Different Day, Different Family- Sugar Intake

Why Parents Need to Cut Down on Sugar



As a Tinies emergency nanny, I find myself booked into all sorts of situations at a moment's notice. I might be working with new babies and tired Mums, grandparents who've taken on too much, or simply covering for a regular nanny who is ill or on on holiday.

What's on your plate?

One of the issues I've recently noticed - in many of the homes I go to - concerns the diets of these often very young children, especially the sugar content. The science is now very clear - sugar intake needs to be reduced. As a mother myself, I'm very curious and puzzled as to why this new science is not filtering down to the next generation.

What I find hard to understand, with scientific discoveries and widely promoted healthy eating campaigns, is why during weaning and into toddlerhood, sugary cereals and dairy products such as branded Fromage Frais are routinely offered? Why get your children hooked on the taste of sugar and sweeteners so early?

Different tastes and textures

Children and babies will readily eat good quality full fat Greek yogurt, plain or mixed with a little fruit. These rich yogurts already have a smooth, luxurious feel and a little mashed banana, or a cooked and puréed eating apple (no added sugar) can make a difference.

I understand the convenience of these foods for busy, working parents. You can buy a pot of ready-made food off the shelf, peel off the lid and keep the toddler happy. But please can someone tell me why oh why they want introduce so much sugar at such a young age when childhood obesity is rising? I've seen examples of giving a toddler two Petit Filous, a pot of custard and a rice pudding for their tea just for speed and peace, and the parent was happy. Where is the protein, the fibre and the vitamins? This of course is an extreme example, however I hope you can understand my passion for raising this issue.

Given a choice, sweet treats or healthy nibbles

Give a toddler a choice between a chocolate cereal, a wheat biscuit cereal or plain porridge they will choose the former every time. Why give a choice? Why introduce empty nutrition instead of slow release carbohydrates with essential fibre? What they don't know they don't miss. Fruit and vegetables are your friends: adding fibre, vitamins, colour and flavour.

Once a child gets used to so much sugar in the diet it is so much harder to wean them off, but it can be done. Please think carefully about what you are feeding your children right from the start, it's us - the adults, which have the knowledge and the power to get it right. It takes around ten days for adults to adjust to giving up sugar in tea or coffee, and you can apply this to children very gradually reducing the sugar content by gradually mixing in some plain yogurt. There's one great nutritional tip which I heard on the radio and I use it often - "don't eat food containing anything you can't pronounce". Once you really start noticing how much food is adulterated by the manufacturers it becomes easier to change your habits.

Smart choices from the start

If you're about to start weaning a baby please give serious thought to avoiding products with added sugar or artificial sweeteners and make conscious choices towards training them the healthiest life possible. Keep the occasional sweet treats for special times only and please teach them to know the difference.

Nanny B

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