It’s no secret, sugar is something we all know can be very bad for you. However your child may not know this or more to the point may not even understand why. All they know is it makes things taste good so they want more and more of it!
Your job is to make sure there is a defined limit on how much they consume each day. This is easier said than done but can be done through simply managing what food they have. Different types of sugar exist in different types of food some of which are not quite as bad for your little one. These include fructose, glucose, lactose, maltodextrin and dextrose. Discussing these goes a little beyond the scope of this article but we will discuss them in more depth in future posts.
The ‘bad’ kind of sugar we are all talking about is known as “refined sugar”. This is a processed form of sugar which you would not find anywhere in nature. Therefore it should come as no surprise that it not good for you at all.
These refined sugars are found in all sorts of fizzy drinks, sweets, syrups and junk foods. Obviously aim to avoid as much of these sugar as possible. It would be impossible to completely cut them out, but minimizing them is a very good idea.
There are also simple sugars which are found naturally in foods like fruits. Simply due to them being produced naturally they are much easier for you the body to breakdown and it should go without saying that getting you child to eat fruit is a great thing to do. However even with natural sugars there needs to be a limit set in place as ultimately it is still sugar!
How much sugar should my child be allow to eat?
As with anything regarding nutrition everyone will have slightly different requirements particularly in children who are growing rapidly and have an ever increasing need for further nutrition. However some rough guidelines do exist which we set out by the government.
They claim that children between the ages of 4 to 6 years old should consume no more than 19g of sugar daily, which is equivalent to just under 4 teaspoons. Children aged 7 to 10 years old should consume no more than 24g which is equivalent to just under 5 teaspoons daily. Children older than 10 fall into the same category as adult who should consume no more than 30g a day which is the equivalent to 6 teaspoons.
Due to the fact we are talking about amount no greater than 30g the variations between how much each child should consume will be so small it isn’t really worth worrying about.
My child has a lot more sugar than that!
Oh dear, well maybe you could employ few of these tips to cut down on the sugar.
- Replace fizzy drink which are laden with sugar with squash or better yet just plain water. This may be difficult if your child has become accustomed to fizzy drinks only, but it important that your child begin to see fizzy drinks as a treat rather than a source of hydration. Rather than going cold turkey, try to gentles transitions between the two.
- Swap that sugary breakfast cereal for a wholegrain alternative which isn’t coated in sugar or honey.
- Instead of jam, honey, marmalade or chocolate on toast, why not try a sliced banana instead.
- Put the candy/sweet jar out of reach and out of sight. Without a constant reminder it will be easier for your child to focus on something else.
- Make your own sauces for meals rather than buying ready made. You will be able to much less sugar and get the same great taste.
- Any sweets your do give to you child, make sure they are their absolute favorite as eating only one or two will be much more satisfying that eating loads of sweets just for the sake of it.
- Try and make a game of it, children love a challenge! Perhaps award stars or points for choosing the healthy option. When they collect enough reward them with a treat.
Employing a few of these tactics can dramatically reduce the amount of sugar your child consumes. The benefits of this will be clear immediately, your child will be healthier overall, less hyper and have less mood swings, as well as having a much lower chance of developing type II diabetes!