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How much Sugar should my child be eating?

sugar

~ Your guide to understanding all things sweet ~

Sugar has become a rather large topic of conversation lately due to the child obesity epidemic, its role in adult diseases and even being labelled as a toxin!  I often get asked about sugar and how much kids should be eating.  Below is a guide to how to read nutritional labels when looking at sugar and other helpful tips to reduce consumption.

Why is it so bad?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides the body with a quick energy hit, soon followed by a slump in energy.  Sugar provides no nutritional benefit; it has ‘empty calories’.  Sugar consumption in children is above average and can lead to hyperactivity, reduced immunity and tooth decay.  It is the added sugars that we are to be wary of.  Foods high in added sugar include; pastries, muffins, cakes, lollies, chocolate, fruit drinks, cordials and soft drinks.  You may be surprised to know also that sugar is added to some salad dressings, baked beans, tomato sauce, some yoghurts and of course, the worst culprit, breakfast cereals!

How much?

When reading the nutrition label of a product, read the sugar content per 100 grams not per serve (as serving sizes are different).  When reading the ingredient list, if sugar is listed in the first 3 or 4 ingredients, you can be sure that the product is fairly high in sugar.

Hidden sugars…

Sugar is not only listed as ‘sugar’ but it also goes by the names: sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar & honey), corn syrup, rice syrup, malt extract, rice extract, molasses, maltose.  Many products pride themselves as having ‘no added sugars’ – this does not mean that there is no sugar present, i.e. as in honey, fruit, milk etc.

Tips on reducing sugar intake:

  1. Look for products that have less than 15 grams of sugar/ 100(Interesting to note that the majority of common kid’s breakfast cereals have up 30 grams of sugar per 100 grams!)
  2. Have a preference for products with no sugar or not at least in the first 3-4 ingredients.
  3. Choose natural foods – add fresh fruit to natural plain yoghurts/ make your own breakfast cereals or choose oats, millet, quinoa, speltThese grains are sugar free and are packed full of nutrition.  Opt for pieces of fruit (1-2pcs/ day for 4 to 7 year olds) as opposed to juices, there is no added sugar and you’re getting the benefit of fibre as well as other important nutrients.
  4. Avoid soft drinks and cordials, limit or dilute fruit juices and favour water as the primary fluid choice.
  5. Avoid adding sugar to foods.
  6. Watch out for muffins, banana bread and cakes etc. – make your own healthier options (www.thefoodcoach.com.au has some great healthy tasty recipes)
  7. Educate yourself on how to read nutritional labels.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions.  Yours in health,

Kim Holmes

Tips for making shopping healthy & easy for busy parents!

Grocery

Does this sound familiar – it’s 3.30pm, you’ve picked the kids up from school and need to head to the shops, then get the kids home to do their homework, make dinner, exercise if you didn’t that morning, tidy up the house, feed & bath the kids and spend some time with your partner. Sounds crazy doesn’t it!  But this is real life at about 4-8pm for most families.  How can I make more time you ask???  One way is to fit in a quick 30 minute walk in the morning (if you can), meal plan & shop over the weekend.  I say to myself I need to plan my meals more, so I am not at the shops every day!  I love food shopping and buying fresh produce but now that I have a toddler and a baby on the way, I need more time! I tend to have certain things I buy at the supermarket (toilet rolls, some cleaning products, frozen peas, nappies etc) and others at the fruit market, health shop, fish market and deli.   But all who has all that spare time? 

A great article I read recently from The Food Coach* researched some key common grocery items from the supermarket and the best brands to choose and why.

Yoghurt – Jalna.  This is a personal preference of mine (as well as Barambah Organics, which is only available from health stores).  Both are excellent quality natural yoghurts with nothing added; no sugars, no flavours, no thickeners – just the benefits of good bacteria.

Cheese – Nimbin Natural Ebo cheese.  This is a great tasting cheese that is low in salt.

Olive Oil – Look for dark glass bottles to keep the oil from oxidising.  Cobram Estate was a standout.

Canned tomatoes – a regular we all buy often.  Organic brands are good & look for low sodium content or no added salt.  Lagina came up trumps here as they are just a tin of tomatoes, that’s it!

Pasta – always look for whole wheat/ wholegrain.  Barilla make a great whole wheat spaghetti as does the Macro range.

Cereals – a big issue here!  There is so much hype around sugar laden supermarket breakfast cereals and so there should be. Majority should be in the confectionery isle, as their sugar content is similar to a packet of lollies.   Coles and Macro brands do lovely wholegrain oats – add nuts, seeds and organic dried fruits and you can make a healthy start to the day. 

I could go on.  Be vigilant at the shops and buy good quality produce.  The less the ingredients listed on an item, generally the better.  Also don’t be fooled by low fat or no sugar.  Low fat items generally have added sugar to put back the taste and no sugar can mean an item is artificially sweetened something you really don’t want!

Health & Happiness,

Kim Holmes

A Happy Healthy Christmas

gingerbread-man

Here we are again; Christmas has come around so fast!  Now that I have a little family, it is important to me to look after my family’s health all year round.  This month, I will offer a few tips to get through the festive season feeling as healthy as possible and a recipe treat for the whole family to make for Christmas day!

