Understanding the Impact of Sugar on Our Kids & Our Health – Podcast Ep 136
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Understanding the Impact of Sugar on Our Kids & Our Health – Podcast Ep 136

In this episode, we're chatting with Dr. Nicole Avena about the impact of sugar, sugar cravings, and the effect sugar has on our health and the health of our kids.

Published April 16, 2024

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Are you someone who has a sweet tooth? Do you get cravings for something sweet throughout the day or in the evening before bedtime? If so, I can completely relate. I get sugar cravings, and when they hit, the cravings are strong. And this happens to kids, too! As parents, we sometimes use sweets to show love, appreciation, and sometimes even bribery. I know I have. These cravings can start young. Sugar is also hidden in our foods, and it doesn’t have to be advertised or regulated. It’s a major part of our culture’s diet, but do we really understand the impact of sugar on our health and our kids’ health? I’m not sure. That’s why I’m talking to scientist and mother, Dr. Nicole Avena, to understand the science and learn what we can do.

Who is Dr. Nicole Avena?

Dr. Nicole Avena headshot

Dr. Nicole Avena is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and a Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University. She is quite impressive! Dr. Avena is also a public speaker and the author of several popular books like “What to Eat When You’re Pregnant,” “Why Diets Fail,” “Hedonic Eating,” and her latest book, “Sugarless,” which covers the latest science on sugar addiction and how to overcome it. She has done groundbreaking work developing models to characterize food addiction and the dangers of excess sugar intake. She is the perfect person to chat with about understanding the impact of sugar on our kids’ and our health.

What Did We Discuss?

In this episode, we’re chatting with Dr. Avena about the impact of sugar and the effect that it has on the health of our families. We all know that the majority of kids (and adults) love sugar. So, we’re gonna “chick chat” about some actionable steps to help reduce sugar impact and why this is so important for us to do so. Here are several of the questions that we covered in our conversation:

  • What led you to research the impact of sugar on our health?
  • Tell us more about what you have learned about the effects of sugar on our physical and mental health.
  • Can you elaborate more on the evidence that sugar is addictive?
  • Often, we are unaware of how much sugar is in the food we eat. How can we become more aware of what we are putting into our bodies and the bodies of our children?
  • I think we are all familiar with “sugar cravings.” How can we cope with these cravings?
  • What about artificial sweeteners? What should we be aware of when consuming this type of product?
  • What are some ways families can begin to remove excess sugar from their diets?
  • Can you tell us some of the long-term risks of consuming a diet with too much sugar?
  • What are some of your favorite sugar-free recipes and snacks?
  • What resources do you recommend for parents who want to learn more about the dangers of sugar and how to lessen their intake?

It was an eye-opening conversation that I think everyone can benefit from and should listen to. Our diets are incredibly important, and because we are the gatekeepers of the kitchen for our kids, these details we discuss are imperative for parents to know. We are building our children’s future health now. Tune in to learn all about it and the impact of sugar on our kids and our health!

Mentioned in the Episode

Sugarless book

Dr. Avena mentioned her Unbelievable Ice Cream Sundae recipe in her book, Sugarless (pg 264). It sounds delicious. It’s basically all of the joys of your favorite ice cream sundae but without the sugar. Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

  • 2 large bananas, peeled, sliced, and frozen
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened raw cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened creamy peanut butter
  • Optional toppings: crushed banana chips, crushed walnuts, cacao nibs, fresh berries

Directions

  • Put the frozen banana in a food processor and process on high until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides and adding 1 tablespoon of water as needed.
  • Add the vanilla and process until combined.
  • Transfer the banana ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour before serving.
  • While the ice cream is setting in the freezer, open the chilled can of coconut milk and scoop the solid white portion into a large bowl. If you like, you can save the watery liquid in the can for another use.
  • Using a handled mixer, beat the coconut cream until fluffy. (30 to 60 seconds)
  • Refrigerate the whipped cream until you’re ready to assemble the sundaes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cacao powder and melted coconut oil until smooth. Set the chocolate sauce aside at room temperature until ready to serve (do not chill, or the coconut oil will harden).
  • In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, adding the water 1 tablespoon at a time until you get a smooth consistency. Set the peanut butter sauce aside at room temperature until ready to serve.
  • To serve, divide the banana ice cream between two sundae dishes.
  • Top each with a large dollop of the whipped cream, a drizzle of the chocolate sauce, and another of the peanut butter sauce. Then, finish with your desired toppings.
  • Store leftover ice cream in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 1 month. The whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and peanut butter sauce don’t store well, so use them right away and remake them as needed for serving.

Dr. Avena’s Resources

Thank you for listening to this episode! Follow us on our podcast Instagram page @thebabychickchat, and let us know what you think and if there are any other topics you’d like us to cover. Cheers to better health and less sugar!

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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