Question: "I have three school-aged children, and I find it hard to give them a healthy diet without lots of sugary snacks and drinks. What would you suggest are healthy ways of reducing a child’s sugar intake?"
Answer: There are number of things you can do to reduce the amount of added sugar your children are having each day. Follow the tips below to make small but worthwhile changes each day.
• Firstly, look at what your children are drinking. Water and milk (reduced-fat milk for those >2 years) are the best choices and should be offered first. To make water more appealing, try serving it in a jug and add slices of lemon and sprigs of fresh mint. You could also try adding fresh blueberries or strawberries. For school days, keep water cool by freezing drink bottles the night before they’re needed and simply take them out in the morning.
• Limit soft drinks, cordials and similar drinks to special occasions only. Energy drinks aren’t suitable for children. Fruit juice and flavoured milk can be enjoyed more regularly if they’re part of a healthy diet. However, it’s best to drink fruit juice with meals to reduce the negative effects on dental health or try diluting the juice with some water. The Vitamin C in juice also helps to absorb iron found in food.
• Look for lower sugar breakfast cereals. Ideally choose one with less than 15g of sugar per 100g. For cereals that contain dried fruit look for one with less than 25g per 100g.
• Look for lower sugar cereal/muesli bars. Look for a bar with less than 10g of sugar per bar. Remember, less is best!
• Choose healthier lunchbox and afterschool snacks. Good choices are things like:
o Fresh fruit
o Hard-boiled egg on toast
o Cheese on crackers
o Fruit toast/fruit bun
o Fruit pottles
o Mini pizzas made with English muffins.
A good way to encourage children to eat these healthier snacks is to get them involved in their preparation (i.e. slicing fruit, grating cheese, timing the egg). Simple things like chopping fruit to make it look more appealing is known to encourage children to eat it! Lollies and chocolate really are special occasion treats rather than something that should be eaten everyday by children.
• Bake your own goods. There are plenty of healthier recipes that use less sugar than some traditional recipes. Try healthier baked goods such as banana loaf, fruit truffles and fruit and nut slice. This will ensure your children don’t feel like they’re missing out.
|Emily is the Nutritionist at Healtheries. For more information about Healtheries, one of New Zealand's most trusted health brands, visit www.healtheries.co.nz or phone 0800 848 254.|