How much sugar is too much for kids? This question is probably one you have thought about a few times (at least) as you shop for your family, make meals and snacks for you kids, and pack lunches…so many lunches!
I am sorry to say that the answer may be much lower than you think. The American Heart Association recommends that children ages 2-18 consume 25 grams of sugar or less each day, that’s just 6 teaspoons. Children under the age of 2 should have 0 grams of added sugar in their diets!
It may seem harsh, unfair, and even impossible, but sugar is no joke and we need to treat it with the same awareness that we do other substances that can be dangerous.
If you are wondering just how dangerous added sugar can be, let me throw some shocking facts at you. Diabetes causes more than 1.6 million deaths each year. Just 20 years ago, Type 2 Diabetes was called Adult Onset Diabetes. In recent years, so many young people and children are now being diagnosed with this diet-induced disease, the name had to be changed to Type 2 Diabetes!
Thats not all, increased sugar intake is also linked to an increased risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and more.
Pretty eye opening, right? But the good news is, YOU have control of this for yourself and your family. It’s never too late to make simple changes that lead to big results for your health!
Here are some things you can do, starting right now, to limit your families sugar intake:
- Read the labels on your food. Start with nutrition label and look for “added sugars.” Also pay attention to the serving size and think about how much you eat or serve at a single sitting.
- Read the ingredients list as well. Sugar can hide under lots of sneaky names.
- Chat with other caregivers. Have a chat with extended family and friends about your new plans and why you are making these changes. Grandparents have the best intentions, but sometimes they are guilty of using sugary foods to show their love. Maybe a small toy or an activity together is a better idea.
- Have fun with other foods. Talk to your kiddos about how food tastes (salty, sweet, bitter), how it feels (crunchy, smooth, creamy.) Lots of foods can be fun, we have to change our mindset around the idea that sugary food are more “fun.”
- Most important, remember, YOU are the CEO of your kitchen. You decide what food is purchased and what you want your family to eat. Start small and be patient.
The bottom line is that added sugar* in our diet can be dangerous and we need to be aware of it. This doesn’t mean that you must eliminate all sugar from your home, but be aware of what you and your family are consuming. Think of it like alcohol. A glass of wine is fine to enjoy, but would you have it added to your breakfast cereal, your yogurt, or even your salad dressing? Treat sugar the same way.
For more help on cutting out sugar and creating healthy habits for your whole family, check out HelathyMomWellness.com.
*NOTE: This article specifically refers to added sugars in the diet, mostly found in processed foods. The naturally occurring sugar in fruits and unsweetened dairy products is not where the concern lies.