Mary Poppins famously said that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” But unfortunately, sugar has become a huge problem with children.
An occasional piece of candy quickly adds more sugar to what’s already a surprisingly high amount in what we think are healthy choices. Not only is childhood obesity becoming an issue, but it’s also setting our kids up for health problems.
I don’t want to sound like an alarmist saying that everything must be totally sugar free. Like everything else, sugar should be enjoyed in moderation. It was very helpful to me to understand the exact amounts of sugar that are considered ok for our kids to have each day.
So how much sugar are kids eating?
According to some sources, as much as 76 grams of added sugar a day. Let’s put that into perspective.
No one would let their child eat a teaspoon of pure sugar as a snack. But every four grams of sugar you eat equals one teaspoon of pure sugar. That 76 grams of sugar equals out to 19 teaspoons a day. How much should they eat? About 24 grams of sugar, or six teaspoons.
Where’s the sugar our kids are eating coming from?
Believe it or not, it’s not because our kids are gorging themselves on candy and cookies and cakes every day.
In reality, it may not even be a problem with food at all but with drinks. A can of regular soda has 9.75 teaspoons, over half of their total daily allowance.
If you think a juice box is healthy, think again. It has almost 6 teaspoons of sugar (5.75 to be exact) which is roughly one-third of the daily allowance.
By contrast, a glass of milk has about 3 teaspoons of sugar and a low-sugar juice pouch has only 2 teaspoons. A healthy option for anyone when it comes to beverages is plain water. You can add fruit to the water to give it flavor.
Some foods do have hidden sugars to look out for.
If you think that granola bars are a better alternative to Hershey bars, then you need to realize that they have almost the exact same amount of sugar (25 grams or about 6 teaspoons). Yogurt is also a culprit here with some brands containing 30 grams (7.5 teaspoons) of sugar. I know I was sure surprised to learn this!
Knowing is half the battle!
Please know I am not saying you must cut these foods completely out of your kids’ diets and put them on a strict regiment of kale, bread, and water. We have to be aware of what is going on with our food and with everything else we have going on, it’s easy to miss this. As a fellow concerned parent, I know we have to take a moment at the grocery store and read the labels.
Encourage comparison shopping with your kids and look for the options that have less added sugar. When they’re old enough to begin making choices for themselves about what to eat, you will have passed this habit on to your children! The results will be kids who are ready to be independent, healthy eaters.
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