Every parent wants their kids to be happy and healthy. For most of us, this means balancing what they want with what we know is best for them. But that’s easier said than done, especially when it comes to their diets. Because not only are a lot of kids picky eaters – sometimes saying “no” to a candy bar means a tantrum or argument.
Unfortunately new research suggests that the health risks of sugar might be worse than we thought. Sugar-rich diets increase the risk of childhood obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and too much sugar can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. That’s why the American Heart Association now recommends that children consume less than 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugars per day.
Anyone who’s recently read the label on a can of soda knows that even drinking one 12-ounce can would exceed 25 grams. So what’s a parent to do? Of course we encourage replacing sugary snacks with healthy alternatives, but it’s important to know how much sugar is in the snacks kids love to eat. Even gummy vitamins contain 1-2 grams of sugar, so it’ll add up quickly!
How much sugar is in kid’s drinks?
Kool-Aid (8 ounces) = 4 grams
Capri Sun (1 pouch) = 18 grams
Orange Juice (8 ounces) = 21 grams
Apple Juice (8 ounces) = 26 grams
Sprite (12 ounces) = 31 grams
Chocolate Milk (12 ounces) = 33 grams
Coca-Cola (12 ounces) = 39 grams
Mountain Dew (12 ounces) = 46 grams
How much sugar is in kid’s snacks?
Cheerios (1 cup) = 1 gram
Ketchup (1 tablespoon) = 3.7 grams
Graham Cracker (1 rectangular piece) = 4.4 grams
Cheetos (small bag) = 5 grams
Chocolate Chip Cookies (4 cookies) = 9 grams
Nutri-Grain (1 bar) = 13 grams
Pop-Tarts (1 pastry) = 17 grams
Health Alternatives to Sugary Snacks
If you’re looking to cut down on your child’s sugar intake, we’ve heard a lot of parents secretly dilute the sodas they give their kids! But if you’ve got yourself a kid with a serious sweet tooth, try some of these alternatives and see what they think!
Cheese: Every 100 grams of cheese contains only about 2.3 grams of sugar. Not only that, but cheese is packed with protein and healthy fats that, when eaten in small amounts, are perfectly healthy to eat!
White Milk: 8 ounces of white milk does contain about 12 grams of sugar. If your child is obsessed with chocolate milk, try using less chocolate powder or syrup over time and getting them used to drinking whole milk. Like cheese, it contains healthy proteins and fats that an active person needs.
Peanut Butter: We’re not going to lie and say that peanut butter is the healthiest food out there. But it is sweet and it’s only got about 3 grams of sugar in a typical serving of 2 tablespoons. Try spreading some peanut butter on a celery stick, adding 2-3 raisins on top and telling your child it’s called ants on a log!
Fruit: There has been a lot of talk recently about sugar in fruit. And though it’s true that unhealthy sugars exist in dried fruit or fruit juice, whole fruit such as apples and bananas still contain a great amount of fiber and water – which means more hydrated kids with healthier digestive systems.
Goldfish: Apparently the song is true. Goldfish have an impressively low amount of sugar per serving – 0 grams for every 55 pieces! So if your kid loves to gobble up these cheesy fish-shaped crackers, it’s probably the most okay snack they can have every day.
Raising a child is hard work! And sometimes we’re just happy that they’re eating anything at all. But if you want your kid to grow up strong and healthy, limiting their sugar intake will increase their quality of life and even help them focus better in school.
So encourage healthy eating! And try to talk to them about the negative health effects of sugar, like gaining weight, losing their permanent teeth and feeling bad or sick when they are older.