Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Kids' Nutrition - Sugar is Everywhere!

Kids' Nutrition - Sugar is Everywhere!
By ['Brien]Barbara O'Brien

Americans these days eat an average of two to three pounds of sugar every week. Per person. Sugar consumption has increased dramatically in the last thirty years. It is common knowledge that excess sugar adds empty calories and can lead to a variety of health problems, such as weight gain and tooth decay. What can we do to get ourselves and, maybe more importantly, our kids back on track with a healthier diet. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Read labels. Manufacturers put sugar in almost all processed foods. Packaged salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, packaged macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs are examples of foods that you wouldn't expect to have lots of sugar in them, but they do. Be aware of what you are eating and feeding to your kids. Keep track of your total sugar intake for a couple of days. You will probably be surprised. Sugar may be disguised on the package label. Look for "high fructose," "corn syrup," and "sucrose." Those all translate to the same thing: sugar.

Limit sodas. Make soft drinks special-occasion treats. One twelve-ounce can of regular soda has from nine to eleven teaspoons of sugar. Harvard researchers reported in 'The Lancet' that twelve-year-olds who drank soda pop often were much more likely to be overweight than peers who didn't. "Made-with-real-juice" drinks often have as much sugar in them as soda pop. 

Sweeten baked goods with unsweetened applesauce or other fruit purees. You will be adding nutrition to the foods in addition to cutting the sugar. If you do use sugar in a recipe, try reducing the amount of sugar by a third. This may take a little experimentation, but you might be surprised that you'll not miss that extra sugar.

Pack lunches with extra fruit, unsweetened applesauce, or one of your own less-sugared creations. Instead of jelly, try mashing or pureeing fruit to go with peanut butter on a sandwich. 

Make frozen fruit pops with unsweetened fruit juice.

Make candy a once- or twice-a-week treat rather than an everyday part of your child's diet. Don't forbid it completely or it will be even more desirable.

Get your child involved in nutrition matters. Make it a project with your kids to reduce the total amount of sugar in your and their diet. Let them read labels, experiment with recipes and track sugar intake. If they are involved, they are more likely to cooperate.

Barbara O'Brien is an author, cook and mother of two young chefs.  She enjoys helping other people make the most of time in the kitchen with their kids.  Find safety tips, recipes and more at []

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