Do you know how much sugar your children consume on a daily basis? The answer may shock you, and you will want to start making sure your kids eat less sugar.
Surveys report that the sweet stuff makes up roughly 17 of what children consume each day. That’s a lot of sugar—and 50 percent of that comes from drinks with added sugar, according to research.
Toddlers are also having a lot of it—in fact, as much as seven teaspoons of sugar each day for toddlers aged 19 to 23 months in the U.S., according to findings by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2011-2014.
To put this in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that children consume less than three teaspoons—or 12 grams—of sugar per day.
Why is sugar bad?
Sugar is one of the single worst ingredients you can put into your body, and here’s why.
Excess intake is linked with dental caries, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Not only that, it can also impact the child’s food habits and preferences, likely setting them to unhealthy eating later in life, research reports.
Name a disease, and there is a strong chance that excessive sugar intake has something to do with it.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. With a few dietary changes, your kids can be encouraged to eat healthier and thus reduce sugar intake, which will set them on the path for healthier food choices into adulthood.
Here’s how to help your kids eat less sugar—without causing a rebellion.
Read Nutrition Labels
The ingredient lists on some of your children’s foods might sound like an alien language, but it’s critical to learn what words stands for added sugar. This will help you quickly realize how often sugar is added to foods, even to items that don’t even taste sweet, such as salad dressing, dried cranberries, ketchup, and baked beans.
Before you toss a product in your cart, scan the food label for the following:
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Corn sweetener
- Crystalline fructose
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Brown sugar
- Agave nectar
- Corn syrup
- Cane sugar
- Cane crystals
- Evaporated cane juice
- Invert sugar
As a rule, any food that packs in more than 22.5 grams—or five teaspoons –of total sugar per 100 is high in sugar, and items below 5 grams—roughly one teaspoon—are considered low in the sweet stuff.
Limit Sweetened Beverages
Over 40 percent of added sugar in your kid’s diets comes from sweetened drinks, contributing little to nothing in the way of nutrition. Not only that, research also shows that the average child in the US gets 120 calories a day from soda alone.
One can of soda contain more sugar than the daily recommended limit for the whole day, depending on the brand.
For these reasons, reducing—or downright boycotting— these sugary bombs will have a substantial impact on your kids’ diet.
Instead of gorging on loads of empty calories, give your kids lime water, fresh fruit juice, or unsweetened lemon tea.
Clean your House
Ever heard of the adage “out of sight, out of mind”?
It applies particularly well to sugar-rich bites such as cereals, crackers, and drinks too.
If your kitchen drawers and pantry is loaded with toaster pastries, mini muffins, doughnuts, chocolate chips, your kids are far more likely to ask for them—maybe eat them behind your back.
Stop buying packaged snack foods and bites to eat at your own house. Go through your pantry and make a clean sweep and restock with healthier alternatives.
Find healthy alternatives
Getting your kids to eat less sugar is not all about limiting food choices. It’s also about adding healthier options to the menu.
That’s why I’d recommend coming up with healthy and tasteful alternatives, rather than denying your kids a snack or a treat. Not only doing can it help tame your kid’s cravings, but it also helps them meet their daily nutrition needs.
Healthier alternatives include:
- Air-popped popcorn
- Whole-grain crackers
- Cut-up grapes and bananas
- cut-up veggies with guacamole
- Sliced apples
- cheese sticks
- Pears with peanut butter
- low-sugar dressing for dipping
Lead by Example
To properly teach your kids how to curb their sugar intake, you have to be the role-model. What you do, both consciously and unconsciously, affects their behavior and their day to day choices.
If you want your kids to exercise more, then exercise more.
If you want them to eat more fruits, then eat more fruit.
When you lead by example and hold the pedal to the metal when it comes to eating healthier, you can help your kids maintain a healthy weight and normal growth.
Here are a few healthy eating habits to cultivate in yourself:
- Portion control
- Eating mindfully
- Eating slowly
- Eating in moderation
- Reading food labels
- Eating more veggies
- Drinking more water
Don’t have hidden compartments, too. Your kids can tell.
Sugar is not inherently bad in itself. However, consuming a natural source of sugar, let’s say from fruits, is better for health than gorging empty sugar calories from a drink. And the above dietary guidelines are all you need to get your kids to eat less sugar.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
Keep eating healthy.