5 Sneaky Sugars in Kid's Foods October 31 2014 by Simone Denny
I meet a lot of parents who are conscious of the need to reduce the amount of sugar their children consume and am very familiar with the challenges this brings. I am also on my own crusade to be as refined sugar-free as possible with my little ones. As a result I have found myself making more creative recipes using sugar alternatives. You may remember my blog on 10 Recipes for a Refined Sugar Free Kids Party and our guest blog on How Sugar Suppresses the Immune System.
Avoiding foods with refined sugar for your little ones is not as easy as it sounds. On Monday I flew back from New Zealand on my own with my 3 year old and 1 year old in tow. I was slightly taken aback when the air hostess offered my 3 year old a chocolate magnum and then gave a big sad face (mum, you are a baddie!) look when I intervened and said no thank you (which in turn lead to a mini meltdown, fortunately we recovered quite quickly). Adding a sugar high to the flight home was not on my list of things to do on this particular trip.
Unsolicited offering of sugary treats to other people’s children puts the sugar conscious parent into a predicament: whether to be the bad guy in saying ‘no’ to your child, or if you can’t face the battle, allowing them to have the sugary treat and then dealing with the consequence of a potential sugar high followed by a dreaded low.
Many parents believe they don’t give their children sugar, however this sentiment often refers to restricting obvious sugary foods such as biscuits, cakes or sweets. What is frequently overlooked are the foods that are loaded with hidden sugars. Undoubtedly it is difficult to read every label in the supermarket, particularly when juggling kids. However it is good to have some awareness of the everyday foods your children may eat that contain sneaky sugars in them.
I wrote this article originally for the online publication Thermie Living. If you are Thermomix lover this online magazine is well worth a read.
Below are 5 foods that often have added sugar in them.
1. Peanut Butter
Not all peanut butter brands have sugar in them but most of the major brands have sugar added - it’s not surprising that most children love peanut butter! An article in the Huffington Post explained that the sugar content in peanut butter tends to be listed under carbohydrates (“of which sugars”) and listed in grams. Divide the number of grams by four to calculate the teaspoons of sugar per portion.
According to the founder of ‘Pics Really Good Peanut Butter’ (a reputable NZ brand available in Australia) much of the peanut butter in our supermarkets is made in China, where they not only add sugar, but also add emulsifiers, antioxidants and unspecified hydrogenated oils as well!
Choose peanut butter brands that say no added sugar and check the label for any other nasties that might be added. As mentioned Pics Really Good Peanut Butter is a good brand. Woolies Macro peanut butter, Planet Organic Peanut Butter and the new kid on the block – Myvers Peanut Butter are all good sugar free peanut butters. Making your own peanut butter is quite simple and a great way to ensure there is no added sugar.
The majority of yogurt (and often kid’s yogurt smoothies) on supermarket shelves are full of sugar. Sugar content is not just restricted to flavoured yogurt; sugar also exists in some so-called ‘natural' yogurts, fat free yogurt and Greek yogurt. Some yogurt contain up to 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Add this to your kid’s sugary cereal and you are really giving them a morning sugar hit!
Find a natural yogurt that doesn’t contain sugar or artificial sweeteners. Another option is make your own yogurt. If you are using EasiYo, choose the natural sugar free sachets without artificial sweeteners. Try to avoid flavoured yogurt, as they tend to be high in sugar – blending your own fruit into natural yogurt is a better option.
3. Tomato Sauce/Ketchup
This is probably the one that most people are aware of - tomato sauce is truly laden with sugar. Unfortunately children can get into the habit of wanting tomato sauce on their food from a young age and it is hard habit to break due to its addictive sweet taste. Some Heinz Tomato Ketchup has more than 5 teaspoons of sugar (23.6 grams) per 100gms - about a teaspoon of sugar per small serving.
Also watch out for tinned products containing tomato sauce, i.e. baked beans or spaghetti. Tinned foods with tomato sauces are one of the worst hidden sugar culprits. Some common brands of baked beans have 7.2g of sugar per 100g; one serving will contain 3 cubes of sugar.
Make homemade tomato sauce. If it needs to sweetened use rice syrup or agave to sweeten it. Here is a tomato sauce recipe suggestion. This is a great way to use up soft tomatoes and portions of the sauce can easily be frozen and used when needed.
Try to avoid introducing tomato ketchup to your kids diet,. This is hard, especially in social situations such a bbqs but in the long term it will pay off.
4. Breakfast Cereal
Don’t be fooled by clever breakfast cereal labels that claim endless health benefits - the majority of them are in fact jam packed with as much sugar as a serving of dessert. Whether it is natural muesli, low fat or gluten free cereal most of them contain significant amounts of sugar. For example Woolworths Cocoa Puffs contain 5 teaspoons of sugar per serve, which equates to 44% sugar, following close behind is Kelloggs Froot Loops with 41.7% sugar. This is a frightening amount of sugar to be feeding children every morning.
Cereals that say ‘honey’ or ‘sultana’ are often high in sugar and are worth checking the label (I suggest you check the label of any cereal you buy for your kids). Making your own porridge is a good option – again you sweeten it with mashed banana or dried fruit.
5. Soy Milk and Rice Milk
There seems to be a growing trend towards milk alternatives for adults and children. If you are switching to soy milk or rice milk watch out for the added sugar or malt, most of the large brands add these sweeteners to their products. Sweetened or flavoured soy milk has almost 2 teaspoons of sugar added per serving (about 7 gms)
Buy soy or rice milk brands that say ‘malt free’ or ‘no added sugar’. Avoid flavoured milk alternatives (i.e. vanilla) as these usually contain sugar. Experiment with making your own milk products such as almond milk – free from sugar.
Kiwiherb Kids Calm is a wonderful natural product helps calm irritable or over-excited infants and children. It can also soothe colic, gripe, wind and upset tummies. Ideal to help your baby sleep, and calm them during travel and teething.
Recommended sneaky nutrient booster for kids Smoothies or Breakfasts
Make up a banana, nut milk, organic blueberry smoothie and add Superfood for Kids C Berry Blast or some Veg Vital to really boost the nutrition levels.
Planning to cut out sugar? Check out our range of sugar alternatives here.
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Have a lovely weekend and Happy Halloween to those celebrating!
Simone @ the Nourishing Hub