However, although challenging, these efforts are also incredibly important. According to the Australian government’s website, Eat for Health, these high-sugar foods (such as biscuits, cakes, confections, fizzy drinks, and sports/energy drinks) fall into the category of “discretionary choices”, ones which are not needed by the body for nutrition. The sites notes that “If chosen, they should be eaten only sometimes in small amounts.”
Why are so many dieticians and other healthcare professionals so concerned about this issue? The BBC reports that while the debate goes on about whether or not sugar can affect a child’s behavior and lead to problems with hyperactivity, what is definitely know is that a high-sugar diet can increase the risk for weight gain (and the diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, which accompany weight problems) and for problems like tooth decay.
The problem many parents have, however, can be knowing where to start. A good tactic can be to begin trimming away foods that are extremely high in sugar and replacing them with healthier alternatives. Read on to find out more!
5 Foods to Cut from Your Child’s Diet
Here are five foods that you should consider cutting from your child’s diet immediately due to their high sugar content. While some of these foods might seem obvious, others might come as a surprise to health-conscious parents.
- Fizzy Drinks
In recent years, more and more parents have become aware that the large amounts of fizzy drinks that children consume can have serious health consequences (like the ones mentioned above) due to their high sugar content. The BBC reports that many of these drinks can have up to 9 teaspoons of sugar per serving and recommends that milk or sparkling water be offered instead.
- Biscuits and other Baked Goods/Pastries
Biscuits and other baked goods may be tempting to children, but cutting them out of a child’s diet (except as an occasional treat) is a good idea due to their high sugar content. The BBC recommends that healthy alternative to biscuits and other sweets could include plain scones or rice cakes. Other alternatives could include sliced fresh fruit or hummus served with vegetables or whole wheat crackers.
- Fruit Juice
Fruit juice has an unearned reputation for being a healthy choice for children. While some juices are rich in certain vitamins and minerals, however, they are also extremely high in sugar, sometimes clocking in around 9 grams of sugar for a single cup of juice, according to an article in Everyday Health. The BBC recommends giving children a small amount of unsweetened fruit juice diluted with sparkling water instead.
- Granola Bars
Again, granola is often seen as a healthy, more natural alternative to confections, candy bars, and the like. However, many commercially made bars are also incredibly high in sugar, with 9 grams or more per bar, according to Everyday Health. They recommend checking the labels and only purchasing those with low sugar content, or else using alternatives such as homemade trail mix.
- Dried Fruit
Like fruit juice and granola bars, many parents also tend to see dried fruits as a healthy, child-friendly snack. They might be surprised to learn that these tasty treats are not only high in sugar naturally but can often have extra sugars added to them while they are being processed and Everyday Health reports they can contain as much as 29 grams of sugar in a single serving. Fresh fruit is a good alternative, as its sugars are not as concentrated as they become during the drying process.
What Should Your Child be Eating?
So now that you’ve cut these foods from the diet, you might be wondering about what your child should be eating. Fortunately, there are definite guidelines from sites like Nutrition Australia, which are designed to help Australians make healthy eating choices at any age. For children between the ages of 2 and 18 (depending on their specific age group), 2 ½ to 5 ½ servings of vegetables, 1-2 servings of fruits, 4-7 servings of grains (with whole grains being preferred), 1-2 servings of lean meats or legumes, and 1 ½ to 3 ½ servings of dairy products.
Sugar is everywhere in society, and it can be a significant challenge for parents to ensure that their child is following a low-sugar diet. However, cutting out foods like the ones mentioned above and diligently reading labels to avoid sugary items can help prevent problems like weight gain and tooth decay and lead to an overall healthier childhood.