These days, kids (and adults!) eat all day. Not only is this bad for your general health – not to mention your waistline – but it does a ton of damage to your teeth.
On top of that, the food choices make it even worse.
You may be sick of hearing about what’s wrong with the food choices you are making, but think about it – if it’s being drilled into your head over and over there is probably a good reason! (And better to have it drilled into your head by your conscience than getting drilled into your teeth by a dentist.)
Today, I want to talk about snacks that I want you to avoid whenever possible. Next week, I’ll give you some healthy options to replace these not-so-healthy ones with.
When Snacks Attack!
Processed, sugary cereals are bad for your child’s health in so many ways. First, let’s talk about the recommended maximum daily intake of sugar for children.
Preschoolers should have no more than 4 teaspoons or 16 grams per day.
Kids aged 4-8 should have no more than 3 teaspoons or 12 grams per day.
Pre-teen and teenagers should have no more than 5-8 teaspoons or 20-32 grams.
Taking that into consideration, let’s talk about sugared cereal. One cup of a fruit loops cereal alone has 12 grams of sugar. Add in a cup of milk, which is another 13 grams, and you’ve given your child 2 days worth of sugar in 1 bowl!
I know, I know – your kid won’t eat plain cereal. Actually, studies show that they will!
In 2010, Yale researchers studied 91 kids. They were given low-sugar cereals and were able to add more sugar and fruit at their own discretion. When they did that, their cereal still had much less sugar than regular, sugary cereal! A lot of good habits can be established with healthy eating habit and training.
Want to try this at home? Choose a cereal that has no added sugar. Let your children add sugar or fruit to their liking. Even a whole teaspoon of sugar is only 4 grams – so much better! And they will love that they get to add their own sugar.
When you eat crackers, do you notice that the crumbs stick in the grooves of your teeth? It won’t simply be washed away by water or saliva – you need to brush to get rid of it. Otherwise, it will stay in between your teeth and in the grooves for, well, as long as you wait!
Crackers and starches, like potato chips and pretzels, can be worse than some candy because even if the crackers don’t contain much sugar, they stick to the teeth and do much more damage.
Even chocolate, the classically feared tooth-destroyer, actually melts away and is gone quickly.
Dried fruit offers similar problems. Many people think they have great nutritional value but really it’s just a high-concentration of sugar in a sticky substance that will stay stuck to your teeth just like crackers!
Unfortunately, many parents think that fruit juice is healthy. This is just not the case! For instance, take any brand of 100% apple juice – even an 8oz glass of this no-sugar-added drink has a whopping 26 grams of sugar! Yikes!
Grape juice is the worst offender, with more than 58 grams of sugar in a 12oz glass – even if you make it yourself!
This is why, in general, I don’t recommend fruit juice. Both of the examples I gave you are made with real fruit and no additional sugar added – and they still are jam-packed! (No pun intended….)
Why Do Companies Add Sugar to Food?
Actually, there is no good reason for adding sugar to processed (or unprocessed) foods. More sugar means more sales. But our bodies just don’t need it. In fact, they don’t deserve it! Treat your kids with healthy snacks and they will be that much healthier and happier in the long run.
Next week, I’ll give you some examples of quick, easy, and healthy snacks that will be great replacement options for you and your kids- especially important with the end of the school year approaching.
~Dr. Rhea Haugseth