When you are invited to a kid's birthday party, you don't think twice about the amount of sugar your child will eat. There's going to be a birthday cake and some sweets, sounds OK, doesn't it?
It was only after I grabbed some small bottle of juice for my thirsty daughter, that I realized, she was not excited only from all that jumping and running with her friends, but her hyperactivity might be the outcome of the food she ate.
Now, I am very conscious about the amount of sugar I eat and in this post I outline the reasons why added sugar is a no-no in a healthy diet. How come, then, that I don't apply the same strategies with my own kids on birthday parties? I must be a slow learner, really. Or I just don't want to be a party pooper, that's it!
Anyway, so I grab this juice and the amount of sugar stated on the bottle is 11 grams per bottle (200 ml). For a 4 to 6 year old, the amount of added sugar should not exceed 19 grams which is about 5 teaspoons. My 5 year old daughter drank almost 1 tablespoon of sugar just in one small bottle of juice!
Current evidence suggests that increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with overweight and obesity in children. Therefore, reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages would also reduce the risk of childhood overweight and obesity . More on childhood obesity can be found in this blog post.
But the impact of sugar does not end here. Although there is no conclusive research that links sugar to hyperactivity, sugar is almost always combined with artificial coloring, flavors and preservatives in foods targeted to kids. That is why your kid can be moody, cranky and just plain terrible on the way home from a birthday party.
Artificial Coloring have been linked to ADHD, anxiety, hyperactivity, and headaches in children. Artificial coloring is often hidden in unexpected foods such as bread and yogurt.
Preservatives, such as nitrates, nitrites, sodium benzoate and monosodium glutamate (MSG) may cause behavioral problems in children as well.
Tips To Bury the Sugar Monster
1. Start early: Research says that you have to offer a child new food 15 to 20 times until they eventually like it, so don't wait with offering broccoli and cabbage.
2. Water is always the best choice: Teach your child to drink water. Put lemon or fruit to water and always have a jar with water on the table.
3. Read the labels: In one small bottle of juice, you're feeding your kid one tablespoon of sugar. So always check the label when shopping
4. Don't panic: when my child is invited to a party, I always panic. How much sweets is she going to eat? It is always better to offer the child something filling (protein and fat) before going to the party.
5. Talk with your kids about nutrition: Kids are smart. Even a 4 year old understands that in order to be healthy and happy, she needs to eat healthy and colorful food. (real colors not artificial)