Newborn

Early childhood nutrition: it is better to limit the use of sugar

The practice of sweetening foods must not be passed on to the child, in fact the preference for greater sweetness develops over the years due to the eating habits imparted from the first approaches to new tastes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises against adding sugar at least for the first 12 months of life, in fact sugars are already naturally present in the foods we eat.

In 100 grams of apple, for example, there are 10 grams of sugar.

So why sweeten a fruit salad?

These are small tricks that turn out to be excellent attention to our child who will introduce less sugar and at the same time learn to appreciate the “true” taste of fruit.

Sweet habits

The practice of sweetening foods must not be passed on to the child, in fact the preference for greater sweetness develops over the years due to the eating habits imparted from the first approaches to new tastes.

During weaning, every taste is new.

The best thing is to let this discovery be aimed at the naturalness of foods.

We often unintentionally make the mistake of associating “sweet” with the concept of “prize”: candy, chocolate, dipping the pacifier in sugar… how many times does it happen that we gratify our children in this way, but a wrong food habit in the diet of children can negatively affect their health as adults. If the child acquires a preference for sweet foods, he will hardly be able to do without them and, if taken in excess, they could increase the risk of obesity, dental caries and cardiovascular diseases.

Simple or complex sugars

Sugars are of two types:

simple or glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose and sucrose, and complex, such as starch, cellulose and fiber (non-nutritious, non-digestible, but extremely useful), formed by several units of simple sugars.

Both are in the “carbs” category.

When we eat complex carbohydrates such as starch in pasta, these are digested in the stomach and gradually release simple carbohydrates, which are easier and faster for the intestine to absorb.

Sources of sugar

As mentioned above, there are sugars naturally present in food: in fruit, in many vegetables, in milk (lactose), in cereals, in potatoes (starches) and added sugars (in sweets, in many food preparations, in fruit juices, in snacks, jams, etc.).

A lot of ready-to-eat foods have a really high sugar content.

Let’s not think only of foods such as cakes or biscuits, but let’s consider that sugar is used for the preparation of many products, such as industrial bread or ready-made sauces and gravies.

For example, a jar of natural yogurt contains on average 4 or 5 grams, a fruit one 13 or 14, not to mention the more gluttonous versions that can contain up to 20 grams.

Carbonated drinks and fruit juices can be a concentrate of simple sugars: considering drinking a glass (200ml) we can get from 20 to 30 grams, the equivalent of 4 or 5 teaspoons!

Pay attention to the label! Don’t be fooled by claims that boast no added sugar.

Often on the label we find ingredients listed as “apple juice, grape juice, agave juice ..”

These concentrated juices are full-fledged simple sugars.

Small precautions for the whole family

As far as daily doses are concerned, the WHO recommends reducing added sugar to less than 10% of the amount of energy consumed during the day.

Paying attention to the introduction of sugars is very important for the health of our children, but it can be an opportunity to have an eye on the nutrition of the whole family and this will surely benefit our little one tomorrow.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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