Lately my kids have found me pretty annoying. I recently watched the documentary Fed Up, which exposes the dangers of sugar and how it’s causing huge health issues, and when I learned how much sugar Americans are consuming on a daily basis (over twice the recommended amount), I cut back drastically on what I offer my kids. I have stopped putting Gatorade in their lunches and switched to water, and I keep updating them on the sugar content of almost everything they eat. I’m surprised they don’t start yawning every time I open my mouth about it. :)
We hear a lot in the media about the dangers of sugar. It can be confusing, because there are those who swear you should never let it touch your child’s innocent lips and then there are those pushing the super-sized Big Gulps and saying there’s nothing wrong with school cafeterias serving deep fried frozen food and Coke at the lunch counter.
So who’s right?
To me, the facts are pretty clear. We know white sugar consumption can contribute to obesity and heart disease and has even been linked to cancer. We also know that eating sugar is addictive, and can cause our brains to light up in the same way they would if we took cocaine.
Pretty scary stuff.
I do believe in everything in moderation, but it’s really got me thinking about all the hidden sugars in our food. It’s one thing to eat sugar when you know you’re eating it. You should feel okay about having a treat once in a while, whether it’s a cookie, a piece of carrot cake, or that yummy hazelnut syrup in your weekly mocha. It’s not a sin to give your kid ice cream, or let them eat the (admittedly scary) contents of a birthday party goodie bag. But I am now aware that there is sugar lurking everywhere, in foods that I would never had thought would contain it, and that’s not okay.
A bit of a shocker, right? Most of us buy packaged bread, and we think we’re making a good choice when we opt for the whole grain varieties. They are marketed to seem healthy, but the truth is that most of them are made with added white sugar that helps keep the bread moist and adds a touch of sweetness. Look for brands that don’t list sugar/glucose in the first three ingredients, or even invest in a bread machine and make it at home. It’s easier than you think!
2. Tomato sauce
Jarred pasta sauce can be absolutely loaded with white sugar, with some brands packing up to four teaspoons of sugar into a single half-cup serving. Some brands also contain high-fructose corn syrup. Look for varieties with less than 7 grams of added sugar per serving.
3. Dried fruit
This seemingly healthy snack, which so many of us like to offer our young kids, can also be full of added sugars. A 1/3 cup serving can have over 24 grams of added sugar (yikes!). While raisins are usually safe from added sugar, craisins, dried mango, banana chips and other fruit snacks can be more like eating candy than fruit. It is possible to find dried fruit with no added sugar, and you might have to pay a little more, but it’s worth it.
Food labels list ingredients by weight, from highest to lowest. Look for products that list sugar way down on the list, if at all.
It might take some changes in your diet and a little effort to investigate better food choices for you and your kids, but in the long run, ditching the high-sugar foods will ensure that all of you live a healthier, happier life!
While we are on the topic of food, is your little one a picky eater? Are you having battles at mealtimes? If so, you will want to check out The Food Sense Program, it is a complete guide that is designed to help you get your kids enjoying healthy foods! Get it here!
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