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.
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.
Here are some of the best fun sports snacks that are also healthy for your child.
This is always a healthy option for your kids. You may need to get creative with your choices and you definitely want to offer some variety.
Here’s some of the best options:
Orange slices — If your child is old enough to peel their own, then you can upgrade to clementines.
Apple slices — Just skip the high sugar caramel dips.
Applesauce squeezers — This is a great choice for families on the go.
Bananas — This is a great source of potassium that can be lost as you exercise leading to muscle cramps and spasms.
Raisins — There’s a reason this is called nature’s candy. A box of raisins is a quick hand-held snack to take with you.
Yogurt — Fruit flavored yogurt tubes are another portable healthy snack.
Melons – Cut up honeydew and cantaloupe are refreshing options.
Protein snacks have become big lately in the stores. For adults, protein bars and shakes are good on-the-go snacks. But these aren’t really appropriate for kids. (Not to mention they’re usually full of artificial ingredients.)
Here are a few natural protein alternatives:
Cheese sticks—Kids love string cheese, but if you’re worried about fat content, opt for the 2% cheese instead.
Turkey and Chicken—Roll a slice of turkey or chicken around a cheese stick and you have the protein benefits of a sandwich without the carbs.
Salami sticks—You may have seen these at parties as an hors d’oeuvres. They are sticks of mozzarella wrapped in a piece of salami. You can now buy these in 2-packs for a quick snack.
Protein packs—Many companies are now selling “Lunchable” style protein snacks with cheese squares, meat, and nuts.
Peanut Butter—If your child doesn’t have a peanut allergy, this can be put on celery for a quick and healthy snack option.
One of the biggest tips I can give is to stay hydrated as much as possible. Give your child his or her own water bottle to fill and refill as they need it. Plain water is a healthy option that will keep them going. Don’t give sugary sodas or juices. Sports drinks in moderation for those days they’ve been playing all day in the heat to get an extra boost in between games.
Healthy Snacks Keeps Your Kids Prepared with Fuel for the Playing Field
Part of any athletic regimen is taking care of yourself so that you can perform on the court or field. By giving your kids these healthy snack options, you’ll give them that boost to keep playing their best.
Here are must pack items to bring along with you to sport events:
I can’t say it enough: You’ve got to stay hydrated, no matter what you’re doing. Even if you think you’re just going to be sitting on the sidelines, remember that the sun can really sneak up on you and get you overheated.
And let’s face it—you aren’t just going to be sitting on the sidelines a lot. You’re going to be on your feet, running with the action, and yelling and cheering your kid on to victory.
Sporting event concession stands are notorious for being overpriced and full of unhealthy, sugary sodas and juices. Water will keep you hydrated during the games and keep your throat from drying out, so you can continue to yell your support. If your child runs off from the sidelines to join you, they’re also going to need plenty of water as well.
If you haven’t been to a sporting event for kids in a while, let’s cue you in on one big tip. Chances are the field will NOT have any kind of bleacher seats for you to use, and if they do, the seats are going to be hard metal that will kill your back.
Go ahead and head this off with some comfy captain’s chairs so you can sit in style. I personally like the type that folds up into the easy-to-carry bags and comes with a cupholder for your bottled water.
Soccer, baseball, and other outdoor sports can be brutal underneath the spring-time sun. You’re absolutely going to need shade to keep from roasting.
An absolute must-have is sunscreen. SPF 30 sunscreen will block 97% of the sun’s rays and SPF 50 will take that up just a notch to 98%.
Besides the sunscreen to ward off burns and potential skin cancer, stay safe while outdoors by also bringing an umbrella. (It can double to block out the sun but also to be on hand for any random thunderstorms.) A big floppy hat and a nice pair of sunglasses will round out your ensemble and keep you comfy during the game.
Getting ready for a kids’ sporting event should not require all the packing and preparation as if you’re getting ready to storm the beach at Normandy. But it does require some preparation so that you can be comfortable and safe during the game.