Limiting Sugar in Your Child’s Diet
Sugar is something many of us enjoy in our favorite baked goods or sweets. It makes food or beverages taste better. It is however safe to assume many of us know too much sugar is not a good thing. When it comes to our children, how much sugar they consume is something we need to be aware of.
Children’s diets should consist of healthy food full of nutrients and vitamins that help with their brain development and growth. You may think what you are giving them has no sugar or low in sugar, but that is not always the case. Read on to learn more about sugar when it comes to your child’s diet.
Sugar Vs. Added Sugar
Some foods and drinks contain natural sugars like fruit (fructose and glucose) and milk (lactose). Natural sugars usually have elements that support our health like nutrients and are often paired with fiber. On the other hand, many foods we eat also contain “added sugar.” Added sugar according to the American Heart Association (AHA) is defined as any sugars or syrups that are added during the preparation or processing of food. This includes added at the table. The AHA recommends children under 2 years of age not be given added sugar, while children between 2 and 18 years of age should have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. It is a very small amount.
Sugar and Nutrition Labels
Something to be aware of is that there are dozens of names when referring to added sugar. These include sucrose, agave nectar, and high fructose corn syrup. Reading a nutrition label is key to understanding how much sugar you are giving your little ones. There are several ways companies hide the sugar content in their products and food you may not expect to have added sugar in them do. Ketchup and yogurt for example have quite a bit.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that all added sugars must be on the nutritional labels for food. When reading a label, it is important to take note of the Added Sugars under Total Sugars. These are the sugars that were added during processing. It is also critical to look at the recommended daily value percentage. The FDA states that if a daily value percentage of 5% or less is listed, that is considered a low source of added sugar.
Tips for Handling Sugar
If you are looking at limiting the sugar your baby or child eats, here are some tips:
- Offer milk or water to your child. Fruit juices, even 100% fruit juice, are full of sugar. It is best to avoid or limit.
- Serve whole foods. This way you know sugars were not added.
- Purchase baby food that has “No Added Sugar” like our Banana Mango Organic Food Pouch or make your own organic baby food.
- Check nutritional labels on children’s snacks. Just because they are for kids, doesn’t mean they are low in sugar. Find a few that are low in added sugar to keep on hand.
- Speak to your family or other caregivers about limiting sugars to ensure everyone is on board.
Limiting added sugar in the first few years of your child’s life will benefit them. It can really affect their taste preferences and can also affect their teeth. Added sugar has been linked Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, so it is best to limit it as much as possible, even as they grow up. Starting healthy habits like the above in your family right away will help not only your children continue on for the rest of their lives, but also their parents.