Have you ever tried to imagine how much sugar you or your children might actually be consuming in a day? I’m not talking about teaspoons in your tea or in the obvious cakes, biscuits and such like, but sugar that is hidden in the foods you’re eating. We’ve all heard things like “there’s more sugar in fruit juice than our daily allowance” or “more sugar in a yogurt than is in a packet of jelly babies”, but for some reason we just don’t really take it in do we? I’m guilty of this as much as anyone else. As strict as I am in the most part, I do allow my kids to have the odd fruit juice, I let them have raisins (after all they’re fruit aren’t they??) and the occasional bowl of my old nemesis, sugary cereal. For some reason we seem to forget just how much sugar is in these foods and the reasons why we don’t want to eat them, or let our kids eat them. Perhaps not any more…
We know that sugar is bad don’t we? If you do need a reminder, consider these tings. Sugar is highly addictive, it raises our blood sugar levels, which stimulates the release of insulin to remove the sugar from our bloodstream and use or store it. If this happens repeatedly our cells can eventually become resistant to insulin and we can develop conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes (among others). Excess sugar also makes us fat, it makes us wrinkly, it’s now being linked to poor brain health, premature ageing, cancer, erectile dysfunction, kidney disease, joint pain, arthritis, vascular disease, altered vision, Alzheimer’s… The list goes on, what more convincing do we need?
So last week I carried out a little experiment with some children in our local school to find out just how much sugar is in some of the common foods they might eat and I’d like to share some of the results with you. I hope you find them interesting and hopefully it might make you think twice about some of the foods you are your children are eating. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children eat no more than 4-6 teaspoons per day and adults eat no more than 8-10 teaspoons per day. The cup on the right of the photos contains the recommended 4 tsp a day for a child.
So, it’s pretty interesting seeing the sugar content of these individual items on their own isn’t it, but we don’t just eat one thing in a day do we? The next few photos shows you how much sugar is in a sample of a few foods put together. Utterly astounding, don’t you think and still not even a full days worth of food?
So, as I asked the kids, is it worth trying to swap some of our sugary snacks and foods for better alternatives? Every single child agreed that it is, so let’s help them do it. We should remind ourselves this: WE DO NOT NEED SUGAR. We can get all the carbohydrates we need from vegetables, fruits and grains.
Why not offer your little ones options like carrot, pepper or cucumber sticks with humous, sliced apple with nut butters, cherry tomatoes, boiled eggs, chicken drumsticks or even homemade, refined sugar free treats like the ones you can find on this blog. Let’s set them up for the future with good habits that will help to keep them fit and healthy and strong!!!! They might resist initially but they’re pretty good at adapting and if you give them a bit of information, they’re also pretty good and understanding.