Anjanette Fraser is a Director of The Natural Alternative Health & Wellbeing Ltd educating companies and their employees on the importance of nutrition in health – both corporate and personal. Since the company inception over 10 years ago its national coverage has been hugely beneficial working with large and small organisations over multiple locations. Anjanette is currently studying a MSc in Nutritional Medicine ensuring the information clients receive is scientific, current, and user friendly. For more information please visit www.natural-alternative.co.uk
Worryingly, children’s breakfasts contain at least half of their recommended daily sugar intake according to Public Health England; that’s before school has even started! Breakfast manufacturers use a combination of sugar and clever marketing to keep enticing children and parents back to their brands, and often under the illusion that their breakfast products are healthy. A survey found that 84% of parents thought they were giving their children a healthy start to the day.
Nearly 20% of children are obese by the time they leave primary school, and 25% of five year olds have tooth decay. A lot of this is due to sugar. A survey of 200 parents with children aged between four and 10 years old found kids were eating more than 11g sugar (3 sugar cubes) for breakfast. It’s not just cereals (some contain up to equivalent of two sugar cubes); chocolate spread (three sugar cubes) and fruit juices (five sugar cubes) are also culprits.
There’s a lot of pressure on parents; as role models, to juggle a career and provide the best we can for our children. Breakfast time can also be stressful, getting children to eat their breakfast and get out of the door on time. So, as Nutritional Therapists and parents here’s what we feed our kids for breakfast; each is quick, healthy, easy to prepare, and inexpensive:
- Toast (granary/seeded) with nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut – check sugar content of some peanut butters. Almond and cashew butters are now available at all major supermarkets)
- Porridge (soak rolled oats in the fridge overnight in full fat milk to speed up the cooking in the morning) with some defrosted berries (frozen berries are much cheaper than fresh and just as healthy). Kids love turning their porridge purple!
- Poached/scrambled/boiled eggs on toast (add some mashed/sliced avocado too for good fats and for brain food)
- Healthy pancakes made with 2 whisked eggs and ½ mashed banana – combine both and fry for couple minutes each side. Serve with natural yogurt
- Full fat natural yogurt with fresh fruit (banana, defrosted berries, apple)
If you would like to understand how to read food labels so you can decide which food is best for your child, here’s our guide:
Every packet of food will have a table which looks a lot like the one above (which is taken from a loaf of white bread). There will be a per 100g column, per slice/portion column and a % RI (recommended intake). To compare two or more products you need to look at the 100g column, then you are comparing the same quantities.
Sugar is the main focus of this article, so looking at the carbohydrate on the left hand side in this example is 45.5g per 100g / 20.0g per slice, and the of which sugars is 3.8g per 100g / 1.7g per slice.
As a guide, per day children should be eating less than the following amount of sugar:
- Age 2 – 13g/3 sugar cubes per day
- Age 3 – 15g/4 sugar cubes per day
- Age 4-6 – 19g/5 sugar cubes per day
- Age 7-10 – 24g/6 cubes per day
So this example of a loaf of white bread does not seem too bad as a proportion of children’s daily sugar intake; but if compared to a granary or seeded bread you will see their sugar content is less for these healthier breads. It’s also what is spread on toast which is a major sugar source!
There’s a great new phone app which can quickly and easily help you find out how much sugar is in foods – it’s called Be Food Smart. You simply scan bar codes with your phone and the app tells you the sugar, saturated fat, and salt in the product in a simple format; e.g. the amount of sugar is explained in terms of sugar cubes and also using the traffic light symbols; low, medium, high. The app also suggests a healthier option.
We understand time is precious and we hope we can use our nutrition knowledge to help guide parents through the jungle which is the breakfast aisle at supermarkets. Don’t be fooled by the marketing on the front of packets; the real information is on the nutrition labels.
*PR collaboration / guest post