Hello, beautiful parents and thank you for stopping by.
I really love having the opportunity to serve you and this article has been created because of the large demand I’ve received from loving parents who want to know more about sugar-free living for their children.
Sugar-free living to me means raising your children without added sugar in their diet.
It’s becoming pretty well-known that excess sugar in mass quantities may cause some side-effects to not only our own health but the health of our young children. Our toddlers even.
Some of the side effects and high risk of excess sugar for our children are as follows:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Cognitive difficulty
- Acid reflux
- Constant cough
- Lower immunity
Before you read any further just know that I am coming from a loving place and a big heart that wants to help – I am not a professional medical doctor or medical researcher. I am a passionate health strategist that absolutely cares about providing you with all the facts.
So what does mass quantities of sugar really mean?
First of all, did you know that the recommended maximum amount of sugar suggested for young children and toddlers is 25g. That’s about 6 teaspoons. So that means, 4g of sugar per serving is 1 teaspoon. That makes it too easy to hit the maximum amount everyday. Wouldn’t you agree?
And it really is that easy – If all you did is check the back of your fruit juice or child’s favorite muesli bar or yogurt you could see that your child is consuming about 2 teaspoon of sugar per snack. And that’s just the snacks!
I‘ve only just mentioned products that one may count as “healthy” and still it’s loaded with sugar. Imagine looking at the labels of their favorite ice-cream, sugary cereals, flavoured milk, chocolates, cakes, cookies, etc. I am getting a sugar-loaded headache just thinking about it all.
The overall outcome of this article is to help you become aware of the real situation. And that is that sugar is in almost everything.
So what does that really mean?
It means we need to learn the difference between refined sugar, unrefined sugar, and sugar found naturally in plants.
The difference between refined sugar and unrefined (less-bad) sugar.
When we refer to refined sugar we are talking about mass produced sugar that has gone through a refined and chemical process that strips the food of its natural nutrients.
Such sugars can be found under the name of cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice, regular honey, fruit purée, flavoured applesauce, tapioca syrup, fruit concentrate, corn syrup, malt syrup, and agave nectar etc.
Unrefined sugar is naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods with minimal processing so the food itself should still has intact its nutrients. Common unrefined (less-bad) sugars include fresh dates, pure raw honey straight from the hive, pure Canadian graded maple syrup, fresh fruit, pure coconut sugar/syrup, and molasses.
The reason I refer to unrefined sugar as (less-bad) is because in essence it’s still sugar. And our bodies will digest it pretty much the same as if it was refined sugar. The benefit though is it is a more natural and less chemically processed choice with some nutritional benefit. Unrefined sugar still falls in the 25g recommended serving allowance.
Sugar found naturally in plant foods such as fruits and vegetables does not count towards the 25g of sugar recommended allowance. Purely because consumption of fruit and vegetables is not associated with any adverse health effects. This is due to the large amount of fibre found in plants.
How to calculate fair portion control for yourself and toddler
If 4g of sugar equates to one teaspoon, then this is how you could calculate the amount of sugar in your child’s diet to date.
If the nutrition label you’re reading says 8g of sugar per serve, that equates to 2 teaspoons worth of sugar in that serving. I simple divided 8g of sugar by 4g of sugar, which is 1 teaspoon to work out it equals 2 teaspoons.
Another example could be your fruit juice, and it says it contains 27g of sugar per 240 mls. The math would then be 27g of sugar/4g = 6.75 teaspoons of sugar per 240 mls of fruit juice.
Therefore if you want your toddler consuming only an equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar you would give them about ¼ cup of fruit juice (which is about 60 mls) and fill the rest with pure water or plain soda water. Still a delicious treat – just enjoyed in moderation.
Wondering how much sugar is in your child’s favorite cereal – then this is how you would calculate it.
Cap‘n Crunch example:
1 cup serving is 38g
There is 17g of sugar per 38g serve
17/4 = 4 ¼ teaspoons of sugar per serving of cereal – (I divided it by 4 because that is how many grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon.)
Plus 1 cup whole organic milk is 12g of sugar, about 3 teaspoons of sugar.
Your child’s breakfast just came up to a total of 7 teaspoons of sugar. That’s already over the safety recommended amount of 6 teaspoons per day – It’s crazy, right?!
Now that you understand how to calculate the amount of sugar in your child’s favorite foods, how can you go about making the change?
What would by my suggestions be?
- I would educate and communicate to my child about sugar – this part is of course optional. I believe teaching them about the challenges with mass quantities of sugar will help them understand your new approach.
