It’s back to CRAZY time, and everyone is ready to get back in routine. Providing your kids (us big kids too) with nutritious and tasty snacks is more important than you think. Nutrition is not just about eating green vegetables for vitamins—it is also crucial when it comes to stable moods, behavior and focus. This healthy foundation must come from parents, and it’s not an easy one to tackle if your kids are already hooked on sugar and refined carbohydrates. Examples? Cereal, baked goods, granola bars, crackers, chips, donuts, fruit snacks, candy, bread, pasta, juice, pop and most packaged snacks. Why not use back to school as a time to start fresh with healthier habits?
It seems the more food allergies there are, the more we see the latest and greatest processed foods. Below is a sample of a very common meal plan for a child that may appear to be healthy. It doesn’t include soft-drinks, chips, or candy. As a reminder, all carbohydrates convert to sugar in the body. Breaking it down into teaspoons (or sugar cubes) instead of grams is the easiest visual for people to understand. Keep in mind, a healthy ADULT shouldn’t be exceeding 20 tsp of sugar per day. This might blow your mind…
PLAIN TOASTED O’S CEREAL, MILK, ORANGE JUICE- 14 tsp sugar
ORGANIC CHEDDAR BUNNIES- 5 tsp sugar
GLUTEN-FREE GRANOLA BAR- 4 tsp sugar
PB&J SANDWICH ON WHOLE WHEAT BREAD-8 tsp sugar
1 CUP GRAPES– 8 tsp sugar
ORGANIC JUICE BOX – 6 tsp sugar
AFTER SCHOOL SNACK
MEDIUM BANANA- 7 tsp sugar
2 ORGANIC GLUTEN-FREE RICE CAKES- 4 tsp sugar
ORGANIC MARINARA SAUCE WITH WHOLE WHEAT SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS- 12 tsp sugar
ORGANIC 60% CHOCOLATE- 4 tsp sugar
GRAND TOTAL- 72 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR
Aside from the extreme amount of sugar, the obvious issue I see with this meal plan is the lack of healthy fats, vegetables and protein. Additionally, there seems to be a lot of packaged, processed foods. Each of these meals and snacks can easily be improved by substituting one of the carbohydrates with a protein or fat.
Breakfast- eliminate orange juice, add an egg or sausage. -7 sugar cubes
Snack- eliminate crackers or both items, add a single serving of Greek yogurt (even if it’s flavoured!) –5 sugar cubes
Lunch- replace the juice with water, reduce grapes by ½, add raw carrots or celery. -10 sugar cubes
Snack- reduce banana and rice cakes by ½, add a handful of nuts or seeds
-5 sugar cubes
Dinner- reduce amount of noodles, add a vegetable and sprinkle a good quality cheese on the pasta –5 sugar cubes
TOTAL SUGAR DECREASES BY 32 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR!
By making these adjustments, the sugar is reduced by about 40%! Believe it or not, this makes a HUGE difference.
FAT STABILIZES SUGAR. If you aren’t willing to work on adequate protein for your child, the next best step to take is increasing healthy fats. Instead of doing an organic overhaul on your household, you should focus on balance first. Excess sugar in ANY form will never result in a positive, healthy foundation for children or adults. Balanced Foods = Balanced Moods!