Lollies. For most an agreed occasional party food. But how about hidden sugars in foods which have widely thought to be healthy options? And what can happen to my toddler if they eat too much sugar? How do I know what too much is? Sugar sugar sugar – it is often the elephant in the park when the snacks come out for morning tea. So why is sugar causing such a fuss?
sugar is bad, really?
Here are some reasons why we don’t want too much sugar in our diets:
- it can weaken the immune by providing food for unhealthy bacteria
- it can cause weakness and loss of energy through hypoglycaemia
- it can cause tooth decay
- it can contribute to obesity
- some studies have linked too much sugar to difficulty concentrating and unusual behaviours
- sugar in large amounts can cause diabetes
how sugar is too much?
The Australian Dietary Guidelines say that toddlers can have up to 10% of their daily energy from added sugar – which is about five teaspoons – but what I have found really important to understand is where the sugar is coming from and where I can make small changes to reduce the amount of sugar my toddler eats.
how to read sugar content on a food label
I try to stay away from packaged foods, but sometimes it can’t be helped. All food labels should give you the sugar content per 100g. A rule I follow is if the sugar content per 100g is more than 15g it is not a good option.
small changes to reduce your toddler’s sugar intake
- dilute fruit juice
My toddler loves fruit juice and does not drink enough water. I now add a small amount of apple juice to his water bottle. That way I’m sure he’s hydrated without the excess sugar. It would be better if I could eliminate the juice altogether – I’m working on it.
- replace dried fruit snacks
Sultanas, dates, apricots, while nutritious have a lot of sugar. In our house these have been replaced with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Also watch out for packaged fruit in syrup – the syrup is packed with sugar.
- be prepared for snack time
Snack times used to catch me out and I often reached for the nearest muesli bar, muffin or slice of banana bread which have all good a lot of sugar. I now try to prepare carrot and celery sticks with hummus and pita bread to have ready to go.
- change what’s on their toast
Honey and strawberry jam were quickly becoming the only two preferences for toast from my toddlers. Now cream cheese and peanut butter have been introduced to the menu and so far they’re winners.
This blog post was brought to you and your baby with love from Julia and the Itchy Baby Co. team X