Shop Smarter With Lower Sugar Snacks
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Even as a dietitian, I never paid much attention to my sugar intake or the grams of sugar on the label. Personally, I cared more about the total calories. I really never had a sweet tooth, so honestly, it was one thing I rarely took into consideration when choosing snack items.
Now that I'm a mom, things have completely changed. I feel as if feeding my toddler is a constant battle to avoid excess sugar. I'm not obsessed with eliminating sugar, but I have certainly realized how much of it is lurking around every corner.
When my daughter was beginning to eat, I avoided most processed food items. I made whole juice at home, baked homemade muffins, granola bars and breads and tried to avoid processed items. As she's gotten older, often convenience has taken a bit of a front seat over better choices. I still mostly avoid fruit juices and make a lot of homemade items, but my daughter, over time, has developed an affinity for the processed things that I have always liked, that come to find out, are high in sugar.
Have you ever looked at the grams of sugar in a yogurt, for example? Goodness! Some are literally the same as a serving of ice cream. No joke. So now, my time at the grocery store is consumed with reading labels for sugar content so I don't overload that tiny little body with junk.
How Much Sugar is Too Much Sugar?
First, a super quick lesson about reading labels. "Sugar" will include all sugar in a product, added and naturally occurring, even if it's from something healthy (like fruit). So you will need to read the ingredients too, not just the numbers! Why? Dates naturally contain a good amount of sugar, but the grams of sugar that come from dates is a better choice compared to a bit less sugar that comes from processed granulated white sugar or corn syrup. Just like orange juice is a healthier choice than a soda. They both contain sugar, but the sugars aren't on equal playing fields.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 16g (4 teaspoons) added sugar for children. Added sugar means sugar coming from syrups and granulated sugars. This is the recommendation that I would stick to. Is it dang near impossible? Yes, if you're choosing foods that are packaged or processed multiple times a day. So just do your best to choose the least sugar grams possible with each food choice, as added sugar grams do add up quickly.
Don't worry about the sugar coming from fruit. Fruit is incredibly nutritious and is a natural form of sugar. It doesn't count toward the 16g, as it is not added, it's naturally occurring.
Lower Sugar Snacks
Since I've already done the research and product testing, let me share with you a handful of my favorite lower sweeter [processed] foods for better snacking!
As a side note: I'm all for naturally cutting sugar, but what I do not advocate for is to consistently give young children non-nutritive sweeteners. Non-nutritive sweeteners are found under the names:
They are all "diet" options that still taste sweet but carry no calories or sugar. Better to provide something real as opposed to a chemical. No long-term studies have proven them safe over the long run, especially in children.
Siggi's yogurt has 9g sugar in each serving, which is nearly half of most other brands. Plus it's a greek yogurt so it provides a hefty dose of protein. Most other yogurts will run you around 16g sugar per container. If you find that your yogurt is crazy high in sugar, don't worry, just split the portions and serve with a low/no sugar option.
Health Warrior Chia Bar has 4g sugar. We like the coconut flavor best.
Color Bar has 5g sugar, but 0g added sugar. I love these bars, as they are healthier than 99.9% of the bars out there (including home made). Use code "INWEALTHANDHEALTH" for free shipping in the US.
Graham crackers, teddy grahams and goldfish cookie grahams all are around the same 8-9g per serving.
Nuts are our favorite go-to snack. Nuts have no added sugars, are high in protein and have fabulous fats. All in all, nuts are the best snack, in my humble opinion. I love the to-go packs from Trader Joe's that have a few cranberries and chocolate chips added in for a little treat. As a side note, beware of the trail mixes that are essentially nuts with candy.
Van's Natural Foods Honey Nut Crunch Cereal is a decent option for a sweet cereal with 7g sugar per serving. It's also gluten free and is made with a blend of brown rice, gluten free oats, millet, quinoa and amaranth flour.
When you can, make whole fruit juice vs. regular fruit juice. But if you opt for regular fruit juice, opt for HONEST Kids Organic Juice or water it down.
An easy way to cut sugar is to opt for jellys and jams with more fruit and less added sugar like this Jam Preserve.
Hopefully this list of items that we enjoy helps you to cut your sugar intake in your home without too much hassle!
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