6 Simple Ways to Manage Sugar in Your Child’s Diet
Children above the age of 3 like being around other people. Spending time and playing with kids their own age not only develops social skills but physical strength, so parents should make sure their little ones have sufficient energy for their activities.
Carbohydrates play an essential role as the body’s most readily available energy source and come in two main forms: simple carbs found in whole fruits and complex carbs found in starchy foods. Simple carbs break down quickly and cause a spike in blood sugar levels, while complex ones break down slowly, causing blood sugar levels to rise gradually.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends reducing the consumption of free sugars in both adults and children to less than 10% percent of their daily total energy intake. Free sugars refer to those sugar added to food and drinks, as well as naturally occurring sugars in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates. A parallel connection has been found between increasing or decreasing free-sugar intake and body-weight change and tooth decay.
Similarly, the American Heart Association (AHA) noted that too much added table sugar or sucrose in the body has been strongly associated with higher obesity risks that increase with age. Research also suggests that children who consume less sugar have lower levels of triglycerides—fats that contribute to stroke—and higher levels of HDL or healthy fats that fight cholesterol. The AHA advises that children and adolescents should consume no more than 25 grams of free sugar daily, or approximately six teaspoons, and restrict consuming sugar-sweetened drinks to one or less than an 8-ounce beverage weekly.
Excess sucrose intake undeniably affects children’s health, but having them trade a cupcake for a bowl of veggies is not that easy. However, it’s not an impossible feat—and it doesn’t mean depriving them from their favorite treats either. Here are easy ways to help your kids early to improve their taste palate and develop healthy sugar-intake habits:
Serve whole foods
Eliminating certain food groups is not the answer when thinking of your kids’ overall, long-term health. Instead, focus on adding more natural, minimally processed foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. These high-fiber foods keep them full longer and provide more vitamins and minerals. Reduce unnecessary calories and add nutritional value—this is a healthy way to ease your little ones into sustainable eating habits.
Read the ingredients label
You can stay away from obvious sugar sources such as cookies and candies, but added sugars can also be found in seemingly harmless foods. When grocery shopping, check for sugars that appear under many different names—the most common ones include cane sugar, added/table sugar or sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, evaporated can juice, and crystal solids, just to name a few. Even “wholesome” options like whole-grain cereals, canned fruit, and unsweetened juices are often high in sucrose. If it appears in the first three ingredients on the label, you’re better off not taking the item home.
Serve home-cooked meals
Ensure healthier eating by knowing what goes into your food. Aside from sugars, fast-food outlets and restaurants also add more salt and fat that you may end up consuming more than the recommended daily allowance in one sitting. Whip up meals with naturally sweet veggies such as sweet potatoes and corn, or bake using natural sweeteners such as bananas, mangoes, and apples. Ditch instant oatmeal—soak rolled oats overnight in water and top it with fruits for a fiber-packed breakfast or snack. Not only will your child’s body thank you for it; your family's health will benefit from it as well.
Kids who are picky eaters are more likely to be interested in foods that appeal to their sight. Add bright colors and amusing textures to their plate or lunchbox such as flower-shaped carrots, star-cut cucumbers, and mango-apple skewers. Pair flavors that they already love with new tastes, like mini-muffins baked with apples, zucchini, and Greek yogurt. Can’t get them to drink more water? Add a squeeze of lemon or orange, or infuse mint and strawberries to enhance the flavor.
Pack snacks in advance
It’s so easy to forego nutritious eating out of convenience, particularly when you’re out with your kids. Stick with your diet plan by packing munchies ahead of time. Variety is your friend, too. Prepare a few alternatives instead of handing out just a single snack. Stock up on yogurt, cheese slices, and oven-baked veggie crisps that are easy to bring along with you. Travel-friendly trail mixes also help keep your kids away from any junk food.
Control, not forbid
Restricting certain foods makes them even more tempting for children. The occasional chocolate bar won’t hurt, as long as it’s eaten in controlled portions. Avoid keeping sweet snacks by the bulk at home and don’t make a habit of serving dessert after every meal. Avoid using sweets as a reward for finishing their meal, save them for when they help with chores or do great in school. Better yet, replace sweet rewards with exciting experiences such as a trip to the zoo or an extra hour of playtime.
Keep in mind that improving your child’s palate, maintaining a low-calorie sugar in-take, and creating a healthy relationship with food should be the end goals. As you reach these goals, let your kids know the benefits of doing so: how it will affect their health in the future, and support their proper growth and mental development.
To further support such growth and development, give your children aged 3+ the new PROMIL® FOUR. It now has no added sucrose/table sugar, and is mostly lactose, a type of sugar that is recommended for them. Lactose is one of the low-calorie sweeteners, which makes it safe and healthier to be included in your child's milk. It also aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are important to your bone growth development and helps prevent a disease called rickets, which softens bones and causes weak muscles.
With the new PROMIL® FOUR and its Nutrissentials now fortified with Oligofructose and other essential and important nutrients, together with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, you can support your child’s proper growth and mental development to help nurture the gift.
PROMIL® FOUR is a powdered milk drink for children over 3 years old and is not intended for use as a breastmilk substitute