You’re probably a health-conscious parent who makes sure your kid doesn’t eat too much candy or drink too many sugar sodas. Cutting out these obvious sources of sugar is a great way to make sure your kids are eating healthy, but it doesn’t address all the sugar calories your kid is likely consuming. Sugar is highly addictive and there are many different kinds of sugar added or naturally occurring in many different types of food. While we can’t cut out all sugar from our kid’s diets, we certainly want to limit it to the best and most natural sources. Here are some less obvious ways your kids get sugar.
Milk naturally contains lactose sugars, so adding flavors and sweeteners can increase the amount of sugar quickly. Instead of buying fruity yogurt, look for a plain or vanilla yogurt with live bacteria cultures and mix in your own berries or bananas. Swirling a local honey in yogurt is also a great way to help kids have a little sweet and get a dose of local pollen to help prevent some allergies. A sweet treat with health benefits is far better for everyone.
Low Fat Foods
Eating foods that are low fat is less healthy than it sounds. The fat content, which made the original version tasty, has almost always been replaced by sugar in the low fat version. Many naturally-occurring fats are healthy and far better for your little one than sugar. Opt for foods with naturally occurring fats and no added sugar. One kid favorite is peanut butter. Choose one made from just peanuts and salt instead of traditional peanut butters that contain not only sugar, but corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and other ingredients.
All those attractive and colorful foods your child likes to pull off the shelf at the grocery store are probably full of sugar, so be sure to read the labels. Children’s cereal, pre-packaged fruit, flavored drinks including sports drinks, juice, and fruit leathers are all incredibly attractive to children with their bright colors and sweet flavors and many varieties are full of sugar. Instead, feed your kids fresh or fresh frozen fruit. There’s still some sugar in it, so they’ll get their sweet fix, but it will be coupled with good nutrients, anti-oxidants, and fiber.
Condiments & Dressing
If your kid likes to put ketchup or mayonnaise on everything, make sure to buy a variety made without sugar. The same goes for salad dressing, which often has healthier versions available. Many condiments are easy to make at home, especially dressings, mayonnaise, and ketchup, and then you know exactly what went into them. If your kids can’t eat their veggies without dipping them in ranch, at least you know you made a version with yogurt and spices that tastes great without loading them up on sugar.
Dried and candied fruits like raisins, dates, and cranberries are loaded with sugar. So while they may seem a healthy way to add some flavor to a salad or quick and easy snack, remember they have a high sugar content. Instead, add a small handful of nuts or slice some fresh fruit onto your salad for the same sweet zing with much less sugar.