Just like a drug, sugar can be addictive.
Experts have said that the way the brain reacts to sugar is similar to the way the brain is affected by drugs. It triggers you to want and need more and can be very difficult to give up. Many foods have added sugar, and you may not realize how much sugar your child is consuming on a daily basis.
The American Heart Association recommends that the daily added sugar intake for children should range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day, which varies depending on their age and caloric needs. For most adults, the AHA recommends for women no more than 6 teaspoons per day from added sugars, and for men no more than 9 teaspoons per day from added sugars.
Too much added sugar can cause unhealthy weight gain, and can also make your child more susceptible to tooth decay. Added sugars are often hidden in unexpected places like breads, sauces, dried fruits, and flavored yogurts. Be aware that there are over 60 different names for sugars and they are often used as a disguise on nutritional labels
It may seem impossible to completely cut out added sugar, but choosing a healthier alternative isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Below are some tips to help reduce sugar in your child’s diet.
7 Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Sugar Intake:
- Make more items from scratch. This can be difficult with our busy lives and schedules but keep in mind that the more you can cook for your family at home, the more control you have over the foods and sugars that are eaten.
- Prepare more fruits and vegetables. USDA recommends that both children and adults should eat 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily. There are many benefits to eating fresh produce, they are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber (which can help kids to feel full).
- Eliminate or drastically reduce sugary drinks. This includes sodas, sport drinks, energy drinks, chocolate milk, and fruit juices. Ideally, your child should not be drinking any sugary beverages because they add sugar and calories without much nutrition. Keep in mind that even 100% fruit juice is high in sugars, and low in fiber due to how it is processed. The two drinks that should be offered to your child are milk and water.
- Eat whole foods. Eating more foods in their natural state can help ensure that you know what is in them and in addition will eliminate added sugars.
- Pack healthy, easy to grab snacks ahead of time. This is especially helpful for when you are running errands or have a busy schedule with your kids. Having healthy snacks readily available while out and about helps you avoid the easy to grab, highly processed snacks available at stores or in vending machines; which are full of sugar. By planning ahead it is possible to avoid this scenario. Fruits, veggies, hummus, nuts and nut butters are all great options that keep well.
- Make nutritious swaps. Instead of offering something like flavored yogurt, offer plain Greek yogurt. You can add fresh fruit and berries to lightly sweeten and brighten the color.
- Most importantly, be a role model for your child. Leading a healthy lifestyle yourself is an excellent way to help your child grow and do the same!
61 Names for Sugar:
Agave nectar, Barbados sugar, Barley malt, Barley malt syrup, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Buttered syrup, Cane juice, Cane juice crystals, Cane sugar, Caramel, Carob syrup, Castor sugar, Coconut palm sugar, Coconut sugar, Confectioner’s sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Date sugar, Dehydrated cane juice, Demerara sugar, Dextrin, Dextrose, Evaporated cane juice, Free-flowing brown sugars, Fructose, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, Glucose solids, Golden sugar, Golden syrup, Grape sugar, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), Honey, Icing sugar, Invert sugar, Malt syrup, Maltodextrin, Maltol, Maltose, Mannose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Palm sugar, Panocha, Powdered sugar, Raw sugar, Refiner’s syrup, Rice syrup, Saccharose, Sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Sugar (granulated), Sweet sorghum, Syrup, Treacle, Turbinado sugar, Yellow sugar
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