This month is about limiting treats. Did you know that on average, kids are eating and drinking their weight in sugar every year? The Dietary Guideline for Americans 2010 stated that on average children are consuming 23 teaspoons of sugar a day which adds up to 78 pounds a year. That is a scary statistic seeing that sugar in excess can cause so many ailments; from the subtle (acne) to the life threatening (diabetes and heart disease). Our children’s bodies are not designed to handle this load of excess sugar.
You may think that your child does not eat anywhere near that amount of added sugar in a year but you may be surprised to find that they are eating more than you realize. Take some time to observe what your children are eating. Add up an average days amount starting with breakfast and finishing with their after dinner snack. Follow these steps:
1. Look at the labels of foods and beverages that your child commonly consumes and write down the amount of Sugar on the label that the product contains (if they eat or drink more than one serving multiply the grams of sugar by the number of servings).
3. At breakfast, don’t count the first 4oz of juice if your child is younger than 7 years of age and 8 ounces of juice if your child is 7 years or older. Beyond that count the grams of sugar; add to that the amount of sugar in their cereal, toaster cake or other breakfast item
4. Add up the grams of sugar in their morning snack. If they drink flavored milk, don’t count the first 12 grams of sugar in 8 ounces of milk as that is from lactose.
5. Add the grams of sugar from lunch; vegetables, fruit, and regular milk do not count towards their daily sugar intake. Count only those food or beverages that have a food label plus any sugar added to your child’s food.
6. Add the grams of sugar in their afternoon snack and beverage
7. Add the grams of sugar in any sauces, ketchup or other foods that have sugar added to them at dinner; marshmallows on potatoes etc…
8. Add the grams of sugar from any snack, dessert your child has before bed. This will give you their grand total for the day in grams of sugar. Multiply that number by 365 days of the year.
To figure out how to translate grams of sugar per year into something you and your child can understand compute the following:
Total grams of sugar per year divided by 4 = teaspoons per year
Teaspoons per year divided by 48 = cups of sugar per year
Once you figure out how many cups of sugar your child is consuming every year, show your child how much this is. This is an effective tool if you are having a hard to time convincing your child to switch from flavored milk to regular milk or to stop choosing the sugar loaded yogurts or any other sweet treat your child has trouble limiting. Calculate what this adds up to in a year from just that one food or drink and pour that amount of sugar into a glass or bowl to show them how much they are consuming. This exercise is sure to have an impact on them for years to come.
Totally forbidding your child sweet treats will probably backfire on you and cause your child to want more of them. Your goal is to limit the amount of sweet treats that your child eats to one a day. In reality some days they will have more and hopefully on some they will have less. Let me know what you found!