- I would giveaway or throw away all sugar-rich products in my household. At the very least hide the products. Out of sight out of mind.
- I would replace everything with healthier lower sugar and natural alternatives. Kids generally will eat whatever you put in front of them or leave in the cupboards.
- I would also consume the same delicious food I would want my child to eat and really enjoy it so that my child models me and can see I am really enjoying the change. – creating rapport with your child
- I would also remind myself of the negative outcomes that sugar may cause my child if we continue to live with unhealthy habits. This would remind me of why It’s a good idea when I get questioned.
- I would believe in moderate amounts of treats outside of home such as birthday parties or special occasions to show my child it’s about moderation and on special occasions not deprivation.
Some of my favorite and highly recommended food swaps:
A full cup of 100% pure fruit juice – for cold water with only 25% of the cup filled with fruit juice
Peanut butter – for 100% raw almond butter
Canned/ Dried fruit – for fresh whole fruit such as mandarins, bananas, apples, berries.
Muesli bars – for raw nuts or homemade trail mix
Sugary cereal – for warm oats with frozen berries or overnight oats
Sugary yogurt – for unsweetened yogurt
Sugary drinks – for unsweetened milk and pure water
Store bought baked goods – for homemade lowered sugar treats
Store bought bread – for sprouted grain bread (check for no-added sugar)
Store bought jams – homemade full fruit spreads
Bread and jam – for almond butter on brown rice cakes
Store bought biscuits – for homemade refined sugar free cookies
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich – almond butter and sliced strawberries on a sprouted grain wrap
Crisps – for natural 100% popped corn.
Healthy kids treat alternatives:
Celery sticks stuffed with Almond butter
Carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus
Fresh berries with unsweetened coconut yogurt or coconut milk
Homemade trail mix (raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, cacao nibs, unsweetened coconut flakes, dried goji berries)
Toasted organic seaweed SEASNAX
Fresh organic popcorn
Homemade Kale chips
Toasted pumpkin seeds with smoked paprika and garlic powder
Organic roasted soybeans
Roasted Green beans (roast in the oven with sea salt and olive oil)
Homemade chocolate shake (unsweetened coconut milk, ¼ frozen banana, vanilla stevia drops, and raw cacao powder)
“Ice-cream” alternative (150 mls unsweetened coconut milk, 30g frozen mango, 30g frozen banana, 30g avocado, 140g ice – blend into your nutribullet to make)
Healthy Sugar Alternatives:
Fresh Dates – fresh dates are a popular alternative in baking and sugar substitutes. Fresh dates comes with added fibre that helps release sugar slower into your child’s bloodstream. If fresh dates become too expensive opt for dried ones as an alternative.
Fresh fruit – The reason I love baking with fresh fruit is because it’s the closest thing to nature I could think of. Using bananas in recipes also keeps lots of the fibre in the recipe, which is better for a slower release of sugar.
Raw unpasteurised honey from hives – Raw honey means it was collected, filtered and bottled without any heating. Avoid buying honey in stores as it’s honesty as bad as sugar. And of course, one should always consume in moderation as it still contains large amounts of natural sugar.
Maple Syrup – Pure Canadian maple syrup is worth all the investment in your own health and the health of your children and toddlers. Using pure maple syrup to make that occasional treat would be my suggestion when looking to reduce your child’s sugar consumption. Beware of imitations.
Stevia Extract – Stevia has zero glymetric effect on your child’s health and is used in a lot of recipes along with fruit. You can add stevia extract to homemade chocolate milk on unsweetened almond milk, raw cacao powder, and stevia extract. Stevia extract maybe added into smoothies and other baking recipes. Look for the extract variation as there are a lot of products that have been cut with Eryrthirtol.
Monk Fruit Extract – Just like stevia extract it can be used exactly the same and has zero calories and zero effect on your blood sugar. You can use it on it own in baking or added to anything you would like to have sweetened.
Here are some amazing resources for lower sugar desserts and treats:
- Get really clear with yourself and with your significant other if applicable, why it’s important to reduce your loved child’s sugar consumption. Make a list of everything it has caused the child pain in.
- Educate your child on how sugar is costing them what they really want most of- get rapport first.
- Communicate and let them know that you will be replacing the normal household snacks with more delicious one’s instead that will help them get what they want most.
- Get rid of everything that is laced with sugar in your household – give it away or throw it out and if you absolutely must keep hold of the product, hide it very well.
- Replace your cupboards with delicious low-sugar to sugar free foods.
- Consume the products with and around the children- be the model first and they may have a better time following you.
- Condition the child that eating this food is delicious and your proud of them.