This particular blog has taken me forever to write as I have agonised over getting the right examples and the exact measures of sugar in each food item so that you can identify with them and so that I don’t sound like I’m banging on like a sugar nazi.
After many a Saturday morning spent sat in front of my laptop screen doing the research in various coffee shops around Whiteladies Road in Bristol while the girl gets her dance on, I’m back home just about finished and ready to post and the left over christmas chocolate is staring at me…
I’ve done a deal with myself – get it done, then you can eat it…
So, term starts again and we are having the usual morning discussions over what is going in the girl’s lunchbox. As her dad and I co-parent, this means that half the week he makes the lunches and the other half I do. And oh boy do we have different ideas on what constitutes a healthy lunch!
These tables below give a rough daily example of my daughter’s lunches:
The UK recommended daily allowance for children aged 7-10 is 24g or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day so you can see just how easy it is to go beyond that target in just one meal it is no mean feat to avoid overdosing our kids on sugar we do it to comfort them, to placate them, to have fun with them we see it as a reward but at what cost?
Look pretty much everything has sugar in it.
It’s increasingly hard to avoid.
But I’m not talking about naturally occurring sugars, I’m talking about those pesky hidden sugars which are added to foods to make them taste better and keep us coming back for more.
For example, the natural yogurt has about 1.5 tsp. of sugar called lactose. This occurs naturally and does not affect the sugar *RDA. This also applies to the fruit eaten whole; the nuts and the vegetable sticks. But still we have the tears and the tantrums because “I’m not normal mummy, I have nuts not chocolate”. It’s a tough call when the kids are tugging on your heart strings because of course all the other kids have a chocolate wafer bar which apparently is ok because it has wafer in it?!
I decided to bring up the issue at the PTA to find out what other parents thought and was surprised that I am in the minority that thinks a lunchbox without cake, chocolate or crisps is not a lunchbox at all but a vacuous space that the child will baulk at and leave untouched. One of the worst offenders is the sugary drinks – the ribenas, fruit shoots, smoothies and fruit juices (yes even those) which are loaded with hidden sugars.
Next up are the cereal bars or those granola bars which are often perceived by us through clever marketing to be healthy but are in fact loaded with the white stuff. Next the morning breakfast bar and of course let’s not forget those kid’s yogurts which can be inhaled in a matter of seconds.
Stacking up more cubes of sugar than you would ever wish to eat are the dried fruits. Did you know those teeny tiny boxes of raisins we pop into our handbags for whenever a fraught child gets the better of us has nearly 3 tsp of sugar? Although this is naturally occurring fructose and glucose, it is adding to our children’s sugar intake in a big way for a very small treat. You wouldn’t give your child 50 grapes for them to eat in the back of the car would you?!
Here’s a few more lunchbox treats that are fully loaded again nothing wrong with moderation its just when we put it all together you can see how easily the sugar adds up…
If you want to start spending more time in the supermarket (personally I’m there most days for a couple of hours anytime between 8am-8pm checking the ingredients list for sugars), all you have to do is divide the carbohydrates by 4 which will give you a quick sugar teaspoon indication.
Alternatively its super easy to think fresh! By that I mean try to avoid the quick easy snacks off the shelf and try making your own flapjacks. Get the kids involved – they’re far more likely to eat something they’ve had a hand in making and you can be assured that you know exactly what’s gone in it.
I believe that if I can’t pronounce the ingredient I probably don’t want to be eating it and certainly not giving it to my daughter.
Okay I’m off to finish the rest of Francesca’s Christmas selection box that I haven’t allowed her to eat yet because life really is a very tricky balancing act. But please don’t tell her – she’s just started to enjoy the raw chocolate fudge flapjack we made.