Most children cannot live without sugar and salt; their taste palates are trained that way! Almost everything we eat and drink has these two ingredients. Imagine the amount of sugar and salt that we add into all that we prepare at home. Now, add all the other junk food and sugar-filled soda that we usually buy.
The World Health Organization recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to not more than 10% of their total daily intake. Which includes the sugar used by the manufacturers in the food products along with the natural sugars like honey, syrups, fruit concentrates and fruit juices.
What WHO recommends for a child’s salt intake:
- Children up to 12 months – Less than 1g of salt a day
- 1 to 3 years – 2g of salt a day (⅓ teaspoon)
- 4 to 6 years – 3g of salt a day (½ teaspoon)
- 7 to 10years – 5g of salt a day (¾ teaspoon)
- 11 years and above – 6g of salt a day (1 teaspoon)
When it comes to children, it’s best always to keep track of the amount of salt and sugar they have. The basic biology of children is designed in such a way that they crave sugar and salt more than adults. This makes them more vulnerable to obesity, cardiac diseases and uncontrolled blood pressure as they grow up.
Cutting down on sugar:
Is your sugar natural? Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain naturally-occurring sugars that carry several vitamins. Therefore these food groups should be added in your child’s diet.
Fruits and nuts to the rescue: Sneaking in fruits, nuts and boiled pulses as snacks can help your child avoid the temptations of eating anything sweet.
Whole grains are the way to go: You can always swap white pasta or noodles for wholegrain/wheat pasta and noodles to stay on the safe side.
Be tough on soft drinks: Avoid soft drinks, instead spoil your children with fruit juices like sweet lime, orange, pomegranate, melons and kiwi.
Offer a veggie substitute: You can always serve your children savouries instead of anything too sugary. For example, a vegetable paratha or an egg roll can take the place of a bowl of breakfast cereal, and a vegetable sandwich that of a jam sandwich.
Reducing your child’s salt intake:
Keep it Fresh: Most of the salt we eat comes from restaurant meals and processed foods, including canned vegetables and soups, pasta sauces, frozen entrées, lunch meats, and snack foods. If you start with unsalted, fresh foods and prepare them yourself, you can exercise better control over your child’s salt intake.
Don’t let the noodles sway you: Avoid giving your children ready to cook foods like noodles, soups, canned products, pickles, sauces and baking soda as they contain a higher amount of salt.
Read the labels: Label reading can save you a lot of trouble. For example, food containing more than 0.6 grams of sodium per 100gm is considered as high in salt.
Au Naturale: Natural ingredients and spices can make your cooked food tastier and thereby pique your child’s interest. For example, amchur powder, mint, cardamom, chilli and nutmeg can help add quality flavour to your food.
Stay Tangy: Tangy or sour items like tomato, tamarind, curd, and lemon juice can impart an excellent flavour to food and reduce the need for salt.
As your child begins to discover greater varieties of flavours in fruits, grains and vegetables, he’ll eventually start getting used to it. In fact, you may realise that he’s not even bothering you to take him to the candy store anymore.