Limiting the amount of sugar your kids take in through snacks and sodas will improve their health and save you money to boot.
The American Heart Association just came out with their new recommendations about how much added sugars kids should take in. Hold on to your seats, it's not much: Six teaspoons. Most kids consume three times that amount.
These recommendations are for kids 2 to 18 years old. Children under the age of 2 are not supposed to consume any added sugar at all.
"For most children, eating no more than six teaspoons of added sugars per day is a healthy and achievable target," Dr. Miriam Vos explained in a Heart Association news release.
I agree it is achievable, but it won't be easy. You really have to get rid of the processed foods because they are packed with added sugar, especially breakfast cereal and soda. The best plan of action is to not even bring it into the house.
Many parents wonder what their kids will live on if there are no processed foods. There are some cereals that have no added sugar. There's plain oatmeal. In both instances you can add fresh fruit to sweeten it a bit.
Perhaps a better breakfast alternative is an egg or two. The healthy fat and protein will stave-off those hunger pangs all morning.
Choose snacks like carrot sticks, cheese, nuts, celery with almond butter or fruit. Don't let your kids drink anything but water.
If you're confused about how much six teaspoons of sugar is, think of it as 25 grams of sugar. If you check out the labels on food products, you'll see the amount of sugar in the product listed in grams in the "Nutrition Facts" box. We should all consider these facts when buying anything at the grocery store. There are four grams to a teaspoon.
If you are not in the habit of reading the Nutrition Facts label, prepare yourself for a shock. You'll be amazed how much sugar is in foods you'd never expect, like yogurt. Many of those tiny containers of yogurt contain as much sugar as an ice cream cone!
By the way, sugar comes in many forms. Don't be fooled by healthy sounding sugars like honey, molasses or "pure cane sugar."
Also remember high fructose corn syrup is sugar. Actually any type of syrup is sugar, as are those ingredients ending in "ose" that you've never heard of.
There are many reasons our kids should back off on sugar. First, there's an obesity epidemic striking American youngsters largely because of the sugar they consume.
Secondly, obesity leads to all kids of other health problems, like obesity in adulthood which can cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a whole long list of other health problems.
Added sugars also tend to take the place of health foods.
"There is little room in a child's diet for added sugars because they need calories from vegetables, fruits, protein sources, whole grains and dairy to grow up healthy," Vos adds.