LIMITING SUGAR CONSUMPTION
Lauren Panoff MPH, RD Shares How to Help Your Toddler's Diet
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
• Fruit juices
• 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. ◆