Did you know that sugar has the same addictive properties as tobacco and alcohol? The more sugar you eat, the more you need to satisfy your craving. The withdrawal, which includes symptoms of crankiness and lethargy, is often the hardest part. Unlike cigarettes, the warnings against the addictive powers of sugar are virtually non-existent. Sugar can be found in an alarming amount of foods, and half of it is hidden by calling it one of its 56 other sneaky names, it can be hard to determine exactly how much sugar is in any particular product.
We are facing the greatest public health crisis of our time and the future of our nation depends on all of us taking action in our homes, schools, communities and workplaces.
The FED UP Back to School Challenge is a national campaign to break loose from the sugar industry’s powerful grip – with a particular focus on kids and schools! We’re asking kids, schools, parents and communities to join us in going sugar free for 10 days. Giving up sugar will be tough because sugar is everywhere and we all crave it, but setting that kind of healthy example for your kids is all the inspiration you’ll need to get through. Below are the steps we will be taking, tips for success, and resources to help you bring the Back-to-School Fed Up Challenge to your community.
FOR SCHOOL CLASSROOMS/TEACHERS
Getting students interested and excited about healthy eating habits can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help students and teachers with The #FedUpChallenge
- Encourage kids to bring a reusable water bottle to school: Ask students to keep a reusable water bottle at their desk and encourage them to choose water over sugary drinks.
- Fill up on Fiber: Educate students on the importance of fiber to a whole and real food diet! Children (and adults) often don’t realize that processed foods take the fiber out and add the sugar in. Encourage them to opt for healthier fiber filled snacks like whole fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Many classrooms do not allow students to eat in the classroom. Make an exception for fruits and vegetables!
- Eat a Rainbow: Including as many naturally colorful food items into a meal or snack is a fun and creative way to get kids to eat real food! Make sure students know the difference between artificially colored foods and naturally colored foods.
- Start a School Garden: Grow herbs on the window sill. It’s really important for kids to see that food doesn’t come from a grocery store. A school garden is a great way to incorporate lessons in math, geography and teach kids where food comes from.
The Fed Up Challenge for Families
Courtesy of The Kids Cook Monday
Cooking meals at home is a great way to keep an eye on how much sugar your family is eating. Getting kids involved in grocery shopping and meal preparation helps them learn more about making healthy choices and will equip them with the skills they’ll need to continue to eat healthfully as adults. Here are some tips for participating in the challenge as a family:
- Declare your home a whine-free zone. Be clear that going fully sugar-free for 10 days is a short-term experiment to help your family learn more about sugar. Designate a chalkboard or large piece of poster board as the place to showcase all the healthy and delicious things you’re enjoying instead of sugar. Every time anyone complains, they have to add something new to the list!
- Take a family outing to the grocery store. Spend some time looking at the foods you usually buy and read their ingredients labels together. Do you see sugar or hidden sugars on those labels? Brainstorm the types of products you might buy instead. For example, instead of sweetened yogurt, give plain yogurt and fresh berries a try.
- Create a healthy snack box. Together, decide what your go-to healthy snacks will be, such as low-fat string cheese and fruit. Then, fill a box in the refrigerator with your new favorites and declare it the healthy-snacking zone. Take the opportunity to talk to your kids about the difference between snacking out of hunger versus snacking out of boredom.
- Commit to cooking together. Getting their hands dirty in the kitchen one of the best ways for kids to learn about making healthy choices. Commit to cooking together at least once a week and enjoying family meals together as often as possible by taking The Kids Cook Monday Family Dinner Pledge. By taking the pledge, you’ll sign up for The Kids Cook Monday newsletter, which delivers an easy, healthy recipe and other fun tools to help the whole family enjoy the cooking process every week.
- Celebrate with a healthy options. When you make it through the 10 days of the challenge, don’t celebrate with an all-out sugar fest. Instead, select a healthy no-sugar recipe, and cook it together. As a family, talk about how occasional treats like this can be part of your healthy diets.
- Keep the challenge going. To help your family keep their sugar habits in check long-term, consider making the challenge ongoing. Since Mondays are the days people are most open to making healthy changes, challenge your family to go sugar-free every Monday. At dinner that night, ask each family member what healthy foods they chose to eat instead and if the challenge helped them learn about any new products containing hidden sugars.
Question: How long will it take for me to feel a difference?
Answer: If you cut out all added sugars, you will start to feel better in 1-2 days. Cravings may persist for 1 to 3 weeks.
Question: Are all sugars bad?
Answer: Natural sugars in fruit are fine (but not fruit juice). Added sugars and artificial sweeteners are worse because they increase hunger. See the 56 hidden names for sugar. Stay away from all of them.
Question: How can I tell if a product has sugar in it?
Answer: Read all of the ingredients on the Nutritional Facts label and keep your eyes peeled for added sugars. Look for ingredients like: corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup and table sugar.
Question: Why is sugar added to food?
Answer: Sugar is added to food for one reason only. To make it taste better and make you eat more of it. It is addictive and when you consume too much you want more and which makes you buy more of the food industry’s products. Better for them. Bad for you.
Question: Should I go cold turkey?
Answer: The best way to cut your sugar cravings are to cut out all sugar at once. Otherwise you keep triggering the addiction center in the brain. This is easier said than done, so don’t give up if you slip up.
Question: How Much Sugar Can I Eat?
Answer: The American Heart Association recommends no more than the following amounts of sugar per day (note: that the Fed Up Challenge asks you to cut out all added sugars during the 10 days)