them that they are not alone, so I don't try too much. But you can help them troubleshoot what they eat in a way that helps them make decisions for themselves rather than disallowing it. That isn't always well-received either, but it sinks in eventually. As long as they aren't "throwing their grumps around" as I call it, they can make those connections for themselves.
ETA: I think 8yo is a good general age to give them a great deal of autonomy. Some could handle it before hand, but I think in my girls there has been a distinct improvement in self-assessment of body signals around that age, and it improves rapidly.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
When something is a normal part of your diet, you don't notice what it's doing to you. Most people have sugar every day, so if they get a headache every day- they assume they just have headaches, not that sugar is causing it. Most kids are introduced to sugar before they can say what they're feeling, which makes it harder to recognize patterns. Plenty of parents give birthday cake on the first birthday made with sugar and HFCS. It's hard to tell that a 1 year old is responding badly to sugar when it could be growing pains or teething problems just as readily, so parents keep giving their toddler sugar, keep giving them "healthy" food with sugar dumped in it that's "kid friendly", and so the kid grows up thinking that how they feel is normal. Google and read the story by the family that went without sugar for a year and how it effected the author when she reintroduced it- again, she assumed she was fine, she was someone your daughter would look at and complain "SHE can eat it!", but it turns out it was having a very negative effect on her.
I was practically addicted to soda, but since cutting out caffeine I now realize (when I do have it) that it causes fatigue and makes me sick- two things I constantly lived with. I still crave gluten, even though it causes my fibro to flare up like mad. It's truly amazing to me that I manged to get used to how bad my fibro was- I just accepted constant fatigue, constant pain, having days when I needed to use a cane. I still can't cut out sugar, but I know I need to. If you'd talked to me a year ago, you would have assumed I was one of the people who could eat junk food all day and be "fine", but I was not fine and it turns out to be entirely dietary.
Yes, some people can tolerate sugar just fine. But clearly, your kid can't, and that's not caused by not being exposed to it. Introducing it early only would have made it harder to recognize what was causing the problem.
Your daughter has no way of knowing how healthy she'd be if you just let her eat junk food all the time. But, frankly, if you'd let her- neither of you would have any idea how healthy she wasn't.
I feel more secure in my nutritional decisions after the feedback. I really like to think that this sensitivity to sugar is a sort of self-protective mechanism and not something I
And, one_girl, thanks for the protein tip. I have been increasing my daughter's protein intake before heading out to birthday parties and such and it actually seems to be helping a little bit! She has still had little headaches after sugar but she hasn't had a full on migraine since I've paid closer attention to her protein consumption.
I sure wish our culture didn't feel the need to have so much junk food and sugary treats for kids every where!
Still interested in more insight if anyone has some.
For sugar "holidays" like birthdays and Christmas we served a lavish protein-rich meal followed by a dessert of a light fruit salad, petite creme brulee, or presentation amounting to 2 chocolates per person. One of the strongest "advocates" in your favor is "quality over quantity," where children can learn quickly by watching adults that gorging and large dessert portions are unsophisticated and gluttonous.
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