Trick or Treating last night lasted for about 2 hours. Impressed by Zane, I watched as he carefully selected red-dye free candies from the multitude of cauldrons, bowls, and tubs full of Halloween “goodies.” At times, he would jerk away from a red sucker or other obviously red treat as if it were poison (well, it actually is…for him). We ended the trek around 8:45pm, trudged into the kitchen and dumped the candy onto the center island. It felt like midnight. We’ve discuss label reading so much that both boys automatically began to sort candy into piles of “dye” and piles of “corn syrup.” This only lasted for a few minutes as I realized that vampire and jester make-up needed to be washed off, so we left the candy out on the counter and each headed to the shower. The thought soaked in again. Sugar everywhere. Sugar in Skittles, Blueberry Nerds, Pay Days, Tootsie Roll pops, Lemon Drops, Jaw Breakers and fruitless fruit snacks.
And this is post-Halloween sugar, probably more sugar than we normally have in the house. At this point, the sugar is obvious. But what about the sugar that isn’t?
The first step to slashing added sugars is to know where they lurk.
The CDC report found that children guzzle about 40% of added sugar as soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened fruit concoctions, such as lemonade, sweet tea, Gatorade, and Powerade. However, while sugary soft drink intake is excessive (I blister when I see kids swigging a “sports” drink whose first ingredient is corn syrup), everyday foods, including baked goods, cereal, granola bars, breakfast bars, and cookies contribute the most added sugar – 60%–to kids’ diets.
Some sugar-laden sources are more obvious than others. Take the case of certain sweetened dried cranberries: One serving supplies as much added sugar as eight ounces of regular soda. Other dried fruits, including raisins, are naturally sweet and contain no added sweeteners. This morning as the boys got their lunches from the fridge, they each got to “add” one Halloween treat to the containers. While we are not keeping all of the treats accumulated last night, we are keeping a few. Zane chose dehydrated apples. No prompting, no reminding, no nagging. He chose them. What an amazing kid.
What to do? Pay attention to what you and your kids are eating. Small changes can have big impacts. I can help.