How Much Sugar and Salt is OK?

As adults, most of us know the pull of salty and sugary foods. They comprise most of our favorite snack foods, and we can’t help loving them even though we know they are bad for us. The foods that aren’t a part of our healthy diet aren’t a good part of a child’s diet either. Unfortunately, with added sugar and salt popping up everywhere, controlling your child’s intake isn’t easy. With vigilance and attention to food labels, you can keep your child’s salt and sugar intake under control.

Avoiding Excess Salt

Sodium is a mineral that is required by the body to maintain a balance of fluids and avoid dehydration. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to get the required amount of sodium. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to get too much, which can be just as bad as or worse than too little.

Sodium is added to all kinds of processed foods, from canned vegetables to frozen foods. It’s especially prevalent in things like canned soups, which are a popular quick meal option for busy parents. Happily, the food industry has recognized the problem with excess sodium and is offering low-sodium or even sodium free versions of canned foods. Canned vegetables are now available packed only in water. Soups are now available with much lower sodium content.

While home cooking should be safer because we control the amount of salt we put into our foods, we often don’t realize that sodium at home doesn’t just come from a salt shaker. Condiments, seasoning blends, and popular cooking flavorings all contain more sodium that most of us realize. By trying to cook healthy foods at home, you could be serving your child more sodium than is healthy. Again, reading labels is important!

The Sweet Side of Life

The good news is, there is no evidence that sugar really causes children to be overactive, nor does it necessarily lead to obesity – in moderation. The real problem with sugary foods in a child’s diet is that they tend to replace healthier foods, and provide empty calories instead of options full of nutrients.

Sugar is added to all kinds of foods, even those aimed at children – perhaps especially those aimed at children. It’s well know that kids like the sweet stuff, and manufacturers are tuned in to your little one’s sweet tooth. Candy isn’t the only culprit, in fact it isn’t even the main culprit. Fruit “drinks”, yogurt, cereals, granola bars and more all contain large amounts of sugar. While some of these foods might also offer nutritional value, usually due to being fortified, it doesn’t make them the healthiest choice. Nutrients that appear naturally in foods are better absorbed by the body and healthier for kids. Try sweet treats that appear in nature, like fruits and berries, instead of processed sugar for a treat that is both sweet and healthy too.

Everything In Moderation

You have heard it before, and it applies here. Denying kids the odd treat will make them more likely to gorge on it when they do get the chance. And what’s life without a little fun? As long as you keep the sweet and salty treats to a minimum, there won’t be a lasting impact on your child’s health. Making a regular habit of it, however, will set your child up for potential health problems in the years to come.

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