Kids Health

How to control your child’s sugar intake and why

By increasing protein rich foods in children, the demand of simple carbs or sugar decreases and vice-versa.

By Dr Seema Khanna

Consumption of added sugar is associated with excess weight gain, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, fatty liver disease and diabetes. Growing kids need calories, but the calories in sugar aren’t actually giving them any nutrition and merely adding calories. In fact, our brains are hardwired to love the sweet stuff.

Focus on good nutrition

The neurotransmitter dopamine is associated with pleasure and it becomes activated when we think of a sugary treat. To avoid sugary foods, parents should introduce nutritious foods like whole foods while the kids are younger so that they adapt to eating more of healthy foods. Parents should read the label of ingredients before purchasing packaged foods to hunt for added sugars. Children between the ages one to three years need 100-1400 kcal and children between the ages nine to 13 years require 1400-2000 kcal depending upon their level of activity.

Encourage your child to consume foods from all food groups-protein (milk, meat, poultry and cottage cheese), vitamins and minerals (veggies, fruits) and vitamin D from plant-based foods. Maximum calories should come from proteins, vitamins and minerals and less from fats and carbs. There is more energy expenditure for the breakdown of protein in comparison to glucose or sugar.

Also Read| Sugar shock: Check before you pick up cereals, biscuits or juices

Include protein-rich foods

Increasing the protein content in diet helps in maintaining fat-free muscle mass and calcium balance, preserving the bone mineral content. Proteins give us satiety value in our body and induces thermo genesis. The rating of satiety through proteins in comparison to carbohydrates is higher. A child’s protein requirement is 0.5 gm to 1 gm per kg body weight. By increasing protein rich foods in children, the demand of simple carbs or sugar decreases and vice-versa.

Diet plan for a six-year-old:

Early Morning: A glass of cow’s milk (250 ml) + 10 almonds (soaked overnight and peeled) Breakfast: 1 serving of wheat (cereal), 1 teaspoon butter, 1 serving of a dairy product (curd, cheese or egg) Snack: 1 fruit Lunch: 1 meal, which includes 1 chapatti with ghee, 1 seasonal veggie, 1 serving of rice and dal, 1 serving of protein (paneer) Snack: Cow’s milk 1 glass of 250 ml (with ragi or oat) and 1 veg or non-veg protein snack Dinner: 1 whole meal, same as lunch, followed by a dessert (yoghurt, ice-cream or kheer) Our body needs very less sugar or simple carbs. When we consume complex carbs, these are converted into simple carbs after the breakdown inside our body, which promotes a healthy weight. More sugar consumed increases dental caries too.

(The writer is a Consultant Nutritionist.)

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