Sugar is seductively satisfying, and there is a reason for that. Early humans developed a sweet tooth as biological insurance that they would seek concentrated nutrition for energy. NPR reports that this biological urge for sugar is even stronger in children. These days food and treats are ubiquitous, and that sweet tooth is causing many of us, including our children, to ingest too much sugar. The over intake of sugars cause cavities, the development of diabetes and weight control problems — to name a few. Find out a few great ways to help children stop consuming too much sugar.
Avoid added sugar. There is plenty of sugar in many of the things we eat naturally. Many processed foods and snacks are targeted to kids. These products are loaded with days and even weeks of the daily sugar limits and are missing nutrition. According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines (which the USDA states is intended for all people age 2 and older), added sugars make up 16 percent of the total calories in our diet. Avoiding that bit of sugar on your child's morning cereal or sweetened beverages and limiting fruit will add up to big sugar savings in the end.
Know your sugar. Honey, agave nectar, corn syrup, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, raw sugar, fructose, sucrose and glucose — it is all sugar to the body and it affects the body in the same way. Note: Simple carbohydrates are practically considered sugar since your body converts the starch to sugar very simply and quickly. Too much sugar (or too much of anything) is stored in your body as fat. The Mayo Clinic states that all sugar, natural or processed, is a carbohydrate and the average person should consume no more than 100 to 150 calories of added sugar per day. That breaks down to about 6 to 9 teaspoons of added sugar daily. That’s not a lot considering the average teenager consumes 34 teaspoons of added sugar a day, reports MSNBC.
Avoid the healthy fat-free treats. It's hard to stop giving your kids goodies as a treat. Some might be fooled into thinking that offering children fat-free cookies, candy, cakes is a healthier alternative, but it is not. These types of treats are not the healthy snack they claim to be. Most fat-free treats are loaded with excess sugar and salt to compensate for the lack of fat.
Diet cola, diet schmola. Don’t be fooled into thinking a diet cola is a sweet way to give your children the taste of sugar without the sugar and calories. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners actually intensify sugar cravings and may fool the body into thinking it’s hungry, when it is not. Additionally, we don't know the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on growing bodies.
Skip soda, drink water. It’s not the answer many children want to hear, but it’s good advice. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines reports that soda and other sugary drinks make up almost 36 percent of the added sugar in the American’s diet. Fall in love with water. For fun, add lemon slices, ice and a fun, colorful straw to make it appealing.
Go easy on the natural sugars, too! Children love fruit juice, and parents frequently give it to their children thinking it is a healthy beverage. But drinking fruit juice is not the same as eating a piece of fruit that comes with fiber and other complementary nutrients. The fruit juice parents are giving their children is just liquid simple sugars — no fiber whatsoever. Even fruit itself should be considered a source of sugar to be enjoyed but in moderation.