In 2016, the American Heart Association released new guidelines limiting the amount of added sugar considered appropriate for a healthy diet. Research shows that children and teens between ages 2-18 should limit their added sugar to less than 6 teaspoons per day and no more than 8 fluid ounces of sugary beverages per week.
Consider these 5 tips to keep your child’s sugar intake at bay, leading to a healthier life.
1. Replace sugary drinks with water
It is easy to overlook, but choosing a healthier drink is key to a balanced diet. Rather than exposing children to soda, carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks, get them familiar with plain water. Sugary drinks speed up weight gain and contribute to poor oral health. Although the intake of such beverages cannot realistically be totally abolished, it can and should be managed and controlled. Parents should encourage children to eat more fruits and accompany them with plain water or milk. This is one of the best tips to avoid the health consequences of sugar and to ensure healthy eating habits at an early age.
If your child loves fizzy drinks, you can dilute them with water, reducing the amount of sugar they receive (although not eliminating it). Provide your child with a refillable water bottle, and encourage them to refill it several times a day. This will quench their thirst with healthy water rather than a sugary drink.
2. Avoid processed food
According to research, more than half of the calories consumed by individuals come from heavily processed food, while less than one-third comes from unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Food products with artificial colors, flavors, additives, and emulsifiers are associated with an increased risk of cancer. Homemade food is usually rich in nutrients and fiber, and this is healthy for your child. Instead of processed food, your child should be encouraged to enjoy homemade food, distracting them from having packed products and reducing their sugar intake.
3. Pack snacks ahead of time
We often choose convenience over health. Planning ahead, however, can make a huge difference in the amount of sugar your child consumes. Fruits and veggies, such as celery and cheese, almond butter, pretzels, ginger salad, homemade fish crackers, toast with egg and avocado, and sweet potato chips can keep your child fuller for longer, reducing their appetite for a midday ice cream. Try to pack both sweet and salty snacks ahead of time to fulfil whatever preference your child enjoys.
5. Fresh fruits and vegetables
There is little downside to adding more fruit and vegetables to your child’s overall diet. Aside from the nutritional values, it also adds more colors to the meals, making it look more appealing. Half an orange can give your child a significant vitamin C boost, and leafy greens such as spinach and kale are bursting with iron, an essential part of your child’s overall energy levels.
A diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in later life as well as maintaining blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sufficient fruit and vegetables also supply fiber to their diet and help prevent constipation. Of course, it can be a challenge to convince a child to eat these food items and so some creativity is required. Here you can try hiding vegetables in meals without your child noticing. For example, you can make a spaghetti sauce with hidden vegetables that your child is sure to love.
5. Homemade food
Homemade food allows you to control the ingredients in your meal. It lets you use natural ingredients, which are usually low in sodium, fat, and added sugar. This gives you the ability to control the sugar your child consumes. As a parent, you can caution the portion, and reduce your child’s urge to indulge in an unhealthy consumption of sugar. You can creatively make meals that will attract your child, but most importantly, they have the nutrients they need and less exposure to sugar. Make it a habit that everyone cultivates to encourage excellent lifelong habits.
For more information
Stay mindful of the problems excessive sugar consumption can cause your child’s health. For more information, contact ARcare at (866) 550-4719 to speak with a healthcare professional.