Dreaded Sugar! How Much is Too Much?

Banning sugar is unrealistic, but limiting it for your kids is not.

By FamilyTime


Our kids are bombarded with sugary foods. Ice cream, cereal, popsicles, cookies, sodas and lemonade....What’s a mother to do?


Stand firm, that’s what — without being too rigid. In other words, try to strike a balance but err on the side of your child's health.


Sugary Diets

As hard as it may be to believe, some studies show that children as young as seven months drink soda, which is nothing more than carbonated sugar water. From there it only gets worse as parents may feed their very young children sugar-laden treats (and salty foods) and neglect the important and nutritious vegetables and fruit.


It’s tough. Temptation is everywhere but as a rule, pediatricians advise against taking toddlers to fast-food restaurants, letting them eat much candy or drink soda.


Doing so is detrimental to strong dental health, for one thing, but it goes further. Because we are born with a natural sweet tooth, satisfying it can obscure the taste for healthful foods such as vegetables and sugar-free cereals. Even fruit.


Is Any Sugar Okay?

It’s unrealistic to forbid all sweets. Like adults, kids love them! They taste good and make us happy. But too much of anything is not healthful. Once kids develop a taste for sugary foods, some experts believe they will be less apt to try other, good-for-them foods.


As a rule, limit your toddler to one or two cookies, a scoop of ice cream, or one or two pieces of candy a day. (Note that we recommend one or another of these choices; never all three on any given day!) If you keep these restrictions in mind, you probably won’t exceed them too excessively.


Never offer soda to a toddler, but don’t be fooled by the fruit juices on the market, either. Many contain only a small percentage of actual juice. Look for pure fruit juice and even limit that. Fruit has sugar! Stick with milk when you can--or even water to hydrate little bodies. Consider watering down fruit juice when you offer it to children.

Instead of fruit juice, offer youngsters whole fruit. The naturally occurring fiber mitigates the onslaught of sugar into the system.


Your Child Will Thank You     

In most cases, restricting sweets is preferable to forbidding them. Every parent has to make up his or her own mind about how to deal with this issue, but with sugary treats everywhere we turn, it’s perhaps unrealistic to expect complete avoidance.


If you don’t make sweets a reward, if you keep your attitude about all food happy and casual, your toddler will be happy. Offer him a wide array of foods that includes protein, dairy (if he tolerates it), grain, and vegetables. In many instances, when he pleads for a treat, he will be just as happy with a graham cracker!