Although treats and indulgence are part of what makes life fun, children are more than ever before, consuming more sugar each day. Not only does this negatively impact their mood and compromise their attention, but it also affects their physical health.
The American Heart Association, an effort to cut down on sugar consumption, recommends that children should not eat more than 12 grams or 3 teaspoons or sugar each day.
Equally, the World Health Organization suggest that people eat less than 5% of their daily calories from sugar each day.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the five categories from which children receive an excess of sugar each day includes;
- Non-juice drink, eg energy drink, soda etc.
- Fruit drinks
- Grain-based sweet oak cookies, snack cakes etc
- Dairy desserts eg puddings
If we were to adopt more of whole foods and lesser of processed foods, then most of the diet-related diseases and conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes could be reduced or eliminated.
To order a healthy lifestyle and to prevent these diseases, parents need practical steps towards cutting down on the sugar intake or their children. Below are eight of such steps;
1. Eliminate or reduce to the minimum sugary drinks:
Sugary drinks include lemonade, soda, energy/sports drinks and even 100% fruit juice. It is not unusual for manufacturers of 100% fruit juice to add sugar to it.
And even if sugar is not added, the process of extraction of the juice eliminates the fiber containing the fruit.
The implication of this is that the children do not feel full after drinking, thereby causing them to overindulge in it.
As an alternative, give your children more of water and milk. And instead of fruit juice, they can consume the whole fruit instead.
2. Serve more vegetables and fruits:
It is recommended that both children and adult consume between 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, including fruits and vegetables include carrots, apple, pepper and banana.
Whole fruit and vegetable containment and water, thereby helping the child to feel full.
3. Eliminate sugary rewards or punishments:
It is not uncommon for them to offer children candy for good reward or threaten to take away dessert as punishment for wrong behavior.
The implication of this is that it creates a sense that sugar is something that is to be desired. This would eventually link their future eating habits with unhealthy choices.
4. Cook more at home:
This is a tough one but the advantages are enormous. Cooking at home gives you tremendous control over what your children eat. It is common for restaurants to add to their foods as to enhance its taste.
5. Choose savory during snack time rather than sweet:
Rather than opting for sweets or carb-heavy treats such as crackers, popcorn, and cookies, which typically digest quickly, you can choose which option is not only healthier but more satisfying. Your aim must be to fill their bellies enough to hold them to the next meal. Some healthy snack-time option includes;
– Full-fat cheese
6. Pack your snack ahead of time:
When you are out with your children it is quite tempting to grab a snack from the vending machine or snack counter. The best solution to this is to plan and pack ahead of time.
This way, you have everything you need and your chances of reaching out to unhealthy snacks are cut down immensely.
7. Look for condiments and sauces with minimal sugar:
Several of the popular sauce and condiments contain a significant amount of sweetener. Before you buy one make sure you read the list of ingredients and avoid products that have evaporated cane juice, juice concentrate or brown rice syrup as some of its first products.
8. Make homemade sweets:
If your kids have to take sweets, then you can make yours from your home. This way, you would be able to regulate the amount of sugar that is present and ensure that you are not exposing your child to more than good.