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Blood Sugar & Kids Health

Posted by Jenaé Miles on
Learn how controlling your kid's blood sugar can help them life healthy and avoid diseases like diabetes.

Parents know how important it is to monitor their children's blood sugar levels. Not only can this help prevent diabetes but also other health problems such as heart disease and obesity. For children with type 1 diabetes, checking glucose is a vital process. For both groups, nutrition and exercise are the two most important areas to watch. For example, low-carb kid's snacks are essential for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Along with low-carb options, make sure to offer protein snacks for kids to help them power through their day.

THE EFFECTS OF SUGAR ON THE BODY

Processed foods are exposing children to high levels of sugar. The numbers are staggering—over 200,000 Americans under age 20 were diagnosed with diabetes in 2014. These figures are growing and expected to hit record highs after children across the country missed much of the school year from 2020 to 2021. Many kids experienced a lack of daily exercise and guidance for developing nutritious eating habits during these times.

Weight Gain

The number one effect of sugar on the body is weight gain. Children that drink a single half-cup of 100% juice (made with real fruit) regularly have a 30% risk of becoming obese in two years. As a result, childhood obesity is a significant health problem in the U.S. and worldwide. One in five children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. From 2017 to 2018, nearly 20% of all U.S. children ages two to 19 were obese. That's 14.4 million kids. The dangers of obesity for children can include early diagnosis of diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers. 

Pre-Diabetes & Diabetes

Kid's snacks are getting more sugary. From cookies, brownies, ice cream, cakes, and candies, to pre-made, super-processed foods high in simple carbohydrates, these unhealthy treats are helping children of all ages pack on the pounds. Unfortunately, as sugar consumption increases, so does the risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes. 

Hypertension

Children with high blood pressure? Yes! In 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) changed the guidelines for hypertension and children. Under the new rules, an estimated 1 in 25 kids ages 12 to 19 in the U.S. have high blood pressure. The good thing is parents and children can work together to correct these numbers and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

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Signs of High Blood Sugar in Children

How do you know if your child has high glucose levels? Children experience the same signs as adults

  • Urinating often
  • Constant thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Exhaustion

If you notice any of these changes in your child, contact your pediatrician. 

How Much Sugar is Safe?

Here's the one parents often miss—Children under two shouldn't have ANY sugar. Experiencing sweets at a young age directly correlates to obesity, high blood pressure, and the development of type 2 diabetes. 

Kids over two put the limit at 25g or less of sugar daily for ages two to 18. That's six teaspoons in total and only allows them to have eight ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks per week. 

Ways to Reduce Sugary Foods

Did you know the typical gummy fruit snacks available in single-size packets have three to four tablespoons of added sugar? That's more than half the daily recommended amount for children in a single snack. Additionally, many parents still give their toddlers juice in a bottle, despite the high sugar content and damage to their teeth. 

Eliminate Soda

Soda isn't healthy. So, skip it as even a "once in a while" treat. Instead, focus on water. If your child needs more taste, add no-sugar natural flavorings.

Reduce Juice

As mentioned earlier, fruit juice is loaded with sugar. Eliminate these options or try watering down each glass. An excellent replacement is a plain water with a few pieces of frozen fruit. Yes, fruit is high in sugar. But a few berries or a slice of orange will still keep sugar content below 25g. Remember, the body still needs some sugar, just much less than most Americans get daily. 

Limit Lemonade and Sweet Tea

Most people drink their daily allotment of sugar and don't even realize it. Lemonade and sweet tea are standard summertime drinks at family gatherings. Many people keep a pitcher in their refrigerator. However, both contain too much sugar. Instead, there are low-sugar options you can try. Also, it's possible to switch to a sugar-free tea with lemon for flavoring. 

Choose Whole Wheat Over White

When you're planning for meals, start substituting whole wheat carbohydrates for those enriched with bleached flour. These are complex carbs that take longer to digest and offer more energy. In addition, you can reduce simple sugars by switching to whole wheat pasta, bread, and homemade bakery goods. 

Read Labels

Most people wouldn't buy their favorite foods at the grocery store if they read the label. Processed items are full of unhealthy ingredients that raise blood sugar levels and cause more harm than good. Take a few minutes to read about the different daily percentages and explain labels' elements to understand better the importance of paying close attention to other brands. In addition to helping you see the different sugar amounts, it can assist with finding the best protein snacks for kids.

Buy Healthy Kids' Snacks

It might sound simple, but learning to read labels is an essential step in buying nutritious foods. For example, some of those yummy Vitamin waters are packed with 26g of sugar! Store brand granola bars are another culprit. They look good, they list healthy ingredients, and some even tell you they have no high fructose corn syrup and are plant-based. However, these are also packed with sugar. Some brands contain up to 20g or more

Stick to healthy kid's snacks that go through minimal processing and have no added sugars. To help your child power through their day without unhealthy sugary treats, pick nutritious items. Protein snacks for kids are ideal for controlling hunger, reducing sugar, and boosting energy naturally. 

HEALTH + WELLNESS
by Blood Sugar Control

Other Ways to Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Don't forget fitness! Children don't need to hit the gym daily or run around their block several times daily to stay in shape. Instead, give kids plenty of playtimes and schedule playdates outdoors whenever possible. If you don't have a lot of running room, go for walks. Skip driving to the park a few blocks away. Alternatively, walk there. Is the park a little far for walking? Hop on your bikes! It's a great way to teach your kids' road safety and get exercise. Bring along protein snacks for kids to keep them going for the duration.

Choose Extend Bars for Kids' to Reduce Sugar Consumption

Extend Bars are safe, simple, and healthy for kids. But, the nutritious treats are more than a treat that's good for them—Extend Bars are tasty. They're available in many flavors, including chocolate and peanut butter, yogurt and berry, and chocolate and caramel. The anytime bars are excellent protein snacks for kids, containing no added sugar and only 1g net carbs. Additionally, the delicious anytime treats can curb your child's appetite in the afternoon, so they don't fill up with other foods a few short hours before a nutritious meal. 

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