Aside from the occasional cookie, slice of birthday cake or ice cream cone, you may be thinking your kids are pretty healthy eaters. You take a look at their diet and think you’ve done good. Your kids are eating well balanced meals and you limit their sugar. So you think….
Why is ugar bad for our kids, anyways?
I want to explain why sugar is so bad for our kids, because some of us don’t know. Sugar has been proven to be a leading cause of many diseases like cancer, diabetes and obesity. We all know sugar is a major cause of tooth decay, and use to be the only reason why we were concerned with sugar consumption in our kids. Refined sugar and sugar by products tend to make our kids hyper active, until they crash, get tired and cranky. This is why our schools have made it a rule to keep the sugar to a minimum (the kids are sleeping after their sugar crash).
Sugar is also crowding out real, whole foods, that our kids need to thrive and be healthy. How often have you seen a kid snacking on an apple lately? Walk down the street and pay close attention. What are the kids eating? Not fruit or veggies, that’s for sure! When kids fill up on juice and sugar foods, they don’t have room for real food.
It’s addictive. You’ve heard this over and over, I am sure. The reference to white sugar being like kiddie cocaine. It’s pretty accurate. You eat sugar and you want more and more. The feeling of happiness when you eat it! I am a sugar addict and I know this is real. I get giddy when I just think about eating a chocolate bar!
Sugar is expensive. You won’t believe the money you’ll save by giving up all those sugary foods. Do you due dilegence and price compare. Oh, and what about the cost involved in treatments for sugar induced health problems (dental costs, medications to treat headaches, dermatology, diabetes, autoimmune diseases)?
So now that you know a bit about why sugar is bad for your kids, let’s talk about the top 5 unhealthy foods we feed our kids everyday. You’ll be surprised to know that some foods that we have been trusting to be healthy are not.
Read labels! Check out the grams of sugar and the ingredients. Do not believe what the package says. They are marketing to your kid’s taste buds and not their health.
Healthy tip: Kids should be limited to 25 grams of sugar per day.
One teaspoon of sugar equals four grams.
1. Granola Bars
These grab and go breakfast or snack foods are full of goodness right? WRONG! Yes, there are some good whole foods in these bars, such as: oats, nuts or seeds but look at the sugar content. There’s 11 grams of sugar in one bar! That’s equal to almost three teaspoons of sugar. I won’t even start on the ingredient list.
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Yogurt is definitely a healthy food. It’s full of healthy probiotics that our kid’s need in order to build a strong immune system. If you’re feeding a high sugar yogurt to your kids, you are basically cancelling out the good with the bad. In this particular brand there are 11 grams of sugar and that’s equal to almost three teaspoons!! Does that sound healthy? Choose plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit to sweeten it for the kids. Cinnamon is a really great spice to add a sugar-free sweetness too.
Cereal is a staple in many homes. It’s fast and for the most part, it’s healthy, right? Wrong, many of the cereals we have taught our kids to eat are not healthy. They are as close to junk food as it gets. These Frosted Flakes contain ten grams of sugar per 3/4 cup. If your kids want cereal in the morning, serve them oatmeal with fruit and milk or find a brand that has less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and has a 5 or less ingredient list.
Most of us grew up having a glass of orange juice with breakfast and that was considered healthy. Just think about this: one small cup of orange juice is 21 grams of sugar and thats over 5 teaspoons. Yes, it’s a more natural sugar (in most cases) but it’s still too much sugar per serving. One cup is almost the daily intake of sugar for a kid! An whole orange has only about 8 grams of sugar and you’d be giving your kids the added benefits of fiber. Read the labels.
So we are making sure the kids get whole foods and we are cooking them without adding sugar. That’s awesome! But then we load their scrambled eggs with ketchup and the chicken is drowned in BBQ sauce or sweet and sour sauce. Did you know that in one tablespoon of ketchup there are 4 grams of sugar, that’s equal to 1 teaspoon. That means 1/3 of ketchup is sugar. Just be aware of how much ketchup and sauces the kids are using. It’s pretty easy for them to consume 20 to 40 grams of sugar in one breakfast.
You may be thinking, what they heck can I feed my kids? Everything has sugar in it. I get it. The best way to get your kids off refind sugar is by cutting it back little by little and replacing what they love with a better quality (meaning sugarless) option. Here’s a few tips you can use to reduce the amount of sugar your kids eat:
- use fruit as a sweet option when the kids want desserts. Never add sugar to fruit, there’s plenty already. Teach the kids to love the taste of whole foods without additives.
- offer the kids sugar free dips (salsa is good) for their food or at least cut down on the amount of ketchup/sauces they use.
- replace their usual sugary cereal with oatmeal, rice crispies or any brand less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and top it with bananas for added sweetness.
- make water and milk (mostly water) the beverage of choice. Get rid of the sugary juices.
- instead of giving the kids packaged granola bars, take 5 minutes and make your own or offer them a bowl of trail mix instead.
If you have any questions about getting your kids off sugar (or yourself), leave them in the comment section below.