Children are naturally drawn to sugary treats. Their tastebuds need to be trained from a very early stage to like healthy food, which not only boosts their overall health, but the health of their growing teeth and gums as well. Let’s go over 3 simple way to reduce sugary snacking:
Become Aware of Hidden Sugar
Snacking throughout the day is pertinent to the healthy growth of your child. The key is to make snacking choices that are delicious, yet nutritious. As a general note, if it is nutritious for your body, it is nutritious for your teeth.
This is where added sugars come into play. Watch out for added sugars, sweeteners like corn syrup, that are added to prepared foods. Yogurt is a fantastic example of this added sugar phenomena – a usually healthy choice full of probiotics, general store-bought yogurts actually contain more sugar than sweet treats. Instead, buy yogurt that is organic without any sugar added, and that has probiotics added to it. To add sweetness, drizzle with honey or add fruit to the yogurt, these little tricks will seem invisible to your child, but helpful in the long run.
When reading labels, you’ll see sugar is listed in grams. Since 1 tsp. of sugar equals 4 grams, aim to make sure the foods you are feeding your child fall between 12 to 50 grams a day.
Juice & Soda
Because juice is high in sugar and calories, water and milk are always the best options for your little one. In fact, water and milk are the best beverages for your teeth, period. (That goes for grown-ups, too.)
There is a common misconception about juice, and that is that all juices are good for you. While juices derived naturally and minimally processed are good in moderation, the highly processed “juices” available in your grocery store are liquid sugar binges. Some juices contain more sugar per serving than cans of soda. If your child wants juice, make sure you are getting 100% natural juice, you water it down, and remember to keep it in moderation while substituting adequate amounts of water in between servings.
Sugary, carbonated beverages by any name are bad news for your child’s teeth. Soda should not be administered to children at all. Not only do most sodas have caffeine, which inhibits growth, but it is absolutely jam-packed with unhealthy sugars. Soda erodes teeth, causes obesity, and mood swings in children. If you have been administering soda to your child, slowly wean them off the soda, but make sure to end it totally.
Set an Example
Setting an example can make a big difference in your whole family’s health. Eat well, brush twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day. If you want to change your child’s habits, it isn’t just about what they do, it’s about what you do as a family unit.