Refined sugar is the scourge of modern diets and has thankfully come under the spotlight more and more in recent years as people’s eyes are opened to the damage the white stuff is doing to everything from our waist lines to our moods.
While naturally occurring sugars found in fruit, milk and so on is not to be avoided, and the likes of honey and syrups can be fine in small measure, refined sugar can now be found in everything from yoghurt to ketchup to bread.
People of all ages are eating too much sugar every day, but children’s immature taste buds are drawn to sugar and they simply don’t understand the negative effects of consuming sweets, chocolate and junk food on their little bodies.
Added to that, children may be at greater risk of health risks such as obesity and diabetes because their daily recommended intake is only 3 teaspoons of sugar per day – more than half the maximum 7 teaspoons adults can handle.
According to the latest statistical report of Public Health England children consume an average of 10kg sugar every year.
If you’re concerned about your child’s sugar intake, then here are six tips for how to limit their exposure to and consumption of sugar in their diet.
Unrefined sugar-free snacks could include anything from fresh fruit to rice cakes, but they don’t have to be boring either. You could try baking a loaf of banana bread each week, sweetened with honey or maple syrup!
No matter what snack you opt out for, try to have them ready ahead of time, so that when you’re picking up the kids from school or lounging around with them on a Sunday afternoon, you have something healthy that will satiate their sweet tooth.
Ditch the sugary drinks – everything from sports drinks to fizzy pop. A can of cola can have as much as nine cubes of sugar, which is more than even the recommended daily limit of sugar for adults. And be mindful of the fruit juices which have added sugar, too.
To keep your kids hydrated, try infusing water with different fruits or herbs, such as raspberries, strawberries, lime, lemon, mint, and cucumber. The flavour combinations are endless and while those used to sweeter drinks will put up a fight at first they’ll soon become accustomed to it.
If you have a food processor in the kitchen, then you could easily be making your own ice cream which the kids will love.
All you need is a few frozen bananas, a dash of milk, and additional ingredients to flavour your ice-cream. You can try adding frozen raspberries, cocoa, or even peanut butter. Make sure to freeze the bananas overnight and only when they’re fully ripe, and leave them out half an hour before you use them. Add all the ingredients to the food processor and blend – you may have to scrape down the sides a few times and be patient until you get your creamy banana ice cream, but it’s well worth the wait.
Depending on the age of your kids, you could start teaching them about nutrition or make them aware of what’s in their food. For instance, do your kids aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day? Maybe make it a challenge and introduce every parents’ friend, the sticker reward chart!
Also make sure to stick to positive reinforcement when it comes to food. Let them know when they’re eating fruit, for example, that they’ll be powered by all the vitamins and brimming with energy for the rest of the day.
The key to cutting down sugar intake at mealtimes is homemade food prepared from scratch. But if you cook with your kids, you could actually show them how to use different, healthy ingredients. Plus, you could have loads of fun with it. When building snacks together, you could challenge each other to making the best flower out of celery and carrot sticks and a pot of hummus, or a friendly fruit face. Mix it up and make it fun!
Research has shown that forbidding foods makes them even more attractive to children. The occasional biscuit or sweet treat won’t have a huge impact on a child’s eating habits. It’s important to remember that there’s no issue with eating sugar, but it’s the quantity of it that’s in question, and reducing the amount of sugar children consume can ward off many diet-related diseases as well as creating good habits for life.
Be sure to contact a medical professional for advice on your children’s health and wellbeing. With the Qured app, you can see a doctor at a time and location of your choice. Download the app today -> onelink.to/jtygac.