Children Should Have Limited Sugar Daily
As sugar consumption has risen, obesity and diabetes rates have skyrocketed worldwide. People following the standard american diet (SAD) eat an average of 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 3 teaspoons daily (1 teaspoon = 4g sugar) for children 4-8 years of age. Children under the age of two should not have any sugar. The evidence clearly indicates that dietary trends go hand in hand with the current epidemics of obesity and chronic disease.
How do you accomplish this?
Parents have an important job, they should provide a healthy lifestyle, so that they grow up to be healthy adults. It is so important to get into healthy eating habits early. When your child is under the age of two, stick to breast milk/formula and veggies mainly. As they grow use the sugars daily in healthy snacks like fruit, keeping the fruit low in sugar. The lowest in sugar fruits are berries, and you want to avoid high sugar foods like bananas and melons. Experts conducted a comprehensive review of the scientific research on the effect of added sugars on children’s health, the panel concluded the following statement:
“There has been a lack of clarity and consensus regarding how much added sugar is considered safe for children, so sugars remain a commonly added ingredient in foods and drinks, and overall consumption by children remains high – they typical American child consumes about triple the recommended amount of added sugars.”
If your child is consuming a well-balanced diet through whole foods and maintaining a healthy body weight, there isn’t much room for empty calories from junk foods, which is where most added sugars are found.
Don’t know where to start? Here are 5 ways to reduce sugar in your child’s diet:
Sodas and Juices: While 100% fruit juice does contain some vitamins, the fiber has been stripped out and contains much higher ratio of sugar to vitamins. It is best to stick to water when children are young, avoiding bad habits later on.
Breakfast Cereals: one of the easiest breakfasts to throw together, but watch the sugar content in those boxes. I tend to send parents to a more protein rich breakfast (eggs and turkey bacon/sausage) to ensure better attention and focus at school.
Yogurts: yogurt is marketed as a healthy snack, however, most are junk. Stay away from kids brands as they are loaded with sugar, if you can get them to eat coconut yogurt, non flavored and add berries this is the best alternative.
Ice Cream: nothing is wrong with a little treat now and then, but reduce intake if your kids eat ice cream more often than you think is healthy. I stray from cow milk and opt for coconut milk ice-cream instead.
Talk about food: we know sugar is bad, but kids don’t understand the reason why. They don’t understand why we should be eating certain foods more than others. This is why it’s important for us to openly talk about food and why we eat what we eat. Avoid using negative terms such as “that will make you fat” and highlight the positives such as “this will help your bones grow strong” Positive reinforcement!