Sweet Talk: Tips On Reducing Sugar In Your Kids' Diet
By: Mandy Sacher
Paediatric nutritionist Mandy Sacher shares her best tips for reducing sugar and talks about the launch of her brand-new cookbook Wholesome Child.
Did you know?
Australia is ranked 7th highest in the world for prevalence of type 1 diabetes in children aged 0-14 years and 6th highest for incidence. Adding to this, there is a growing number of children and adolescents who are now affected by type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that we can help protect our children’s health by making simple changes to their diet. Cutting down on and eventually phasing out obvious culprits such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks is a good first step, but what about all the so-called “hidden” sugars, which are often found in foods we may even consider healthy?
What’s in a name?
The term “sugar” usually means sucrose or table sugar, but can come in many guises, including white, raw and brown sugar, honey or corn syrup. Other common sugars are dextrose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, glucose, malt syrup, molasses, agave nectar, barley malt and caramel. Phew!
The best way to reduce the amount of sugar in your child’s diet is to read the labels on the foods you buy. If sugar is listed in the first three ingredients, forget it. The higher up on the list it is, the higher the sugar content. Ideally look for items that contain less than three per cent sugar. Or better still; make meals from scratch so you know exactly what’s going into them.
Hidden sugars in foods
Yoghurts, fruit juices, tomato ketchup and bottles or canned sauces, such as commercial pasta sauces, often contain high levels of sugar. Here are some popular foods and the amount of sugar each one typically contains.
- Barbeque sauce: Two tablespoons of sauce = 3.5 tsps sugar.
- Muesli bar: One muesli bar = 2 tsps sugar.
- Marinade: One serve of bottled marinade = 4 tsps sugar.
- Breakfast cereal: One serving of Special K cereal = 1.5 tsps sugar.
- Soda: A 600ml bottle of Coke = 15 tsps sugar.
- Cordial: A 250ml glass = 4 tsps sugar.
- Up & Go: One 250ml pack = 5 tsps sugar.
What’s the alternative?
If you want to reduce your kids sugar intake, but would still like to add a little sweetness to homemade cakes, for example, there are plenty of other options. Each of them have different nutritional benefits but they are still sugars so do use them in moderation.
- Maple syrup: This is made from the sap of the wild sugar maple tree and contains some vitamins and minerals. Make sure you buy 100% pure maple syrup and not the cheaper “maple-flavoured syrup” which is made of a mix of sugar, corn syrup and other nasties.
- Raw honey or Manuka honey: Nutritionally honey packs a good punch – depending on the type – and has a lower glycaemic index than sugar. Use in moderation to sweeten baked foods, but do not give to babies under 12 months as it can cause infant botulism.
- Rice malt syrup: Made from fermented cooked rice, this syrup is a blend of complex carbohydrates, maltose and glucose.
- Coconut sugar: This is an unprocessed, low glycaemic index sweetener that won’t send sugar levels sky high.
- Stevia: Using 100 per cent unprocessed stevia (erythritol free) is a good way to reduce sugar content in your child’s diet, but it does have a distinctive taste. You may wish to mix it with another sweetener.
Source: Wholesome Child Facebook
The Wholesome Child Cookbook
For a complete guide to feeding your family, you can pre-order a copy of Mandy Sacher’s brand new cookbook, the Wholesome Child. The Wholesome Child Cookbook is a way of life, an eight-step nutrition program and a cookbook all in one. It’s designed to help busy mums improve the well-being of their families through healthy and nutritious meals.
A Recipe To Get You Started!
CHOCOLATE BLACK BEAN BROWNIES
This is my go-to chocolate treat for my kids and their friends when they have playdates and the mums often indulge too. It’s hard to believe that the base of this chocolatey goodness is made from black beans making them high in folate and a good source of iron and fibre.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 25-30 min
Servings: 16 mini brownies (approx)
- 400g Black Beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, plus a little more for coating the baking dish
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 2 tbsp carob powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tsp vanilla powder or extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2-3/4 cup coconut sugar
- High-speed food processor
1. Preheat oven to 160 C.
2. Grease a small square baking dish with coconut oil.
3. Place all the ingredients in a blender and process at a high speed until smooth.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
5. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check after 25 minutes by sliding a knife into the brownie. If it comes away clean, the brownies are ready.
Serving and storage: Allow to cool before cutting into little squares. Serve with coconut cream and fresh strawberries for a dessert treat.
TIP: These brownies may be a treat, but they’re also a protein-packed addition to lunch boxes.