Gasol Foundation is committed to improving the eating and lifestyle habits of children, adolescents and their families. For this reason, through our projects in the US, Spain and on our social media channels (with the hashtag #HealthyChallenge), we will propose a health challenge as well as share healthy living advice for children, adolescents and families on a monthly basis.
If last month’s challenge was eat three pieces of fruit a day, this month Gasol Foundation calls on families to make an extra effort and beat our January #HealthyChallenge: Reduced intake of free sugars (meaning monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates).
No more than 6 teaspoons of Added Sugars
Research shows that children with the highest intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight or obese than children with a low intake of sugar-sweetened drinks. The recommendation is further supported by evidence showing higher rates of cavities when the intake of free sugars is above 10% of total energy intake compared with an intake of free sugars below 10% of total energy intake.
It’s recommended that children consume less than six teaspoons of added sugars per day (less than 25 grams). Sugar intake can be reduced by: Limiting the consumption of foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugar (e.g. sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary snacks and candy); and eating fresh fruits and raw vegetables as snacks instead of sugary snacks. Most of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually thought of as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugars.
Tips to help the whole family to reduce the intake of free sugars
–Snacks: Healthier snack options are those without added sugar, such as fruit (fresh, canned or frozen), unsalted nuts, unsalted rice cakes, oat cakes, or homemade plain popcorn. What about some hummus with pitta bread and carrot sticks? You can prepare too a low-calorie substitute for the cereal bars – despite their healthy image, many cereal bars can be high in sugar and fat. Try our granola bar recipe!
–Main meals: Many foods that we don’t consider to be sweet contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar. Some ready-made soups, stir-in sauces and ready-to-eat- meals can also be higher in sugar than you think. When eating out or buying takeout, watch out for dishes that are typically high in sugar, such as sweet and sour dishes, some curry sauces, as well as salads with dressings like salad cream. You can also prepare home-made dishes. If you need some ideas check out our quick and easy healthy recipes.
–Breakfast: Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar. Try switching to plain whole wheat cereal biscuits or plain shredded whole grain wheat. Did you know that swapping a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal for plain cereal could cut out 70g of sugar (up to 22 sugar cubes) from your diet over a week? Combine it with some yogurt and add a few chopped dried apricots or a sliced or mashed banana, which is an easy way of getting some of your 5 A DAY. Don’t miss our cup of yogurt with grain and fruits!
–Dessert: Work out some ground rules. Do you need to have dessert every day? Do you have to have chocolate, cookies, and cake every day? If you had this type of sugary snack less often, would you actually enjoy it more? Less sugary desserts include fruit – fresh, frozen, dried, or canned – as well as low-fat and low-sugar rice pudding, and plain low-fat yogurt which you can add some fruits.
–Drinks: Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diets comes from sugary drinks, such as soda, energy drinks or sweetened juices. Try sugar-free varieties, or – better yet – water, low-fat milk, or seltzer with a splash of fruit juice. If you generally drink your tea or coffee with sugar, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether, or try swapping to sweeteners instead. Try some new flavors with herbal teas, or make your own with hot water and a slice of lemon or ginger!
Make It Healthy, Make It Fun
On top of these tips we have created some visual cards that compile some of the benefits of reducing the intake of free sugars. What about printing them and sticking them on the fridge or around the eating area? It will allow the whole family to beat our monthly #HealthyChallenge in an effortless & fun style!