For most of us, we know our limits. Consuming non-processed and naturally sweet foods in small amounts here and there and enjoying sugar in special moments is perfectly fine. But just how much does that equate to when it comes to kids?
Despite our best efforts, it is so easy for kids to be consuming excess sugar without you even realising it. Marketing is getting smarter at fooling us into thinking we are picking the ‘healthiest’ option, when in fact the harsh reality is that it’s still full of sugar. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be mindful of your child’s sugar intake, as excessive consumption can lead to all kinds of health problems that appear in childhood, and will follow them into later life.
Sugar intake is something to especially aware of as you start introducing solid foods into your child's diet. Research shows that children who have been exposed to sweeter foods from an earlier age are more likely to have a taste preference for sweeter foods and are more likely to develop fussy eating and reject foods that are more bitter, such as vegetables.
I want you to remember when it comes to ‘recommendations’ they are a limit, not a target. No one needs sugar. You are not removing a crucial part of your child’s diet by limiting their sugar intake. We can get everything we need from a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruit, good quality protein, whole grains, legumes and fats. That being said, it’s not about complete deprivation either! For us, it is about healthy swaps and giving my children healthy alternatives.
Current Sugar Guidelines
The World Health Organisation recommends that ‘free’ sugars make up no more than 10% of daily kilojoule intake to prevent unhealthy weight gain and dental caries. Free sugars are sugars that are added to foods and drinks, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
For children under the age of 2, the advice is they consume no added sugar whatsoever.
As children get older, recommendations for the upper limit of added sugar intake can vary from 12.5-25g per day.
The World Health Organisation recommend no more than 25g per day for those 2 years and older.
4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon, so 25 grams of sugar is therefore equivalent to 6 teaspoons.
As I mentioned earlier, at Wholefood Healing we are firm believers in healthy swaps over deprivation. So to help you keep your child’s sugar intake to a minimum whilst still keeping them happy, we’ve shared some of our favourite healthy sugar swaps.
No matter how hard you try you will never be able to keep your child completely away from sugar. And I don’t think it's necessarily the worst thing in the world. You don’t want to turn them into wild sugar addicts whenever you turn your back because they feel so deprived! If you can get your kids to enjoy to naturally sweet foods like fruit, and give them occasional healthy treats at home, they won’t feel like they are missing out and their sugar ‘tolerance’ is going to be naturally lower.
Looking for some low sugar recipes to enjoy with your children? Why not try our delicious celebration cake. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free and can also be nut-free. Click here for the recipe.