Read through the following list: Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, cane juice, Dextrin, brown sugar, malt syrup and Galactose.

What do all these words have in common? They’re all sugar. In fact, they are only 9 out of over 50 names for sugar that can be found on a food label.

Sugar is one of the leading culprits behind the childhood obesity epidemic. In the United States, this epidemic has grown to a staggering point where one in three children are now overweight or obese. Reducing soda and candy intake will obviously help, but there are also many unexpected everyday foods that are adding to the excess sugar in your child’s diet.

Here are a few to keep in mind:

1.  Tomato soup: One can of classic tomato soup with the red and white label has 20 grams of sugar — that’s over 75% of the recommended daily sugar intake and the sugar equivalent of eating two donuts!

2.  Fruit-filled breakfast bars: We all know that children’s favorite morning cereals, like Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Pebbles, tend to have a lot of sugar. However, those fruity breakfast bars they also love aren’t any better. If you check out the food label for these bars you will see that both the crust and filling contain a variety of those nasty synonyms for SUGAR.

3.  Yogurt: You might think yogurt is a healthy snack, but in reality it can contain as much sugar as a Snickers bar. There is already naturally occurring sugar in milk, so yogurt’s added flavors only hike up its sugar content. Try to buy plain yogurt and add some green light foods, like berries, to add extra flavor and sweetness.

4.  Salad dressing: If your child is a fan of sweet dressings, like raspberry vinaigrette, honey mustard, French or Italian, be cautious of how much you pour onto a fresh bed of lettuce! Just 2 tablespoons of dressing can have around 7 grams of sugar. A great alternative is to make your own oil and vinegar dressing that way you can ensure its light and low in sugar!

5.  Fruit juice: Kids might like to start off the day with a glass of orange juice or apple juice, but even 100% fruit juices are a sugar shock in the diet. When fruit is juiced its fiber and most of its nutrients are lost, while its sugar content becomes more concentrated. This explains why, after we drink juice, our blood sugar spikes! It is much healthier to cut up some fresh fruit to get some natural sweetness in the morning.

It is time for us, as parents, to be sugar detectives. The following tips will help you to locate hidden sugar sources and stop them from sneaking into your child’s lunchbox:

Read labels: Look out for the names of added sugars (like the ones listed above) and remove snacks from your pantry that have a variety of unhealthy ingredients. Teach your kids how to read food labels as well, so they can recognize high-sugar foods and find substitutes that are just as satisfying!

Read closely and completely: Added sugars are only identified in the ingredient list on the bottom of the food label, so looking at the sugar content in grams is sometimes not enough. If sugar (or one of the many synonyms) is listed in the first three ingredients, that’s a sign to put it back on the shelf!

Get your kids involved: Work with your kids to find alternatives to easy, sugary snacks. Make a list and go grocery shopping together, so the kids feel involved in the process and are choosing new foods they are excited to try.

Be creative: Do your best to make healthy, non-sugary foods fun to eat. For example, see if you and your kids can make funny faces out of fruit slices and make this the go-to a snack for an after-school refuel (Pinterest has some great ideas and recipes).


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