Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

How can I reduce added sugar in my child’s meals?

Experts can agree on this – we need to cut the added sugar in our children’s foods (and our own too!).

The World Health Organization recommends that added sugar be less than five per cent of daily dietary consumption. 

Added sugar does not add nutrients to our kids’ diets or our own, just extra calories. It can be hard to maintain a proper calorie balance if you overindulge on added sugar calories whether knowingly or not. It can also contribute to Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Most of us don’t even realize how much sugar we eat since added sugars are often lurking in the food we eat. It is estimated that the average person eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day (88 grams).

What exactly are added sugars? When a food product is prepared or processed, sugar can be added at that point. These are the sugars that the experts agree should be limited. Natural sugars in foods such as fruits and milk are not included in the recommendations to be reduced.

How do we know where added sugars are lurking? Reading the label of course!

The nutrition facts label will tell you the total amount of sugar which includes both natural and added which can make it confusing to know exactly where you stand with added sugars. You need to read further by reviewing what ingredients have been added to the foods you are buying. The ingredient list will use terms such as corn syrup, brown sugar, honey, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar, nectar, maple syrup, malt syrup, and invert sugar. The higher it is in order under ingredients, the larger the amount the food contains.

These foods contain the most added sugar and it is best to avoid these foods and beverages:

  1. regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  2. candy
  3. cakes
  4. cookies
  5. pies and cobblers
  6. sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts
  7. fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch
  8. dairy desserts, such as ice cream and sweetened yogurt
  9. sugar sweetened cereals

Don’t forget the sugar bowl used at the table. Limit the amount of sugar you add to beverages, over fruit or cereals and whenever a sprinkle might be used.

Working toward avoiding added sugars in not only your kids’ foods but yours too will help you all stay healthy and maintain a normal weight.

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