Studies have shown that young children tend to have a preference for sweet tastes and an aversion to foods that are bitter. This could explain why they often beg for sugar and candy. However, too much sugar can harm a child’s oral health, not to mention overall health. Here are a few tips to help your kids cut back.
1. Don’t buy it
Sugar and candy are pervasive in our diet, but as a parent, you have a lot of power to reduce the amount your children ingest. All you have to do is keep it out of your shopping cart and out of the house. Treats are okay on occasion, and kids will probably have sugar with family and friends, but that doesn’t mean you have to give in at home.
2. Don’t forget beverages
Even if you cut out sugary snacks and candy, kids could still be overloading on sugar if they have access to soda, juice, and other sugar-laden beverages. Try to stick to water as much as possible and limit drinks with added sugar.
3. Read labels
When you start reading labels, you might be shocked to learn just how many processed foods contain added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that young children (up to preschool age) with a daily intake of 1,200-1,400 calories have no more than 4 teaspoons, or about 16 grams of sugar per day. What does this mean in practical terms?
An 8-ounce can of coke has 39 grams of sugar. A serving of Frosted Flakes (3/4 cup) has 10 grams of sugar, and even a serving of Corn Flakes (1 cup) has 3 grams of sugar (and that’s before you add milk). It’s extremely important to read labels so you are aware of the amount of sugar your child actually eats daily. This is the best way to start cutting back.
4. Provide alternatives
Kids love sugar, and you can provide it in the form of fruits and veggies that feature natural sugar. Dining at home, prepping healthy snacks for excursions, and generally leaning toward a natural diet (free of processed foods) is a great way to cut back on sugar and help kids learn to eat healthy for life.
5. Talk to your dentist
There’s a lot of information available on how to plan a balanced and nutritious diet for your kids, but one of your best resources is your child’s dentist. This professional has a vested interest in protecting your child’s oral health, and overall health, and he/she can provide valuable information and advice about the best ways to help kids cut back on sugar and candy.