268:365 - To the neighborhood children...Absolutely not. I’m not concerned about sugar at Halloween. This is a wonderful, whimsical night for kids. Most of us have fond memories of the candy haul at Halloween. If we limited our sugar binges to just Halloween and Easter, we’d be fine. But we don’t. Our children are eating excessive amounts of sugar, averaging 29 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and all year around. For example, a can of cola has the sugar equivalent of 9 suckers, some Lunchables have almost 10 teaspoons of sugar, a bowl of sweetened and flavored instant oatmeal has 4 teaspoons of sugar, a glass of tang has 3 teaspoons, and 3/4 cup of canned baked beans has 1 teaspoon. Even seemingly “healthy” meals, if they are based on packaged or processed foods, can total up the sugar equivalent of 20 small Musketeer’s bars. Children’s tummies are small, but their nutrient needs are high. That means every bite counts.

? First, avoid sticky, sweet foods, such as processed fruit bars, candy, and caramel, since they are the worst offenders of tooth decay.

? Second, limit soft drinks to no more than one serving a week, since they are the biggest contributors of sugar in the diet.

? Third, cut back on sweets, such as doughnuts, pies, cakes, cookies and ice cream, since these foods are doubly harmful because of their high sugar and high fat content.

? Fourth, read labels. There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. Although manufacturers are not required to separate out added sugars from naturally occurring sugars in milk or fruit,  you can get an idea of the sugar content by reading the ingredients list. A food may be too sweet if sugar is one of the first three ingredients or if the list includes several sources of sugar. Also, keep in mind that sugar comes in a variety of names, such as glucose, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, and fructose, turbinado.  Honey is sugar with little nutritional value other than calories (it would take 1200 tablespoons of honey for a total of 76,800 calories to supply your child’s daily requirement for calcium or 100 tablespoons and 6400 calories to supply enough iron.

? Fifth, use more spices. Cinnamon, vanilla, spearmint and anise provide a sweet taste to foods without adding sugar or calories.

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