As a parent or caregiver, you will probably do everything you can to ensure your child’s diet is healthy, both to protect their general health and their teeth. Sometimes it is pretty obvious that a food is high in sugar and should be kept for an occasional treat. Sodas and fruit drinks often come in for criticism but the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food choices can account for more than half of the calories attributed to sugar consumption while beverages account for just over 40%.
Quite often foods that are labeled as being low-fat will have added sugar, something that many people do not realize when they try to make a healthy food choice. It pays to read the labels carefully and to try to avoid foods that have more than 10 grams of sugar in a single serving.
One food that can be pretty high in sugar is low-fat peanut butter. When the fat is taken out of regular peanut butter, the manufacturers add sugar to help give the product the taste and mouth feel of ordinary peanut butter. Regular peanut butter contains healthy fats and many will often just have peanuts and salt in the ingredient list and are a better option for your child’s teeth.
Cereal can be another product that is full of sugar but which is often marketed as being healthy. Ideally, cereal should contain less than 5 grams per serving. If your child has a taste for the heavily sweetened cereals, then try mixing them with less sweet versions and gradually increasing the ratio of the low sugar cereal as they become accustomed to the taste.
Fruit leather makes a great snack for lunch boxes but it contains as much sugar as fruit juice. It also pays to read the labels of this product and to avoid any that have corn syrup or artificial colors as the only ingredients should be derived from the fruit itself.
This can seem like a great way to encourage a child to drink more milk but is best kept to an occasional treat. For a healthier version, try making your own with skimmed milk and Ovaltine which has more vitamins and less sugar.
Another tooth-friendly food that can contain plenty of calcium, but the flavored varieties also contains a lot of added sugar. It is best to choose plain yoghurt and add your own flavorings in the form of fresh fruit pieces. Bananas and berries both make great additions.
Canned fruit is quick and cheap and is easy to keep on hand. However canned fruit will normally contain more sugar than fresh fruit and if you do buy it then choose fruit that has been packaged in water rather than syrup. If you buy fruit in syrup then rinse it under running water to help get rid of some of the excess sugars.