In the USA, the month of September generally means back to school for kids and the month of October kicks off the fall sugars holidays like Halloween. The consumption of excess sugar has become a serious health problem in the USA.
Studies around the world have shown that high intakes of sweets have been linked to a variety of diseases and negative health issues in children and adults. These health issues from excess sweets range from cavities in teeth, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity , type 2 diabetes, to even problems in the brain. Researchers at California’s Salk Institute noticed that high sugary beverage intake contributed to high blood glucose levels which eventually damaged cells throughout the body and particularly the brain. Excess consumption of sweets can leach calcium out of bones and promote calcium loss which can negatively impact a child’s growth and lead to a number of other diseases, even for adults.
Some researchers reported that the USA’s national sweets consumption twenty years ago was about 26 pounds of sugar per person per year and that in recent years it has increased to average consumption of over 100 pounds of sugar—per person/per year.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends Americans limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their daily calorie needs. That’s about 12 teaspoons (48 grams of sugar) on a 2,000-calorie diet. But for kids —
especially young children, who may only need 1,200 to 1,400 calories per day.
Some effective habits are to focus on a healthy balance of physical activity and the focus of heritage foods that can benefit your personal health and body needs. Encourage positive balance, quality, freshness and appropriate personal portion sizes of heritage foods from each food group.
If you feel you must have a sugars y treat- try to have it only at a few special occasions in the year and reduce the added sugars in the recipe to help limit excess sugar.
Here are some more helpful tips:
1. Consume adequate servings of unsweetened milk (nondairy or dairy) on a daily basis and choose unsweetened milk (non-dairy or dairy) instead of juice or soda.
2. Caution with Yogurt-It is a common source of a high amount of sugars and added sugar. For people who eat yogurt, it is best to only choose plain unsweetened yogurt.
3. Never use sweet foods or sweets as a reward for children, pre-teens or teens.
4. Read Food Labels to look for the total amount of sugar and choose brands with little to no added sugars.
5. Instead of foods with added sweets, look for naturally sweet foods to snack on like whole fruits and vegetables (ie carrots, sugar snap peas, jicama).
6. Choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
7. Choose low sugar fresh or frozen Fruits- like Guava, papaya, pineapple, cranberries, black berries. Avoid frozen foods that contain added sugar, syrups or sweeteners.
8. Avoid Canned fruits that contain syrup, added sugar, honey etc. They can turn a low sugar fruit into high sugars. Some canned fruit packed in water or fruit juice might be ok- but drain the juice out.
9. When it comes to beverages, choose water and low sugar milk. Try to avoid beverages such as soft drinks, soda, fruit juices, juice cocktails, and pre-sweetened teas.
10. CEREAL- Aim to purchase cereal products that have less than 10 grams of total sugars. Or to help kids lower their current sugary cereal- mix 1 box of sugar cereal they like with an equal amount of a low sugar cereal.
11. Try stevia natural plant sweetener instead of granulated sugar in baking, teas, coffee, etc .
12. Instead of 1 cup of 100% fruit juice (like orange juice) try 1 cup of Goya® Guava Coconut Water or Mango Coconut water. It naturally has ½ the calories and sugar and less acid , with no artifi cial sweeteners.
13. Make smoothies only with milk and fresh/frozen fruit, instead of juice, yogurt or ice cream.
14. To add flavor to recipes add more vanilla or spices.