No parent would ever dream of packing their children PB & Sugar sandwiches for lunch, but chances are this happens more than we’d like to know. Sugar hides in so many foods, especially those we wish to make taste better. And since kids are so often very selective eaters, sugar is abundant in most kid-friendly foods. But, how much sugar should your children actually be having?
Sugar for Children? Keep it 10%
Adults on a 2,000 calorie diet shouldn’t have more than 40 grams of sugar per day. Usually, kids eat twice that in one meal. Not considering the extra cupcake they had a school, fruit-roll-up on the bus, or hot chocolate with extra whipped cream before bed. Not only is sugar in practically every kid-friendly food out there, but it is so abundant that our children are sugar addicts. Forget the broccoli and pass the applesauce.
Too much sugar is bad for anyone, not just kids, and this come as no surprise to all the parents out there. What’s really shocking is just how much your children are eating day-to-day. Too much sugar for kids is anything above 10% of total calories from that day. Depending on your child's activity level, some may need more and some may need less. As a rule of thumb, keep sugar at 10% of total calories and fear not tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes.
The world sugar consumption is exceptionally high and guess what? America has the sugar highest consumption in the world. The average American consumes more than 126 grams of sugar daily. Putting this into perspective, this is slightly more than three 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola and 31.5 teaspoons of pure sugar. We'll take a glass of water please!
Effects of too much Sugar on Kids
Too much sugar causes:
- Increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Accelerates aging, physically and internally
- Can lead to gum disease and heart disease
- Replaces calories that children should be getting from nutrient-rich foods
- Causes sugar addiction
- Increases stress and reactive behavior
But most of all, sugar’s effect on the immune system is the primary cause for all negative consequence of eating too much sugar. A weak immune system makes room for disease, health problems, and mental obstacles.
Children and sugar have a strong mental and emotional relationship. It tastes good so children (and most adults) eat more and forget about the foods which actually fuel their body. Instead, replacing healthy calories with sugar-filled foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and protein all carry large amounts of nutrients that aid in brain development, promote a healthy growth rate, and maintain energy throughout the day.
Does sugar make kids hyper? Let’s not ignore the sugar rush! Having large amounts of sugar spike blood sugar which is often why your child may get huge energy spurts and then crash minutes after… or reach for another sugary snack to fuel their fire. Opt for whole foods without any extra sugar or Grape Nectar which has a glycemic index of 24, the lowest of all natural sugar alternatives! Not only does grape sugar help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, it contains antioxidant that reverse the negative effects other sugars cause.
Control your Children’s Daily Sugar Intake
- Stick to the recommended sugar intake of 10% of daily calories. Most of this should come from sugars in fruits, naturally occuring sugar like Grape Nectar, and sugar from natural nut butters, jams, and grains.
- Do your best to avoid any sugary foods, especially if you have a sugar sensitive child that will reach for anything with sugar in it. All in all, get it out of sight and your kids have no other option but to snack on wholesome fruits and veggies.
- Replace processed maple syrup or agave nectar during breakfast with healthy sugar alternatives like Grape Nectar or whole foods like scrambled eggs or steel cut oats. Slowly replacing and incorporating whole, unprocessed foods will cause your child to like these more than the sugary items.
- Stop the effects of sugar on toddlers and teenagers before they happen! Start from the get-go with foods that do not contain excess sugars and your children won’t know what they’re missing.
- Provide your child with healthy food options, but let them explore what their friends are eating. Explain the benefits of eating healthy, like growing tall and strong. If you ban all sugary foods, most likely your children will only want to eat more of them.
- This is a tricky game so move slowly, because these things take time. And in the meantime, substitute cane sugar, honey, agave, syrups, and other sugars with Grape Nectar to reduce sugar content and calories from sugar.
Pull your Kids Sweet Tooth with these Simple Steps:
- Don’t let “sugar-free” labels deceive you - these often mean there are tons of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners instead of the real thing. Check out our blog post to learn more
- Avoid processed foods like cereals, chips, candy, flavored yogurts, etc
- Opt for plain flavors and add Grape Nectar as needed to sweeten it to your liking
- Eat smaller portion sizes - use a smaller bowl for pasta sauce and ice cream, add just a tiny bit of salad dressing or ketchup, etc
- Stop all soda and try sparkling water with a dash of Grape Nectar
- Look beyond the classic sugary foods at what foods sugar really hides in
- Make compromises with your children - ex: more TV time if they have frozen mango instead of oreos for dessert
The Lowdown on Sugar for Kids
When your children are eating so much sugar that they are becoming addicted and unhealthy from overconsumption, it’s time to make a change. Monitor your children’s food intake to ensure your kids eat only 10% of their daily calorie intake from sugar. Of this 10%, opt for naturally occurring sweeteners like Grape Nectar to maintain energy levels and provide nutrients/antioxidants as well. Domaine Santé provides a healthy sugar alternative that your kids will love!
Get your Grape Nectar today!
Check out The Sweeter Side for some nutritiously sweet recipes that are adult and kid-friendly!