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What to teach your kids about sugar

What to teach your kids about sugar

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Why encouraging your child to learn about sugar may be one of the best health lessons you can give them.

You may have missed the news but as a nation we’re eating less sugar. Yes, it’s official! 

And the best thing about this news is that we’re cutting out the added sugar found in cakes, lollies, biscuits and soft drinks and not cutting out fruit (which has naturally occurring sugars) which is great for our health.

We know that sugar tastes delicious but doesn’t contain any healthy nutrients that their growing bodies need. 

And while it’s natural for us all to crave a little sweetness, children especially delight in eating sweet things - meaning you can often have a battle on your hands. 

So, as parents, how can you encourage them to keep sugary foods and drinks to a minimum?

Start by setting an example for your kids

Make it clear by your actions that sugary treats are a sometimes food and you feel better when you don’t eat too much of it. 

When you do feel like a sweet treat, choose a banana or some grapes and encourage your children to join you. Teach them by your actions that fruit is the perfect choice for dessert. 

Lead by example and only indulge in the occasional sweet treat on weekends or special occasions. 

Try out the 80/20 rule, which can translate into sugar-free weekdays and a special treat or two on the weekends.

Tell them how it affects our minds and bodies

Children are more aware of what is and isn’t healthy these days, thanks to school programs and media coverage. 

Keep it simple – explain to them that when they eat too much sugar, their bodies have to work overtime, which can make them feel tired and grumpy. 

Nature gave us sugar in the form of fruit

Bananas, grapes, watermelon and berries are sweet enough to satisfy a sugar craving. 

Keep a large bowl of washed fruit in clear view on the kitchen bench or dining table and encourage them to help themselves. 

Use fruit to flavour their morning yoghurt, pop a banana or an apple in their lunchbox, and offer them a bowl of ice-cold grapes to cool them down on a hot day.

How much sugar is too much?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) children should be eating no more than 10% of their total energy intake as free sugars

Free sugars are simple sugars (glucose, fructose, and sucrose) added to foods- manufactured foods, in cooking and sugar naturally occurring in honey and fruit juice.

The WHO guideline does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.

Having a little bit of sugar isn’t the end of the world but helping your children to set healthy habits early in life will ensure you’re giving them the best chance to grow up as healthy Well Beings.