Last night I took my first-grade son to his school’s soccer game. I was dismayed when, near the end of the game, a parent walked out to their car and came back with individual plastic containers of cotton candy, packaged cookies, and a cooler full of Gatorade.
I don’t understand why parents think it’s OK to load kids up with this junk after a sporting event. Do we see professional athletes chowing down on cotton candy and cookies on the sidelines at -three-hour football games? The weekend before, it was the same thing – packets of cookies and cartons of apple juice after the game. Only once this year have I seen a mom show up with orange slices and bottled water for a team after the game.
I have to work very hard to keep my kids educated on how bad these choices are for our bodies, so it really doesn’t help to have other parents bringing stuff like this for ‘snacks’ after team practices and games. And just so I don’t sound unsympathetic to all the families out there with two working parents and thus little time to slice up fruit, many produce sections now offer pre-cut apples in packages. There are also plenty of fruit cups filled with orange slices or pineapple in natural juices. For those of us too busy to cut fruit for ourselves, we can buy it in individual, pre-cut packages.
This is what I had to explain to my kids, in order to get them to understand how bad all that would be for them to eat. I won’t mention the snacks we were offered last night, but Walmart sells tubs that hold two servings, and they have 28 grams per sugar in each container! Even if I could get my kid to only eat half, that’s 14 grams of sugar! The ‘single serving’ of Chips Ahoy cookies had 13 grams of sugar per package/serving. My daughter wanted Oreo Golden cookies, which were also a single serving that contained 18 grams of sugar. The 12 oz. Gatorade has about 21 grams of sugar per bottle. Let’s say I can distract my kid from finishing their cotton candy by moving them onto the cookies or their sugary drink and they only eat half. Half a cotton candy plus a drink plus the cookies add up to 48 to 53 grams of sugar depending on which cookies my kid chose.
Now I’d like to put this in perspective. I’m not a complete anti-sugar mom. We have reasonable limits in our home based on scientific evidence. The World Health Organization recommends limiting adults to 25 grams of sugar per day. If we simply consider kids to be half the physical size of an average adult, that means their average sugar intake per day should be limited to 12.5 grams. I round up and tell my kids 13 grams per day of added sugars is the limit. (I don’t limit their fruits, vegetables or breads.) Looking at the 48-53 grams of sugar my kids were offered in one fell swoop is quite disturbing.
Last night, we skipped the cotton candy and the sports drink, and I let them have two cookies before dinner and one after dinner. The remaining cookies are in a plastic snack bag until they are remembered and asked for. At that time, they will again be reminded of the 13 grams-per-day limit, their grandfather’s type two diabetes, and how eating ‘junk food’ keeps us from eating ‘real food’ that our bodies love and need to be happy.
I am off to make us some fruit sorbet popsicles, since these seem to fill the urge for sweets and are our latest healthy alternative. I found the recipe in a book by Julie Daniluk titled “Slimming Meals that Heal”. I am enclosing the recipe below, but feel free to visit her website for more great ideas. My daughter especially likes the “Transit Breakfast smoothie” and the “Superfood Shake” from “Slimming Meals that Heal” as well.
1 cup frozen organic raspberries (I use non-organic, sorry! We used strawberries the first time and they were great too.)
1 and 1/2 cups ice
2/3 cup berry juice (I substitute apple because that’s usually what I have on-hand)
¼ cup hemp seeds
1-2 grams stevia powder (I substitute 2 Truvia packets here)
Directions: Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to stir/shake ingredients a few times for a more consistent texture.
The recipe says it makes 3 servings.
For my family, we fill up 2 sets of 4 popsicle molds, so I get 8 popsicles (sometimes a little extra from this depending on how closely I follow the berry and ice measurements). After an hour, they are ready to eat.