Last year I spent a lot of time learning about sugar addiction, and how much sugar we are feeding ourselves on a regular basis. As I did research, I was struck at how I have tried to keep my kids from too much sugar, yet was unknowingly setting them up to be addicted to sugar as adults (like I am).
Our typical morning breakfast looked something like:
1 cup of milk or juice
1 small bowl of cereal
pancakes with a tiny amount of syrup
Doesn’t look too bad, right? Breakfast has always been the biggest meal in our house, and we thought this type of breakfast looked healthy. But upon learning how many sugar grams were in each item, this is what I found:
1 cup of milk or juice – (milk: 14 g of sugar/ juice: 28 g of sugar)
1 small bowl of cereal (14 g of sugar)
1/2 banana (7 g of sugar / 14 in a whole one)
pancakes with a tiny amt. of syrup (30 g of sugar)
scrambled eggs (0 g of sugar)
Total = 65-80 grams of sugar!
I read the book: The Belly Fat Cure which seeks to reduce our sugar consumption and recommends only 15 grams of sugar for an entire day. Jorge Cruise also teaches that our body processes sugar the same way, no matter the source (natural sugar, milk sugar, or processed sugar). All of it raises our insulin levels and makes us crave more.
Sparkpeople.com also has a chart that lists what the American Heart Association recommends should be our maximum sugar intake. For a 1200 calorie diet, they recommend no more than 21 grams a day. Our children are likely consuming 1200 calories a day or less, yet we are feeding them upwards of 100-200 grams of sugar a day from snacks like gummies, trail mix, fruit juice, ice cream, soda, etc. Even seemingly healthy snacks are loaded with sugar, like yogurt, raisins, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
Lower sugar ideas
This has led me to hunt for lower sugar cereals since my kids love cereal and we eat it every day. At Costco recently I found this Fiber Plus Cereal from Kelloggs that tastes just like Cinnamon Cheerios, at only 7 grams of sugar per serving vs. 10 grams for Honey Nut Cheerios. The standard “kids” cereal ranges anywhere from 9-15 grams of sugar per serving, and many kids have more than one serving.
My food choices for my kids have radically changed since learning all of this information. I now look at the sugar content of everything I put into their mouths. They are allowed to have juice or treats at birthday parties, of course, but on a regular basis, I no longer keep any sugary items in the house. I don’t look down on others who feed their kids those things, because I used to be one of them. In fact, I think many moms would choose differently if they just had more information.
Lower Sugar Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids
Old Choice: Yoplait Trix Yogurt for Kids – 14 g.
New Choice: Simply Go-gurt, cut in half – 5 g.
Old Choice: Raisins, 1 small box – 25 g.
New Choice: Apple Crisps (from Costco) – 6 g.
Old Choice: Capri Sun (wild cherry) – 28 g.
New Choice: Honest Kids Berry Good Lemonade – 10 g.
Old Choice: Trail Mix (varies)- 10-30 g.
New Choice: Trader Joe’s Trek Mix – 7 g.
Old Choice: Chocolate Chip Granola Bar – 13 g.
New Choice: Nature Valley Granola Thins- 6 g.
WebMD has an excellent article on “Foods Surprisingly High in Sugar” that everyone should read.
Among them: pudding cups with 20 grams of sugar, diced pears in light syrup with 17 grams of sugar, instant oatmeal, 14 grams of sugar, etc…
I believe if we make a few changes, we’ll not only start seeing healthier kids but kids with fewer mood swings from sugar consumption. How many meltdowns could have been avoided if we had just not fed them 60 grams of sugar for breakfast? Their little bodies just can’t handle that. Even if we don’t see any big behavior changes, it is likely just that our kids have gotten used to the high sugar content, and they might already be addicted to sugar. These are just a few things I have found that I hope will be helpful to you, too.
What other healthy breakfasts for kids can you share? What low-sugar snacks do you recommend?
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