It is not easy being a nutritionist. Some people think you shouldn’t eat any sugar and tell you so when you have pudding at a dinner party and some people will try and secretly eat away from you. I am not anti sugar though!
When cane sugar become part of the UK diet many years ago, it was the food of the rich. The rich ended up with black teeth and their teeth falling out so the poorer had teeth removed because it became fashionable…or so the tale goes. Many years later, the 2nd world war brought rationing and sugar became a limited commodity again but the challenge came in the post war era when suddenly it was available again, it was a way of treating children and so it remains today.
We need to break the cycle of sweet treats but it is so entrenched it is hard to shift. If you tell a grandparent not to give your child sweets they think you are being incredibly mean. YOU ARE NOT BEING MEAN! We try to protect our children from being run over because we know it is not good for them, right? We try to encourage our children not to smoke because we know the dangers, don’t we? So why should we not protect our children from rotting teeth, insulin resistance (the precursor for many cases of diabetes) and fluctuating mood – not to mention obesity and its risks? Limiting sugar and providing your children with other treats is actually loving them and respecting their health. If you don’t believe me, watch this video
I am not saying no sugar, and neither are the experts, but we need to break the cycle of sweet treats. The earlier you can do this the better so start with weaning.
This is what the experts say we should limit our sugar intake to:
- “Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, (roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes).
- Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day (six sugar cubes).
- Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars a day (five sugar cubes).
- There is no guideline limit for children under the age of 4, but it’s recommended they avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it. “
And don’t fall into the trap of thinking sugar from fruit is fine. If you eat the whole fruit, it’s fine but if you just take the juice and use it as an alternative to sugar it still counts as a free sugar. Also, if you drink more than 1 portion of fruit juice a day (150ml) then any extra juice counts as free sugar too.
In our house, we have a one sweet thing a day rule. It might work for you, it might not but it is our way of limiting our free sugars whilst saying you can have some sugar. We also try to keep treats and sweets separate. Stickers, trips out, toys, and quality time are great alternative treats.