Boulder, CO (PRWEB) April 05, 2012
Why all the fuss over sugar?
Most of us, including our children, should be eating a lot less sugar. “Studies show that in the U.S. children eat two to four times as much as the recommended amounts,” explains Christina Schmidt, author of The Toddler Bistro: Child-Approved Recipes and Expert Nutrition Advice for the Toddler Years (Bull Publishing Company, ISBN: 978-1-933503-19-6, $16.95).
The World Health Organization, USDA and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advise that added sugars (other than from natural sources such as whole fruits) should account for 10% or less of daily energy intake. This equals about 6-18 teaspoons per day depending on daily calorie requirements. Children in the toddler age range of one to four years should be getting no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day.
“In a nation where diabetes and obesity are such prevalent issues, we need to learn how to skim some sugar from our diets. An overabundance of sugar leads to calorie overload and increases the risk for weight gain, obesity and chronic disease. It also displaces other more nutritious foods from our meals,” says Schmidt.
“A special occasion like Easter or birthdays may warrant a sweet treat,” continues Schmidt, “but we need to look beyond Easter sweets and realize the foods American families eat every day are hiding extra sugar. Lemonade, juices with only 10% real juice, sweetened cereals, baked goods, snack bars, pies and cakes all often land in toddlers’ daily meals.”
The most common sweeteners are sugar; high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, agave syrup, maple syrup, barley malt, honey and molasses. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are frequent ingredients in commercial baked goods, candies, snacks and beverages, making it easy to get too much.
To help scoop out some of that sugar, Schmidt put together a list of five ways to skim some of the sugar out of the family diet.
1. Skip the sweetened drinks
Read labels and you'll see high fructose corn syrup in about 60% of the sweetened beverages lining the store aisles. Choose milk, water, sparkling water with fresh fruit slices, or diluted 100% real fruit juice as alternatives.
2. Choose to be less refined
My favorite picks for moms and children are the darker, less refined sugars. Dark syrups such as Grade B maple syrup and blackstrap molasses contain more minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes than their more refined counterparts.
3. Don’t forget the honey
Dark honeys such as tupelo, buckwheat and even lighter clover honey are the best options (remember, no honey for children under one year). In addition to containing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, honey also has health-promoting antibacterial properties. Though honey has more calories than sugar, it is sweeter, so you need less of it.
4. Switch sugar for spice; adding fruit makes everything taste nice
Try adding sweet seasonings to foods such as allspice, cinnamon, mace, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, vanilla or peppermint instead of sugar. Broil, grill or stew fruits or add grated fruit or purees to dishes to solve the sugar craving.
5. A little candy is okay but keep it to one Peep!
One Easter peep contains four teaspoons of sugar, but there are five peeps in a package. If your toddler gobbles up the whole package, he will have eaten 16 teaspoons of sugar, nearly three times the daily recommendation! Check http://www.sugarstacks.com to see the number of sugar cubes in your favorite snacks and beverages. One cube of sugar equals one teaspoon.
Most importantly, remember serving less sugar doesn’t mean that the food you serve won’t be yummy. Toddlers don’t need to have sweeteners added to increase their food acceptance. “Try the unsweetened versions first and you may be surprised at what your child will eat,” adds Schmidt. Her book, The Toddler Bistro, is full of delicious Toddler-tested recipes that will help you scoop some of that sugar out of the family meals.