Ask The Doctor:
Holiday Eating & Wellness...
Overreacting? I'm not exactly sure what you're concerned about, but let me guess. Some parents feel that overeating sweets effects their child's behavior and causes hyper-excitability, irritability and disrupted sleep. This effect is quite variable among observers (mostly parents) and hasn't been reproducible when studies are conducted scientifically. High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn and is commonly used in processed foods and drinks. It is sweeter and cheaper than sucrose (table sugar) which is made from sugar cane. Corn syrup contains about 57% fructose and 43% glucose, where table sugar contains 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Digestion quickly breaks down both sugars. Some have proposed that people metabolize high fructose corn syrup in a way that raises the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. There is scant evidence to support either of these ideas. To summarize, sugar is sugar, and too much sugar means too many calories that can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. Now about artificial dyes, or food coloring. Some of these additives have been suspected of causing increased hyperactivity in children. In 2007, a British study concluded that consuming artificial coloring and preservatives in food can increase hyperactivity in kids. Scientists, however have been studying the link between food additives and hyperactivity in children for more than 30 years, with at best, mixed results.
In regard to the holidays, your family should practice good nutrition all year long! But during this time of year make an extra effort to eat healthy at home and while out shopping. Substitute water for juice, sweet tea and soda. Increase the kids' level of activity (and yes, yours too) by raking leaves, jog or walk with them, ride bikes, just take them outdoors more. Don't obsess about every morsel they put in their mouths. It's all about balance and moderation. Enjoy the holidays, and your kids!