It may come as no surprise to parents that their kids enjoy sweet treats or beverages. Many of the products with lots of added sugar are marketed specifically to kids, from breakfast cereals and sweetened drinks to candies and cookies. While these sweet treats may look “fun”, they are not-so-fun for our family’s health, with high amounts of sugar, calories, and low nutrients needed for children’s growth and overall health. These high-in-added-sugar products can contribute to overweight, diabetes, and tooth decay. Save the high sugar, high calorie products for a once-in-awhile treat and offer your child some healthier sweet treat options:
Check the nutrition facts label and have your children help search for a cereal with lower amounts of added sugar to try. If they aren’t ready to give up their favorite sweetened cereal, mix half and half with a healthy whole grain, low-sugar variety until they get used to a less sweet taste. Keep some healthy varieties on hand for your child to make a nutritious trail mix, with add-ins such as pretzels, dried fruit, and nuts or seeds. You can also use the cereal as a topping for a fruit and yogurt parfait.
Most fruits are naturally sweet and high in fiber, so they are a great choice for a healthy snack. Try freezing banana slices or grapes (cut small enough for younger children) for a refreshing treat. Apple slices sprinkled with a little cinnamon can be a simple way to satisfy a sweet craving. Kids can also make fruit kabobs for a healthy dessert for the family. Add a fun fruit dip by mixing equal amounts of peanut butter and low-fat yogurt.
Sodas, sports drinks, and flavored fruit drinks are all high in added sugar and calories. Water, low-fat milk, and a limited amount of 100% fruit juice are the best options for kids. Another option is to blend low-fat yogurt with fruit to make a delicious, sweet drink. A little spinach can be added for extra nutrients.
While there are many products with high amounts of added sugar, there are also loads of nutritious and delicious treats that will help keep your family healthy.