Are you worried about how much sugar your family, and in particular, your child is consuming? In this article Fiona Montague, a qualified Health & Nutrition Coach, explains sugar nutrition facts and tells us about sugar and how it affects our children. Do you know how much sugar per day you are consuming?
How Much Sugar Are We Really Consuming?
A recent Which? consumer study revealed that “cereals aimed at children are high in sugar with the exception of Rice Krispies” and over 3/4 of the cereals targeted at children have higher than the recommended levels of sugar! But is sugar all that bad? In short, yes.
What most people don’t know about sugar is it is an anti-nutrient. Apart from the fact that it is devoid of vitamins and minerals, so therefore offers no nutritional value, overconsumption of sugar causes the body to use up its own supplies of vitamins and minerals. And all sugars, even natural ones, appear to compete with Vitamin C. Without adequate amounts of Vitamin C, the immune system becomes severely affected.
Related: Eats, Treats and Labels
Apart from the effect it has on our vitamin and mineral store, how does sugar affect our children’s moods, concentration or energy?
Sugar is fast releasing and therefore causes a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, causing the “bouncing off the walls” effect! Once the sugar starts to wear off, they become irritable, tired and concentration is at its lowest because their blood sugar levels have dropped and they are looking for their next sugary fix, the same way adults reach for a coffee, coke or chocolate to give them boost to get them through the morning or afternoon slump.
With obesity now the largest preventable cause of premature death, and a contributory factor in the development of a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, we can no longer ignore the amount of hidden sugars we are consuming each day.
What can I do as a parent?
- For a healthy breakfast, try starting the day with porridge. Try mixing some berries & ground nuts / seeds or a sprinkling of cinnamon and some grated apple to jazz it up. Porridge is a slow releasing carb, so you won’t get your mid-morning dip like you do with other breakfast cereals.
- Another healthy alternative is an egg and wholegrain toast.
- If you must have cereal in the morning, check “of which sugars” on the label, anything over 10g per 100g is a lot of sugar. Most cereal manufacturers suggest an average serving is 30g but this is tiny!
- Try measuring what you normally eat to see how much sugar you are actually consuming. Every 4g of sugar equals one teaspoon!
Fiona Montague is a qualified Health & Nutrition Coach and promoter of the Zest4Life program for weight loss. You can find out more about Fiona by visiting her site www.healthandnutrition.ie
What are your thoughts on sugar? Tell us in the comments below.