As parents, I think we all agree that we are responsible for the well-being of our children. Why is it that so often we neglect their nutritional needs? We are constantly giving them sugary drinks, candy, cookies and more and most of us probably don't think twice about it.
Several studies have found that milk (lactose is a sugar) and other beverages are the two main sources of sugar in children, while candy was the third highest contributor. Another study also showed significant, positive behavioral changes in children who had been diagnosed at ADHD when sugar was removed from their diets.
Did you know...
- Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, concentration difficulties, and crankiness in children.
- Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
- Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
Would You Like Sugar With That?
by Aurea Thompson, MSH, RD, CSP, LD/N Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition Wolfson Children’s Hospital
Although artificial sweeteners are declared safe for consumption, many people choose not to use them for themselves or their kids because of taste or other personal reasons. Here are some tips on how to reduce sugar intake without using artificial sweeteners.
Rule #1: Learn to like foods that are less sweet.
Replace one-fourth to one-third of the sugar called for in recipes with non-fat dry milk. Here’s how:
Cakes: For each cup of flour, use no more than ½ cup of sugar in cakes.
Cookies: Alter cake-like cookies the same way as above. Altering other noncakelike cookie recipes may result in an unacceptable baked product.
Muffins and quick breads: For each cup of flour, use no more than one tablespoon of sugar.
Yeast breads: For each cup of flour, use no more than one teaspoon of sugar.
Rule #2: Use spices and herbs.
Try using cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg to enrich the flavor of foods in place of, or with a reduced amount of sugar.
Rule #3: Add fresh fruit.
Mix fresh fruit into unflavored oatmeal in place of brown sugar, or mix fruit into plain yogurt instead of buying the yogurt with all the cookie and candy toppings. In place of maple syrup, make your own toppings for pancakes and waffles by puréeing fresh fruit and adding a bit of water and vanilla extract.
Rule #4: Sweeten foods with juice.
Use fruit juice or frozen juice concentrate to sweeten foods.
Rule #5: Consider using honey or molasses.
Honey and molasses taste sweeter than table sugar. Using them instead of sugar may help you reduce the total sugar content of a recipe, but by weight, they contain as much sugar (carbohydrate) as table sugar.
Rule #6: Serve cooked fruits and vegetables.
Cooking fruits and vegetables can make them taste sweeter than eating them raw.
Rule #7: Make your own beverages.
Make your own reduced-sugar beverages by mixing together carbonated water and fresh fruit juice.
Rule #8: Make sure your kids get plenty of rest.
Chronic lack of sleep can cause people to crave more sugary foods. Make sure to get plenty of rest whenever you are trying to reduce the amount of sugary foods in your diet.
Rule #9: Make sure your kids don’t go four hours or more in between meals/snacks.
Younger children and toddlers should have regular snack times throughout the day, and older children should be allowed to have sensible snacks in between meals. Keeping your kids on a schedule helps prevent hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, from occurring. Toddlers and preschoolers may need to have something to eat every two hours to prevent the “hungry tantrums.” By providing a healthy snack schedule, you can help prevent your child from craving sugary foods.
Rule #10: Use fruit for dessert.
Try using the best fruits of the season as an after-dinner dessert! Cut up fresh strawberries, bananas, or melon for toppings on frozen yogurt or applesauce. Or mix blueberries, raspberries and strawberries together with a little “light” whipped cream for dessert. If fresh fruit is not available, try frozen fruit as a topping over fat-free vanilla yogurt, Greek-style yogurt, or yogurt of your choice. Mix frozen fruit with soy milk in the blender for a homemade smoothie...great for an after dinner treat in the summer!
God gifted us with our children, let's take the best care of them we can!