Tips for Mum & Dad:

  • Eat mindfully- think whilst you’re eating and enjoy every bite.  Eat when sitting and eat all your food from a plate.
  • Take the family for a walk or a swim Christmas morning.  What a great way to start the day and you’ll feel great for the rest of it!
  • Drink loads of water throughout the day – especially if it’s hot or you are having champagne or two.  Have a jug of mineral water on the table full of lemon, lime, orange & mint – delicious!
  • Whip up some healthy salads to go with the Christmas meats or even a healthy homemade stuffing (think crushed nuts, lemon, quinoa & fresh herbs).  Cranberries and watermelon are great summer additions to salads.  Why not make watermelon, fetta and mint skewers to snack on, mmmm!
  • Avoid heavy or fried foods that are going to weigh you down and make you tired.
  • If you do happen over eat – don’t worry!  One day of over-indulging won’t increase your waistline, all the better to eat well and exercise the next day.  Or…. Go easy on all the junk food and you won’t have to make all those resolutions for 2012 (Oh, and you’ll feel better!)

And, the Kids:

  • Get mum & dad to take you out & about on Christmas morning – use those new scooters or bikes! Or head to the beach.
  • Pitch in and help with the cooking – it is fun!

 

Recipe:  Healthy Gingerbread Men

  • 1/4 cup organic butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce/ puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses or maple syrup
  • 3 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preparation:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar & apple until smooth.
  2. Add egg and molasses and mix well.
  3. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and spices.
  4. Add this to the sugar and molasses mix above, and stir well as you do.
  5. Divide the dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge for 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to 1/4 - 1/8-inch thickness.
  7. Cut gingerbread men with a cookie cutter. Add raisins to decorate.
  8. Place 1-2 inches apart on a paper-lined baking sheet.
  9. Bake 10-12 minutes. Add frosting or more decorations when
  10. This should make approx 30 cookies, Enjoy!

Here we’ve swapped a few things, the white flour & sugar for brown (unprocessed varieties) and add raisins for a little extra fibre. You could also decorate with dried cranberries, goji berries or almond flakes.  The spices give the cookies a great flavour and have numerous health benefits.

Have a safe and healthy festive season and I’ll see you in 2012!

Kim Holmes

Welcome to 2012

Vegetables

Welcome to the 1st newsletter of 2012! This marks the start of a new year, new goals & new challenges.  What resolutions have you set yourself and your family?  Next month I will be doing some more post graduate nutrition study in paediatric nutrition. I'm very excited about this & will have some great articles on infant & child health such as allergies, fussy eating, meal & snack ideas and more.  My husband and I are expecting our second child in June but I will also be available for consultations up until then. Please email or call if you have any health queries or concerns.

Easy changes/ resolutions for your family to start the year:

  • Try to eliminate as much as possible the amount of sugar, processed foods, additives and non-nutritional items in your pantry and fridge & replace them with fresh produce
  • Spring-clean your pantry (as above), check the used-by-date on products and buy a few good quality basics (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, raw nuts & seeds, oats, brown rice, spices, ginger, garlic)
  • Aim to cook healthy home-made meals at least 5 nights per week
  • Try to encourage your kids to be as active as they can most days
  • Develop and instil healthy eating attitudes for the whole family that can last a lifetime – the better your relationship with healthy eating, the easier it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle

I look forward to bringing some great healthy articles suited to you and your family in the coming months!

Healthy wishes,

Kim Holmes

Fussy Eaters

Fussy

I recently attended a talk by leading baby and child Nutritionist Leanne Cooper.  An interesting topic she focused on was fussy eating during the toddler years.  My little one is only 9 months old but this is a stage I fear her going through.  Even though I am feeding her the healthiest and nourishing of foods, this is a stage that as parents, we find it hard to deal with and sometimes feel we can’t control, but there are ways you can!

Some interesting facts:

  • It is hard nutritionally on parents/ guardians – don’t blame yourself
  • It is a normal, natural process
  • It will pass (some longer than others)

Ways to deal with fussy eaters:

  • Toddlers as they grow can become inquisitive and want to know what they are eating and why they are eating it
  • Take the children to the shops or farmers market with you
  • Allow them to pick out (certain!) foods
  • Involve them in everything from setting the table to preparing and cooking meals
  • An oldie but a goodie – sneak vegetables into meals but grating all types – one thing I loved, grating zucchini into a homemade healthy chocolate cake!
  • Other mild tasty vegetables such as carrot and celery can also be snuck into almost anything!
  • Keep the kitchen a happy, fun place and enjoy meals together 

When to worry?

  • If you have concerns that your child is underweight and doesn’t appear to be growing consult a health professional
  • Alternatively a plumper child may not be eating correctly and lacking certain nutrients essential for growth and development
  • Watch for signs that your child is eating the way they should be

Good luck.  If you have any other ideas, feel free to share!

Happy Eating!

Kim Holmes

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Kim Holmes

Kim

Kim Holmes is Platinum Pre School's preffered Nutritionist, she writes specifically tailored articles for the Platinum Newsletter and advises our staff on questions related to childhood nutrition. 

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