Ensuring your child’s blood sugar levels are on an even keel, says Gill Paizes, means you could be well on your way to keeping them emotionally, mentally and physically well.

First break is over and the children return to their classrooms. With sweat pouring down their ruddy faces, the boys slump behind their desks. Thirty minutes later, some eyes have glazed over, others complain of headaches or stomach aches and others are struggling to keep the concentration going. This is not an uncommon scenario in primary school classrooms. Teachers for years have complained about the lack of productivity and concentration after break time. This is not surprising considering the fact that our lifestyles generally don’t promote health.

A balancing act and wellbeing. Instant cereals or no breakfast at all, combined with, non-nutritious school lunches and nutritionally compromised foods from the tuckshop contribute to the yo-yo syndrome of sugar levels that throw our children’s emotional, mental and physical wellbeing into chaos. It is time we as parents start taking responsibility for our children’s health and paying heed to providing the best nutritional environment we can to help in balancing their blood sugar levels. Initially, emotional and/or physical signs present as hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which at a later stage can lead to insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome and eventually adult onset, Type 2 diabetes.

What are blood sugar levels?

The blood sugar level refers to the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose, broken down from all our foods, is a type of sugar, the main source of energy for the body and brain. Normally our blood sugar levels rise slightly after eating and the pancreas produces insulin and other hormones to control these levels. Insulin production is directly related to the carb load of the meal and the size of the meal. You want to ensure your children’s blood sugar is balanced to maintain their energy levels and weight. Refined, processed carbs put huge strain on their systems – they are quickly absorbed, causing a rapid hike in blood sugar levels and so the organs work extra hard to balance the sugar levels. However, by eating unrefined, complex carbs, which take 4-10 hours to digest, your child will receive a constant flow of glucose to the bloodstream that will sustain them.