Every time we are out and about with kids, I see it. And my eyes still go wide, my heart sinks, my stomach balls up. The SUGAR.
It’s birthday treats, goodie bags, post-game snacks, classroom celebrations … after the haircut … at the community events … it’s EVERYWHERE.
The American Heart Association suggests the average child between ages 2 – 18 years old should consume no more than 6 tablespoons of sugar per day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, on average, sugar makes up 17 percent of what children consume each day!
When I join my kids for lunch at school, it blows my mind how much sugar kids are getting in just one meal, let alone a full day’s worth of sugar. The average student at the table has two (or more!) of the following items in their lunch box:
- Nature Valley granola bar: 4 teaspoons sugar
- Capri Sun juice pouch: 4 teaspoons sugar
- Welch’s fruit snacks: 3 teaspoons sugar (for just 8 or 9 little snacks in one pouch!)
- Go-Gurt yogurt: 2 teaspoons sugar (along with up to TWELVE ingredients — yogurt should have TWO ingredients)
With just two of these items, they have already blown their allotted daily intake. Add pasta for dinner, cereal or pastry for breakfast, and a side of chips to either and you’ve got insulin resistance in the making.
And then we expect them to stay awake, and focus for hours on end with little to no movement in their tired and stressed little bodies. We expect them to perform their sport without any real fuel for their system.
We see kids in our office DAILY for Nutrition Response Testing who are dealing with all kinds of issues where sugar tests as an underlaying cause: headaches, ADHD, weight concerns, acne, body pain, skin issues, and more.
Alternatives for Sugar-Filled “Kid Food”
- Instead of a Nature Valley granola bar, you could send a little bag of trail mix with dried fruit.
- Instead of a Capri Sun, you could send WATER. Our kids are dehydrated.
- Instead of Welch’s fruit snacks, you could send fresh fruit and/or vegetables.
- Instead of Go Gurt, you could send a small jam jar with whole fat plain yogurt drizzled with honey and berries.
These “instead of” options give the growing body the fat and protein it needs along with healthy carbohydrates to fuel it.
Healthy Lunchbox and Snack Ideas for Kids
I understand that convenience is important. I’m a busy mom too. We do our very best to keep things simple (yet TASTY) around here, so you can adapt and be successful. Our blog is chock full of recipes and healthy swaps that are guaranteed to cut down on your family’s processed sugar intake.
- High-Energy Snacks for After School Sports
- Homemade Gluten-Free Granola
- High-Protein Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
- How to Make Dairy-Free Coconut Yogurt
- 6 Super Snacks for Kids
If you need an ally in your health journey, I encourage you to try nutrition coaching.