A child’s body gets all the sugar it needs from that naturally occurring in food. Added sugar just means a lot of empty calories that contribute to hyperactivity, mood disorders, and increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even suicidal behaviors in teenagers.
How to cut down sugar?
The American Heart Association recommends that sugar intake for children is limited to 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day. A 12-ounce soda contains up to 10 teaspoons or 40g of added sugar, shakes and sweetened coffee drinks even more. Large amounts of added sugar can also be hidden in foods such as bread, canned soups and vegetables, frozen dinners, and fast food. In fact, about 75% of packaged food in the U.S. contains added sugar.
- Don’t ban sweets entirely. Having a no sweets rule is an invitation for cravings and overindulging when given the chance.
- Give recipes a makeover. Many recipes taste just as good with less sugar.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Instead, try adding a splash of fruit juice to sparkling water or blending whole milk with a banana or berries for a delicious smoothie.
- Don’t replace healthy sources of saturated fat with refined carbs or sugary snacks. It’s a mistake many of us make. Instead of letting our kids eat whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we offer them low-fat versions, not realizing they’re often packed with added sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap breakfast eggs for a pastry or muffin.
- Create your own popsicles and frozen treats. Freeze 100% fruit juice in an ice-cube tray with plastic spoons as popsicle handles. Or make frozen fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.