Reducing the sugar in the children's diet can be simple if we know how to detect which foods are found. The added sugars are those that do not exist naturally in a food or drink and they are added during the processing or preparation phase.
Thus, they differ from the sugars naturally present in food. These are found in fruits (fructose), milk (lactose), among others.
Since a time ago, different organisms specializing in health and nutrition are warning about the consumption of added sugar in children, and advocating reducing this substance from the diet of minors.
And there is no doubt that a high consumption of sugar can carry different health problems in our children, such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems or tooth decay. These can present you both in childhood, as in adulthood.
How much is too much sugar?
Most people consume more sugar than recommended by the World Health Organization.
WHO recommends «A reduced intake of free sugars throughout life. The maximum consumption is set at 10% of the total caloric intake; preferably not more than 5%. Both in children and adults ».
For an adult this would be the same as taking between 25 and 50 grams of sugar a day. For children, and especially the little ones who need between 1,200 and 1,400 calories a day, these amounts are even smaller. So Children should not take more than 20 to 30 grams of sugars a day.
According to data from the Anibes study, Spaniards consumed an average of 71.5 grams of sugar a day in 2015. This amount almost triples the recommendations that the World Health Organization considers ideal.
Read more 8 diseases related to childhood obesity
Recognize the added sugar in the labels
As we have seen before, sugar is found naturally in some foods. We refer to fruits, vegetables, milk or yoghurts, for example.
In this case it must be clear that this is not harmful to health. Quite the contrary, since We can say that these foods are healthy and necessary in a healthy diet.
The problem is that in the nutritional composition you can not distinguish between your own sugars and the added sugars. That's why our recommendation is always to look at the ingredients of a product.
If between them we find sugar, brown sugar, maltodextrin, corn syrup, glucose syrup, dextrose and the like, It has added sugar. These are the sugars in the children's diet that we have to reduce.
How to reduce sugar in children's diet
1. Water instead of soft drinks or fruit juices
Water is still the healthiest drink to hydrate children. If they do not take it by themselves, you can add a little fruit to flavor it.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, juices, soft drinks and energy drinks are the main culprits for high intakes of sugar in Spanish children. Reducing your consumption is important, since it is about beverages without any nutritional value.
Water is the best drink to hydrate. If it's hard for children to drink water we can give them different flavors in a natural way, for example with infused fruits, without adding sugars.
2. For fruit or yogurt dessert
To replace dairy desserts such as flans, custards or flavored yogurts, The best thing is to offer them fruit, natural yogurt, natural Greek yogurt or natural kefir.
Not only will we be reducing sugar, but also They will benefit from fiber, vitamins and minerals from fresh fruit. If you like flavored yogurts, you can mix them with fruit or pieces of dehydrated fruit such as raisins, dried apricots or dates.
3. Infant cereals
Breakfast cereals are another of the products that they usually come loaded with sugar. Especially the specials for children. In this case we have two options:
- Change cereals by oatmeal flakes, roasted corn flakes or swollen rice that does not have sugar, and mix them with fruit, nuts, cocoa or cinnamon.
- Or replace cereals with toast or sandwiches. The possibilities are endless: with cheese, avocado, tortilla, tuna, peanut butter, tomato, among others.
Read more The 4 best cereals for your breakfast. Discover them!
4. Special products for children
Some products designed especially for children are significant sources of added sugars. Avoid them!
Beware of those products specially designed for the little ones, Surely you are on the shelves of the supermarket. We refer to milk, yogurt, fruit purees and the like.
Although its manufacturers insist on highlighting its health benefits for children, Most of the time they carry sugar added in their formulas.
- As of the year, children can drink the same cow's milk as adults.
- And in the case of fruit purees, cookies, cocoa, etc., we recommend always looking at the ingredients and choosing the versions without sugar or with less sugar.
5. Sugar in unsuspected products
Sugar is where we least expect it. Especially when it comes to processed products such as sauces (ketchup, caesar, tomato sauce), meat derivatives, pizzas, prepared or packaged dishes. So you have to reduce your consumption to the maximum.
Although preparing everything ourselves is very difficult, we can always:
- Cooking our own sauces (mayonnaise, tomato sauce, pesto sauce, vinaigrettes …) and vegetable creams.
- Buy sausages and bread in trusted stores where we can ask what ingredients they use.
- Read the labels of the rest of the products to choose the versions without sugar.
6. Baubles and chocolate, out of sight
We know that it is not recommended prohibit food for children, since this could arouse a greater interest for them. Not having them on hand at home will help reduce their consumption and to see them as an occasional consumer product.
- They can be saved for special occasions and for this it is better to buy them at the moment.
7. Alternative sweeteners
Brown sugar, honey, syrups, coconut sugar, among others, continue to provide free sugars to our diet. So we must also control their consumption.
When it comes to cooking biscuits, cookies or muffins, We can use ingredients that provide sweetness naturally. Some of them are ripe bananas, dates, raisins or pear or apple compotes.
Reeducate the palate
Reducing sugar in children's diet is not an easy task. Sugar is one of the favorite flavors of the little ones. The more you consume more tolerance is acquired, and today children are exposed to a multitude of sugary products.
Therefore, our final recommendation is have patience, gradually reduce sugar consumption, starting with those foods that our children consume most often. Only then will we get our little ones to get used to the natural sweetness of food again.