Mostly, we are all guilty! The child is hungry, very hungry therefore, we give to the child the most convenient thing around; something obviously or secretly sugar laden. While we know better, the making of a nutritious food will take time. The child can’t wait for his or her meal; the mother can’t wait for the cries to cease.
While sugar exists naturally in foods: lactose in milk, fructose in fruits, maltose in barley and malted products, and sucrose in sugarcane, some fruits and vegetables; it’s the non-naturally occurring ones that are dangerous. Naturally occurring sugars come with fiber which helps slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream and vitamins and minerals. Also, sugar in fruits are less concentrated than what is found in a cookie for example.
Toddlers and Infants have small bellies therefore every feeding should be an opportunity to ensure they get the best nutritional quality possible. World Health Organization recommends that children under two years old should not consume added sugar at all; other children and adults reduce their daily intake of “free” or “added sugars” typically found in soft drinks and confectionery to less than 10 percent of their total energy intake. Following this guideline helps prevent health issues for growing toddlers such as obesity and risk factors for heart disease; and help prevent dental carries.
So, how do we manage added sugars in foods?
- Buy unsweetened foods whenever possible and sweeten them yourself. Of course, you are likely to add less sugar than manufacturers of the processed food.
- Use fruits like banana, pineapple and apple to sweeten foods like oats, yoghurt and pap in place of added sugar.
- Use honey for children older than a year old. Please, note, honey is not safe for children under 1.
- Be mindful of fruit juice. Don’t give fruit juice at all to under 6months and not more than 170ml for children between 1-6 years of age.
- Plan and prepare meals ahead in order not to settle for the most convenient not necessarily healthy meals.
Finally, a small amount of sugar is beneficial for children; it provides a very concentrated form of energy. So, cake, cookie or candy can part of a balanced diet but make sure treats don’t become a daily occurrence.
Always bear in mind that the foods we give to our children now has consequences on their weight and lifelong health outcomes.
Make preparations ahead for feeding your child.
his article was contributed by Adeola Akanbi
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