A lot of questions are always been asked about sugar, am sure you have asked one or two yourself
Like when should I introduce sugar to my baby?
How much sugar should I give?
Is sugar really bad for my baby’s health?
Is it true sugar does make my child hyperactive?
Is sugar really a poison, or just a harmless part of childhood?
SUGAR AND YOUR CHILD’S HEALTH
Our kids are exposed to sugar from a very tender age. From infant cereals and milks, to breakfast cereals, fruit juices and drinks, cakes, chocolates and biscuits, all these contain too much sugar, much more than is needed by our kids. Even breast milk taste so sweet…little wonders babies never want to let go.
Sugar can be healthful in some ways. It supplies a quick bust of energy in times when the blood sugar levels are low. Also the brain cannot function without sugar. When the sugar level in the brain is low, it could lead to dizziness and cause one to black out.
Sugar has been found to be addictive. Eating high sugar foods early on makes kids crave for more later, leading to a never ending cycle. Too much sugar also weakens your child’s immune system and causes cold-like symptoms so your child easily comes down with cold, cough and allergies.
Excess sugar can lead to
CAVITIES: Sugar causes cavities by fueling the growth of bacteria that causes it. Even with regular tooth brushing which help prevent cavities, a steady stream of sugar in the mouth increases their likelihood.
BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS: Sugar has also been linked with behavioral problems in children. Too much sugar entering the bloodstream lead to a large amount of insulin been produced which sweeps the sugar out of the blood into the body cells, providing so much energy that makes your kids suddenly active. This movement of sugar from the blood to the body cells causes a low blood sugar level which makes your child dull and sluggish, thereby craving for more sweets/ sugar ( remember its addictive) thereby creating a vicious cycle of sugar highs and lows.
OBESITY: Children gain too much weight when they take in more calories than they burn. Unfortunately sugary drinks and treats supply calories above and beyond what kids needs to satisfy hunger. Consuming these on a daily basis definitely tends towards obesity.
DIABETES: A high sugar diet can increase your child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes or the pre-diabetic condition known as insulin resistance syndrome. Both can result when the body becomes less sensitive to insulin and are associated with a variety of serious health problems in later life like heart diseases and infertility. A high sugar diet may increase the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome by contributing to obesity and overworking the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin.
AM SURE WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION, YOU ARE WONDERING WHAT EXACTLY IS THE RECOMMENDED/ ACCEPTABLE SUGAR INTAKE FOR YOUR CHILD? ACCORDING TO HEALTH EXPERTS, THE RECOMMENDED SUGAR INTAKE FOR A
– Preschoolers: about 4 teaspoon daily
– Children 4 -8 years: about 3 teaspoon daily
– Pre – teens and teenagers: 5 – 8 teaspoons daily.
IF YOUR CHILD’S INTAKE IS WAY HIGHER THAN THE RECOMMENDED, HERE ARE TIPS TO HELP YOU REDUCE YOUR CHILD’S SUGAR INTAKE.
FOR Babies below one year –
• Try as much as possible to delay the introduction of sugar to complementary foods. Instead, use fresh fruits and dates to sweeten it. The truth is that if you don’t include it, your child won’t get addicted to it and desire it or reject foods without it.
Above one year –
• Reduce the amount of sugar your child gets at one sitting or per meal. Control portion sizes of foods with too much sugar, for example cakes and cookies. Also dilute fruit juices and choose low sugar treats instead. Instead of sweetened yoghurts, offer the unsweetened or plain one.
Ensure your child eats something healthier with sweet things like protein ( meat, nuts or cheese) and fibers ( fruits, vegetables, whole grains) that help slow the rise and fall of blood sugar levels.
As much as possible, refrain from putting sugary fruit drinks and juice in your child’s lunch bag. Instead serve fruits and water and train your child to desire them.
Learn to shop wisely. Look out for other names of sugar on food items- sucrose, dextrose, glucose, maltose, fructose and high fructose syrups.
As much as possible, reduce the amount of processed foods consumed daily. These are loaded with too much sugar. The more processed a food item is, the more sugar it contains. A can of coke contains about 6 teaspoons of sugar which is more than the recommended intake for your child.
Make it a goal to offer sweet treats once a week. Sweets, chocolates candies and biscuits do not have to be an everyday affair.
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