Inside: Not able to control the sugar cravings of your child? Learn why it’s bad for them at this early stage and how you can avoid them in their diet.
It is summer holidays, you are trying to figure out a way to handle kids and finally decide to stock up snacks, candies and sugar goods. Accidentally going through the label makes you realize how much sugar it all contains.
Pretty much sums up why you found this article your way, right?
In today’s world, it’s hard to find food items that don’t have mixed or hidden sugar ingredients in them. Unfortunately, these packed and ready made goods are the items that make our motherhood easier and convenient by saving our time.
But it takes time to observe the long term damages the sugar in them is causing. Statistics by American Diabetes Association shows that 210,000 of Americans who are under the age of 20 are diagnosed with Diabetes every year.
Isn’t this shocking? Good thing is, you have realized the mistake and are willing to work on it. As per USDA, children’s sugar intake should be less than 10%. But how? We will get to that.
Allowed Amount Of Sugar Based On Age
|Age group||Permitted sugar levels as per NHS per day|
|Infants and Toddlers||Sugar is not at all recommended|
|4 to 6 years old||19gms of sugar|
|7 to 10 years old||24gms of sugar|
|Adults||30gms of sugar|
Food Items That Are High In Sugars
Following are the universally consumed products that have high sugar content. You should totally avoid this for your children and try to find better alternatives.
- Store bought chocolates, candies, cookies
- Beverages, soda, canned fruit juices, energy drinks
- Bakery goods like cakes, brownies, pastries
- Ice-creams, flavored yogurt
- Granola, energy bars
- Breakfast cereals
- Syrups, jams
- Canned fruits
- Puddings, milkshakes
- Readymade pancake mixes
And the list goes on.
Why Are Sugars Bad For Children?
Sugars have zero benefits to offer other than the temporary mood lift. Following are the reasons why you should cut this down from your children’s diet.
Risk Of Obesity
Sugars are nothing but carbs with high calories. It takes too much physical activity to burn them and leads to excessive weight gain. In the US itself, there are 19.3% of kids who are affected by obesity. Among them, 20% belong to the category of 6 to 10 years.
They Are Sooo Addictive
We can never stop with that one piece of cake or chocolate, right? Then think about the kids who are more prone to giving into cravings… This leads to binge eating and parents are too helpless here fearing the tantrums the child might show.
This becomes a pattern and before even we could think, they will be badly addicted to sugar goods.
Risk Of Diabetes And Heart Diseases
Yes! Even for kids. Diabetes is becoming more common in kids and teens. Increased sugar in blood can lead to dreadful conditions like artery clogging deposits, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular diseases etc.
This is enough for us to consider a sugar-free life.
A shocking data by CDC reveals how one out of 7 pre-teens have at least one decayed tooth. Cavities is a common problem in kids and around 43% of kids in the US are already suffering from this.
The reason behind this is excessive consumption of sugar and improper dental hygiene. And the result is the child suffering from tooth pain, going for painful dental treatments or even losing their permanent teeth.
When they consume snacks and food that is high in sugars, their immune system gets weakened. We all know the importance of an active and developing immune system in kids for them to stay well.
Artificial sugars can hinder that, affecting the white blood cells and letting the foriegn particles feed on them.
Note: Children can eat fruits that contain natural sugars. This will not affect the body in any negative way. Only the artificial and added sugars are detrimental for them.
Now let’s see the ways in which you can reduce your child’s sugar consumption and let them lead a healthy lifestyle.
Caution! Read The Label
While shopping for groceries, pick products based on the ingredient list and whether it’s approved or not. Instead of going for well-known brands that have high sugar content, pick an organic product that has zero or low sugar content.
There are some cases where they add sugar in other forms and tweak the list. You should be careful in identifying them. Some other forms of sugar that you can find in the list are high fructose corn syrup, maltose, sucrose, caramel, invert sugar, dextrose.
USDA states that there are 56 forms of sugar in total which brands add in their products.
Avoid kids snacks and serials that have more than 15% of sugar content.
And stay away from the beverages section as they contain 10 to 50gms of sugar in one can.
Switch To Better Alternatives
Like already said, natural sugars in fruits will not harm kids. They are the best way to satiate their sugar cravings. You can also make puddings, smoothies, shakes or popsicles using them.
Their sweet nature and natural flavor will come handy in turning this recipe into a tasty one.
Honey is a nice alternative that’s also healthy (Not for children under the age of 2).
Some sweeteners that USDA approves are saccharin, stevia, neotame, advantame, sucralose.
For kids above the age of 5, you can use sugar variants like coconut sugar, organic brown sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, and honey in healthy amounts.
They don’t contain harmful chemicals and are not refined but they are still sugar. So make sure you don’t overuse them.
Make It At Home
You cannot make them stay away from sugar goodies forever. To meet them halfway, make their favorite sweet snack at home with better alternative ingredients suggested above.
You can bake cake, muffins, cookies with this and they will love it more.
Instead of going for bottled and canned juices, try to make fresh juice at home. This way, it’s fresh, retains every nutrient and not contaminated with any other ingredients like sugar or preservatives.
And go for fresh and homemade breakfast options like waffles, pancakes, vegetable muffins, eggs, burritos, sandwiches etc instead of instant breakfast stuff.
Cut Down Desserts Post Meal Unless It’s A Special Occasion
This habit has become rooted down in many families and it’s just tough to leave after some point. Kids while growing up pick up this habit from their elders eventually. They will feel that their day is incomplete if they haven’t had anything sweet.
At start, reduce the portion instead of giving it up totally. Slowly reach the point where you can easily do without them.
Dark chocolate is a better option if they still crave sweets.
From my personal experience, if I could give one piece of advice, It will be cleaning the pantry and fridge. Throw away or donate items that contain too much sugar. When something is there, our mind will work its way to somehow get it.
See this as a family goal as this way you can easily influence them instead of disciplining them.
No Sweet Treats As Rewards
“Mommy will give you chocolates if you clean your room or finish the homework right now.” That’s where the trap starts. Child experts don’t encourage the reward system well as it sets an expectation of getting something in return for doing their normal work.
This becomes both literally and figuratively unhealthy when we treat them with sweet things.
They have to finish their work as well. For that, you can go with better alternatives like sticker rewards, brownie points, or setting tangible expectations in them.
Instead of giving them sweets, give them a reward star if they do their work well or praise them.
Track their work for the whole week and keep adding stars to that. At the end of the week, you can calculate credit points out of that and buy them something for that.
You will be surprised to see their positive behavior changes.
Some Words For Your Thoughts
You know by now how harmful sugar is to kids and how you can cut them down slowly. It’s also important to understand what children go through during this phase and empathize with them.
6 in 10 adults go through severe mood changes, headache, fatigueness, and the feeling of not doing anything. This will last from one week to one month after cutting off sugar.
Connect with them a lot during this phase and don’t forget to treat them with their favorite food items during this time.
Create a daily chart and monitor their daily sugar and fiber consumption and if your child can understand, show it to them as well.
Now they will know why their mother is upset about their diet and wants a change.
Make this a two way process and help your child to come out of this sugary trap.
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