It can seem almost impossible to avoid sugar when choosing foods to give our children when the demands of everyday life leave many of us reaching for the most convenient culinary options to satisfy our young ones.
But Swedish mum Anna Larsson has taken a strict approach to her daughter’s sugar consumption after she realised her sweet tooth had gotten out of control.
Mum’s sweet treat ban gets results
With her four-year-old daughter’s sugar cravings leading to tantrums and poor behaviour, Anna decided to cut sweet treats from her diet in an attempt to restore balance to her attitude towards food. “I thought, she has real cravings for sugar. She did not want to eat the food we are making, all she wants to eat are things like sweet yoghurts,” the mum said in an interview with BBC.
Anna says it took just a few days for her daughter to kick the sugar cravings and almost immediately she noticed positive changes in her appetite and behaviour. “She was calming down so quickly, falling asleep so quickly in the evenings – and she did not want to look at the television all the time, she wanted to do things.”
While recent studies have labelled the sugar-high a myth, Anna insists that after banning sweet buns and sugary yoghurt her daughter began requesting vegetables, was less grumpy and slept much better.
Parents applauding her approach
The determined mum was so surprised by the results that she shared her success story in a Facebook post (translated below) which has since received more than two thousand reactions and 1600 shares to date, striking a chord with parents stuck in a similar cycle with their own children.
Blir ditt barn ofta argt, har humörsvängningar? Vill inte äta maten du lagar, utan helst bara pasta, kräm eller…
Empowering others to follow her lead
Anna wants to challenge other parents to do the same. “If your kid has this total craving for sugar then they need help. The kid cannot do it themselves – it is up to us parents,” she said to the BBC.
While Anna’s results sound like a dream come true for parents of fussy (and sugar preferring) eaters, can it really be that simple when much of the food we give our youngsters is packed full of hidden sugars and many of us are confused about how much our children are consuming?
How much sugar is too much?
The Australian Health Survey: Consumption of added sugars, 2011-12, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), found “just over half of all Australians aged two years and over exceeded the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to limit energy from free sugars to less than 10 per cent of dietary energy,” with children and teenagers most likely to exceed the sugar recommendation thanks largely to soft drinks, juices and cordial.
Babyology has previously reported the mounting health concerns related to increased cases of tooth decay in children and childhood obesity due to the amount of sugar being consumed by our little ones on a daily basis.
But with everyday staples such as cereals, bread, pre-packaged snacks and sauces full of hidden sugars, it can be difficult to avoid.
NHS Choices recommends no more than 19g (five sugar cubes) of sugar a day for children aged four to six years old, and no more than 24g (six sugar cubes) for children aged seven to 10.
However, exceeding these limits is far too easy when you consider one can of cola can have up to nine cubes of added sugar alone.
Tips for parents wanting to help reduce their child’s sugar intake
You can follow Anna’s lead and eliminate cakes, biscuits and sweetened yoghurt from your child’s diet, swapping these with a piece of fruit and natural yoghurt. Whenever possible, pick food that is closest to how nature intended it. Which means lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid packaged, processed foods wherever possible.
The Australian Government’s Health Direct website also provides the following advice to help cut down on foods and drinks containing added sugars.
- Instead of sugary soft drinks and juice drinks, go for water or unsweetened fruit juice (remember to dilute these for children, to further reduce the sugar).
- Swap cakes or biscuits for a piece of fruit.
- If you add sugar to breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether, or try using a natural honey.
- Check nutrition labels to help you pick the foods with less added sugar.
- Try halving the sugar you use in your recipes. It works for most things except jam, meringues and ice-cream.
- Choose tins of fruit in juice or water rather than syrup.
- Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, but not those coated with sugar or honey.
How do you help limit your child’s sugar intake? Do you have any healthy treats or tips for others looking to make changes in their home?