LIM­IT­ING SUGAR CON­SUMP­TION

Lau­ren Panoff MPH, RD Shares How to Help Your Tod­dler's Diet

Raise Vegan - - Contents -

A2018 study found that tod­dlers be­tween the ages of 19- 23 months in the United States are con­sum­ing more than seven tea­spoons of sugar per day. It also found that nearly two- thirds of chil­dren be­gin eat­ing sugar be­fore their first birth­day ( 1). Yikes.

Reg­u­larly con­sum­ing sugar can al­ter t aste pref­er­ences and, ul­ti­mately, im­pact over­all eat­ing habits as chil­dren grow up. In ad­di­tion, sugar doesn't of­fer any nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits. It is known to in­crease the risk of cav­i­ties, obe­sity and re­lated con­di­tions, such as type 2 di­a­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. For tod­dlers, the daily rec­om­mended limit of sugar is six tea­spoons or less per day, though re­search shows that most peo­ple - adults and kids - con­sume much more than this ( 2).

It's im­por­tant to note that the sugar found in store- bought, pro­cessed foods is not the same as the sugar nat­u­rally found in f ruits and veg­eta­bles. The for­mer is re­fined and added to prod­ucts solely to sweeten them, while the lat­ter is a nat­u­rally- oc­cur­ring com­pound that is housed in pro­duce along­side im­por­tant nu­tri­ents like fiber, an­tiox­i­dants, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that are vi­tal to our health. The best way to re­duce the amount of re­fined sug­ars your child con­sumes is to choose whole, mini- Th­ese are some hid­den sources of sugar that may be lurk­ing in your tod­dler's diet: • Gra­nola or snack bars

• Yo­gurt

• Fruit juices

• Condi­ments

• Fla­vored oat­meal pack­ets • Ce­re­als

• Pack­aged crack­ers and breads • Frozen waf­fles

• Some canned goods • Sweet­ened plant milk va­ri­eties

mally- pro­cessed plant- based foods as much as pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, tod­dlers should be reg­u­larly ex­posed to fruits and veg­eta­bles in their whole form - raw, cooked, pureed or in smooth­ies - whole grains, nuts and seeds - and their but­ters - and legumes. Rather than sip­ping juice or other sweet­ened bev­er­ages, make wa­ter a pri­or­ity in the house­hold. Rather than stock­ing your pantry with pre- made condi­ments that are of­ten loaded with sugar, try mak­ing home­made dips and sauces when­ever pos­si­ble. Read la­bels on all pack­aged and canned foods.

Teach your kids why some foods are health­ier t han ot hers and di s c uss why your fam­ily chooses to save its con­sump­tion of sug­ary foods for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. It helps to lead by ex­am­ple and not make high sugar items reg­u­larly avail­able in the home. Most im­por­tantly, talk to your kids about nu­tri­tion. Through prac­tice and un­der­stand­ing, they can be em­pow­ered to make their own health­ful choices from early on - and that is some­thing that will serve them for life. ◆

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