Our kids are walking around amped up and “high” on sugar. And it’s easy to see why – added sugar is everywhere!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “children and adolescents report consuming 17% of their calories from added sugars, nearly half of which are from sugary drinks.” And this has serious consequences — including risk for dental decay, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, fatty liver disease and all-cause mortality.
Below, we’re sharing some of our go-to tips for creating awareness around added sugar and how you can reduce its intake in your kids’ diets.
Eat wholesome foods:
The best tip of all: eat wholesome fruits and vegetables. Straight from nature and not processed, there’s nothing better than eating food from nature that’s rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Cut up fruit or veggies in their lunches, and make sure it is available for after-school snacks. Kids not a fan? Consider cutting up what they do they like into a fun shape — like a star or dinosaur — and stick with what they love, then slowly introducing new items. Consistency is so important when focusing on eating wholesome.
Pay attention to labels:
The grocery store is a landmine of added sugar. From ketchup to cereal to pasta, added sugar is everywhere! Pay attention to labels, especially looking at the grams of sugar per serving. Note: kids should only have 25 grams of sugar (6 tablespoons) or less per day. Consider that a can of soda has 39 grams or their favorite “fruit snacks” have 11 grams.
Make more food from home:
The best food is always going to come from the home. Try a new recipe every week with your kids where you incorporate some of their favorite foods into healthier options. Some of our favorites include our Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, Chipped and Homemade Beans, or Black Beans and Rice, to name a few options.
I understand that kids’ love sweets. Help them to appreciate real, natural flavors by enhancing their favorite foods or waters with fruits and vegetables like lemons, oranges, cucumbers, and berries, to name a few options. Experiment and have fun!
Enhance with herbs
: Natural herbs are loaded with flavor and provide nutritional benefits as well. Instead of packaged mixes or pre-made food, consider adding a new fresh herb to your dishes. Some herbs to try are basil, rosemary, dill, parsley, and more.
Kids can get hungry pretty quickly that can lead to meltdowns and fits. When you’re out or traveling, it’s easy to grab the quickest thing to help them calm down and bring their blood sugar levels down. To combat the quick fix, always pack a collection of their favorite healthy snacks whenever you’re out and about. Check out a list of our 26 favorites here.
Eliminate sugary drinks:
This is a HUGE shift that can drastically reduce the added sugar intake in your child’s diet. Eliminating soda, juices, sports drinks, lemonade, and more can greatly help with added sugar. There are even some strides with the discussion of a soda tax – however, this is yet to change on the national level.
With some dietary shifts, we can all increase the awareness of added sugar in our kids’ diets. With awareness, research, and diligence, you will be a fighter for what your child needs — and deserves — in their diets.