Keeping your kids both happy and healthy means having lots of choices that they can choose from, while avoiding sugar substitutes. In addition, you’ll want to look at the nutrition facts labels to find how much sugar each of those products contains per serving. To determine if those are natural or added sugars, you’ll need to examine the list of ingredients and look for — in addition to sugar — corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, honey or molasses.
Even though it’s a no-brainer that soda is a no-no, including those sweetened artificially, it’s tough to come up with an alternative — especially when juice drinks contain the same amount of added sugar per serving as a can of pop. Fruit juice itself had no added sugars, but it contains plenty of calorie-adding natural sugars. Some kids go for the taste of tomato or vegetable juices. You might try encouraging kids to drink water by investing in a case of individual bottles they can grab from the refrigerator and carry around with them. You could also buy cool-looking sports mugs they can fill with water. Have skim milk available as an alternative. Kids can have fun making their own smoothies with low-fat yogurt; they can create their own and come up with different fruit combinations, like strawberry banana or blueberry pineapple.
Desserts and Snacks
Restricting the amount of sugar your child consumes does not necessarily mean having to say no to tasty desserts and snacks. Most prepared fat-free puddings or pudding mixes contain a minimum of sugar as do many frozen yogurt and frozen fruit bars. Use natural peanut butter or almond butter as a snack ingredient, spreading it on rice cakes or mini-bagels. Or you might spread peanut or almond butter on a tortilla, top it with some no-sugar-added jam and roll the tortilla up. For a crunchy treat, have sandwich bags on hand, filled with a combination of low-sugar cereals and tiny pretzels. Crushed corn flakes add a crunchy topping to a sundae that features strawberry no-sugar-added jam atop a scoop of frozen yogurt. You can also make pudding-wiches by sandwiching pudding between two graham crackers.
Fruits, whether used in the morning as a cereal topping, or as a part of a school lunch or as a dinner side dish adds a touch of welcome sweetness to kids’ meals. Some fruits contain more sugar than others. Berries, for example, are low in sugar — whether they be blueberries, blackberries or strawberries. Kids can eat these by the handful when they’re in season and may also like the frozen without sugar added option. Varieties of melon, such as watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, appeal to kids when cut into wedges or made into melon balls. Kids can enjoy apples and bananas, usually available year-round, by slicing them and using natural peanut butter or almond butter as a spread.