It’s quite confronting to realise how easy it is to load your child up on what you may perceive as ‘healthy’ foods. A little sugar here and there in our child’s diet isn’t going to rock the boat too much, as long as a ‘little’ doesn’t escalate to ‘normal’ or ‘everyday’.
This time of year it’s especially important to take extra care of our kids nutrition. It’s nearing the cold and flu season and there’s a lot riding on their immune systems to be strong and combat the love that’s shared at school. Sugar has an immune suppressing effect, as it competes for space in our white blood cells with vitamin C (which we need to fight bacteria and viruses) . The more sugar our kids eat the less vitamin C their cells store, thus a weakened immune system.
Unfortunately there is no governing body to regulate what’s sold at supermarkets in regards to sugar content in foods marketed towards kids, so you can kind of get caught up thinking everything is dandy….and believe what’s written on the front of boxes.
There really is no reason to ADD sugar to foods whether you’re an adult or child so cutting out any type of added sugar is a start. Keeping things at 25 grams of sugar per day is the goal. A small amount of honey to sweeten up an oatmeal or serve on toast (or try half honey and half rice malt syrup in your jar) is OK in my eyes and is something I went into a little more detail in a previous post (Is honey really the villain?)
So to make things easier here are some tacts to help you stay on top of your child’s sugar intake.
6 Ways To Help Beat Your Kids Sugar Demons
1.Differentiate between sweet and sweet
If your child is turning their head up to savoury snacks and you get a feeling they are after something sweet, offer fruit. We’re spoilt with great choices of fresh or frozen fruits so get creative and purée some up and make ice blocks or fruit kababs. Also try to be aware of the difference between your child being truly hungry or wanting something to eat due to boredom or emotional issues. Offering a snack that offers protein and healthful fats will be beneficial in maintaining their energy levels.
2. Learn to read food labels
This is where it all begins..in the supermarket. If you can’t and don’t know how to read food labels then you are relying on the marketing geniuses to make you believe anything! I wrote a post on how to read food labels and what to look for when choosing products. Start here and give yourself back the power at the supermarket.
3. Make your own
If you make your own snacks and bakes then you can control the amount of sugar and know exactly how much there is. Most mass-produced food items are targeted towards the greater public…and they like sweet. You really do have to get away from these products and retrain your kids taste buds tolerance levels. To know what is healthy and just what is a ridiculous amount of sugar in something is a satisfying feeling. Check out my recipe index for low sugar meal and snack ideas
4. Cull the desserts
There is no reason for desserts being offered each night and it just teaches your kids not to fill up on their main meal so they have room for ‘something better’. If your child is genuinely still hungry after a big day playing sport etc then offer some oatmeal, fruit or natural yoghurt for dessert. If they turn their noses up to this then it’s usually a good indication of their true hunger levels!
There is no reason to have juice or soft drink in the house. I do keep a few poppers in the cupboard as a treat for my eldest now and then when she has been busy with sport but apart from that these shouldn’t form any part of your child’s everyday diet. There are natural cordials now with stevia instead of sugar which are a great alternative at parties.
6. It is hidden everywhere
In sauces, breads, jams, peanut butter, kids chewy vitamins, biscuits, muesli bars, cereals, dessert yoghurts, the list goes on. Most foods these days have added sugar in some form so another reason it’s important to read food labels.
As parents we really need to feel a responsibility and take it upon ourselves to research and know what is best…and it will set your child up for the rest of their life.