Stop the presses: Sugar is really, really bad for you...and your kids.
Okay, so that's not exactly news. But it's still important to reduce the sweet stuff that your children consume.
Among the public health experts who would like to see less sugar in kids' diets is the American Heart Association. Their official recommendation? Children should consume less than six teaspoons of sugar per day, or 24 grams daily, and that kids and teens should limit their intake of sugary drinks to eight ounces per week.
Want some context? According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average daily intake of added sugars was 17 teaspoons for children and young adults as of 2018.
Sugar in Hiding
A lot of the extra sugar in our children's diets comes from soda and other sweet drinks.
There is good news: One recent California survey found reductions in the amount of soda consumed by both teens and children. The bad news? Children are consuming more of their liquid sugar in the form of fruit drinks—a tradeoff that may sound like a good idea, but really isn't.
What's more, there are many ways to say "sugar"... about 56 different names for sugar, in. Terms like ‘barley malt’ and ‘sorghum syrup’ might not be as obvious as ‘cane sugar’ and ‘molasses,’ but they are sugars just the same.
Again, there is good news: The Food and Drug Administration now requires a food's Nutrition Facts label to include an Added Sugars line, making those additional sources of sweetness easier to find.
Of course, some foods, such as fruit, contain naturally occurring sugars. Although the body processes all sugars the same way, these foods offer added nutritional benefits, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, compared to added sugars, which simply add empty calories.
Getting your kids to eat less sugar may seem impossible, but it's really not. Here are a few tips:
- Don’t eliminate their favorite treats: We don’t want our kids to think they are being punished by trying to eat healthy. Try scaling back portions instead.
- Don’t skip dessert: Who doesn’t love dessert? There’s a way to get around the calorie-packed, sugary desserts by substituting healthier fruit-based desserts instead. Fruit is nature’s candy, and when cooked, reveals a new decadence that will have them coming back for more.
- Switch up the cereal: Look for cereals made with whole-grains and no added sugar. Top them with some slices of fresh fruit.; you’ll not only add natural sugar, but some beneficial fiber and vitamins to your childrens' diet as well.
- Add a hint of sweetness to drinks: A splash of fruit juice, some lemon or lime slices, or some berries can enliven plain water or club soda.
- Flavor your own yogurt: Some commercial yogurts contain a surprising amount of sugar. If your kids love the stuff, mix in some plain yogurt to their favorite flavor plus some fruit; keep changing the mix until it's 100% plain yogurt with fruit you add yourself.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.