How much sugar is too much?

How much sugar is too much?
How much sugar is too much? Image source: Unsplash

Five tips to reduce your child’s sugar intake

Hide the crockery and strap down your valuables. Your child’s sugar rush has kicked in and no one is safe.

While sugar spikes are thankfully temporary, they can have lasting effects on your child’s health. “Too much sugar can affect your child’s mood, activity and hyperactivity levels as their blood sugar becomes a roller coaster. But while behaviour is visibly affected by too much sugar, it’s the long-term health risks that are concerning,” says Angela Leach, the Head Dietician for FUTURELIFE®.

Long-term studies link sugar to a risk of health issues later in life, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends reducing the intake of free sugars. In addition the WHO recommends reducing the sugar intake of children to less than 10% of total energy intake.

So how do you turn the tide on your child’s sweet tooth? Angela offers four tips that will help you reduce the amount of sugar in your child’s diet:

1. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages

Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages will have a big impact on reducing your child’s overall sugar intake. Even though 100% fruit juice doesn’t have added sugar, it’s still a lot of sugar concentrated in one place. If your child loves fruit juice, consider diluting it with water in a 50:50 ratio. Also try to avoid sodas and sports drinks and as kids get older, sweet teas and coffee drinks. Encourage them to drink water. If you can introduce water while they are young, it will become a great habit throughout their lives.

2. Watch condiments

Sugar often hides in all those delicious condiments clinking in your fridge door. Condiments such as tomato sauce or barbecue sauce rely on pure sugars and syrups for flavour. So while it’s easy to douse your food with these tasty dressings, limit your children to one teaspoon on their food. They will still get the flavour but without all the added sugar.

3. Opt for naturally-sweetened snacks

When your kids want something sweet, instead of reaching for high-fat, high-sugar foods, give them a sweet, healthy snack. Naturally sweet fruits like apples and bananas, whole grains like popcorn, beans and dairy top the list as they contain fibre and other nutrients. These snacks provide a sweet or savoury fix that is healthy. If cereal is the go-to snack for your children, try FUTURELIFE® Kids Cereal. With 40% less sugar than the market leader in pre-sweetened cereal, just add milk or plain yoghurt for a quick snack that’s high in fibre and packed with 33 nutrients for brain, bone and immune support. It’s a cereal that children love that’s loaded with the nutritional benefits a mother likes to see.

4. Have designated treat times

Sweet treats can have a place in your child’s diet, but it shouldn’t be every day. One way to do this is to schedule ‘sweet treat times’ during which your children can have a dessert, chocolate or sweet treat of their choice. It can be once or twice a week, whatever works for your family. This means that you won’t have to say ‘no’ all the time and it will teach your children to eat sweet treats in moderation. Also, avoid rewarding good behaviour with sweets as this can lead to a negative relationship with sugary foods.

“Children need guidance when choosing a balanced diet and they need assistance from adults to help them make healthy decisions. But remember, it’s okay for kids to have treats once in a while as long as they are getting the nutrition they need from other foods throughout the day and learning to appreciate the benefits of healthy eating,” she concludes.