Ask a Doc: Why you should avoid excess sugar in your kid's diet and how to do it

Ask a Doc: Why you should avoid excess sugar in your kid's diet and how to do it

Wellness

Ask a Doc: Why you should avoid excess sugar in your kid's diet and how to do it

Excess sugar in our food is a big problem.

Kids are particularly susceptible as many foods marketed for children are high in sugar.  Even foods that you would not expect like baked beans, low fat yogurt, salad dressing, store-bought sauces and soups are high in added sugar.

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A major cause of childhood obesity

Too much sugar in a child’s diet is one of the major contributors to childhood obesity which can lead to premature diabetes and heart disease.

Studies have shown that reducing sugar content from 28 to 10 percent of total calories in children can help them lose weight and have a significant impact on their cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

In addition to these benefits, recent studies have shown that reducing refined carbohydrates (added sugar) and replacing them with whole fruits and vegetables led to fewer emotional problems, better relationships with other children and improved self-esteem.

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Start reading nutrition labels

As a rule, avoid processed foods wherever possible and look at labels.

There is a new section on food labels, “Added Sugar,” that identifies sugar added to foods.  It is also important to recognize other words used for sugar such as fructose, brown rice syrup, lactose, maltose, dextrose and evaporated cane juice or malt syrup. 

Replace sugary processed foods with whole fruits and vegetables.  For example, use bananas and grapes instead of sugar for baking or making a blended smoothie with avocados, bananas, berries and unsweetened almond milk instead of a sugary beverage.

Tip: Always add good fats to vegetables to make them tastier for kids and to help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

Try this instead of that…

One of my favorites is broccoli plunged into boiling water for 3 minutes then dipped in a homemade sauce of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and vinegar.  Instead of processed peanut butter, try almond butter and mix it with some raw honey and cinnamon.

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Remember that sugar should be no more than 10 to 15 percent of calories for children.  The rest should come from healthy fats like avocados or nut butters and healthy proteins like salmon, nuts, and plain Greek yogurt.

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