There are definite dangers of eating sugar.
Some people may think that statement extreme, but it’s true. Kids are drawn to sugar like bees to honey. It can be a daunting challenge to keep the menacing sweet white avalanche at bay, but it’s a battle well worth fighting. According to a study by the USDA, people who eat diets high in added sugars get less calcium, fiber, folate, vitamins (A, C, and E), zinc, magnesium, iron, and other nutrients than people whose diets contain less added sugar. They also consume fewer fruits and vegetables. Sugary foods not only displace more nutritious foods in a child’s diet, but their excessive sweetness make it difficult for kids to then enjoy the natural flavors of healthier offerings.
Here are some practical tips to reduce the sugar in your family’s diet:
•Avoid foods made in a factory whenever possible.
Eat foods as closely as they occur in nature. For snacks, be prepared with fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains instead of packaged food.
•Make water your family’s main beverage.
Only allow sodas and sugary drinks on special occasions or parties, but not as a daily menu item. When eating out, give your child a choice between soda or dessert — but not both. Keep in mind that a 12 oz. soda typically packs a whopping 40 grams of sugar. Few of us can afford these additional calories, even children.
•Serve unsweetened or cereals low in sugar (4 or 5 grams per serving) and add fruit.
Some popular cereals contain as much as 15 grams of sugar in just one serving! While your child might get an irresistible bobble head movie character in the enticing box, he or she ingests the equivalent of nearly 4 sugar packets. In contrast, plain oatmeal has 1 gram of naturally occurring sugar. Offer sliced bananas, raisins, or fresh blueberries to sweeten.
•Limit desserts to one per day.
If your child is too young to know about dessert, skip it altogether.
•Reduce sugar in recipes.
Sugar can often be reduced by half in most cookie recipes.
Packaged Foods & Sugar
Some common added sugars are corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, glucose, honey invert sugar, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose and syrup. The only way to detect added sugar is to read the ingredient list. Click here for a list of tricky names manufacturers use to hide sugar in your food.
When fruit is an ingredient, it’s impossible to know how much of the sugar comes from the fruit and how much is added. The 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest no more than 8 teaspoons of “added sugars” a day based on a 2,000-calorie diet. This is equivalent to 32 grams of sugar, less than what is found in most 12 ounce sodas.
Become a label detective and teach your children to be the same. Read every label for sugar content before you make a purchase, and choose wisely.