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Holiday Food and Health Tip #7: Control children’s sugar intake

Posted 12/4/2008

By: Joe Dibble, Registered Dietitian

Controlling children’s sugar intake can be difficult, especially over the holidays. Natural sugars are found in foods such as milk and fruit. Children often enjoy the taste of these naturally sweet foods, which also contain substantial amounts of important vitamins and other nutrients. Refined sugars, however, are added to enhance the flavor of many foods, including traditional holiday snacks, candies, desserts and drinks. Many of these foods do not provide nutritional value and overconsuming them leaves little room for healthier food choices.

It is difficult to estimate the actual amount of sugar in most foods, but the following tips can help you identify and limit the refined sugar in your child’s diet:

  • Offer more whole fruit, vegetables, and low-fat milk products each day. This leaves less space for nonnutritious sugary treats.
  • Teach older children to check the amount of sugar on the Nutrition Facts panels. For a learning activity, divide the total grams of sugar shown on the panel by four to find the number of teaspoons of sugar in a serving. Use this information to help make wiser choices while food shopping.
  • Check to see if sugar is one of the first ingredients listed on foods. There are many types of added sugar, including sucrose, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, glucose, molasses and malt syrup.
  • Limit the number of holiday treats to only one a day. Include sugar-free or lower-calorie alternatives.

For more information on healthy eating, in western Nevada contact Joe Dibble or Kerry Seymour at (775) 784-4848. For more information in southern Nevada, contact Mary Wilson at (702) 257-5507. At Logandale, contact Penny Blair at (702) 397-2604.

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