Blogger, Cee Olaleye shares how she is reducing her children’s sugar intake
The recent Change4Life campaign highlighted that children in England are consuming too much sugar – an extra 2,800 sugar cubes per year. That’s equivalent to 312 cans of sugary cola, 469 higher-sugar yoghurts or 562 chocolate bars!
Too much sugar is bad for children’s health. It can lead to the build-up of harmful fat on the inside that we can't see. This fat can cause weight gain and serious diseases like type 2 diabetes – which people are getting younger than ever before – heart disease and some cancers. Too much sugar can also cause painful tooth decay; shockingly every 10 minutes, a child in England has a rotten tooth removed in hospital.
We talked to parenting and lifestyle blogger ‘Hey… Is that me?*’, Cee Olaleye, who has two daughters aged 7 and 10. Cee tells us how she has become more aware of her children’s sugar intake and the action she has taken action to reduce it by making simple everyday swaps to healthier, lower-sugar versions of the foods and drinks they enjoy. Cee also tells us about the challenges she faces when making these changes, especially when it comes to cultural foods and family members such as grandparents.
Reducing sugar intake
Cee Olaleye said “Like most mums, the health of my children is very important to me, so I try to make sure that they don’t have too much sugar.
“I’m careful with breakfast cereals, as I know some of them contain a lot of sugar. For example, a bowl of higher-sugar cereal can have around 3 cubes of sugar per serving, so in the morning we go for things like porridge, scrambled eggs and other lower sugar options.”
“When it comes to drinks, my kids mainly have water. Occasionally, I give them juice drinks, but I know they can be high in sugar so I opt for the no added sugar versions as a healthier alternative.
“I also encourage my girls to eat plenty of fruit and veg. Sometimes I add them into food, like pasta sauces, and the kids don’t even know they’re there!”
Cee recently downloaded the Change4Life food scanner app, so she could see how much sugar is in everyday foods and drinks. Cee shares “My girls love using the Change4Life food scanner app and seeing the ‘traffic light’ labels on products brought to life. It’s a fab app that is enjoyable and informative for both children and adults alike.
“I was very surprised about the amount of sugar in foods and drinks that are marketed as (and that I thought were) healthy. The app has made reducing my kids’ sugar intake much easier – the girls have made up their own minds after seeing the sugar content of certain foods and drinks, and now they don’t want to eat some of the items that they know are high in sugar!”
Dealing with sugar in cultural foods
Cee said “Food is such a huge part of our culture and it’s an important way that we connect with our African heritage. My girls love eating African snacks such as Chin Chin and Pof Pof, which can contain a lot of sugar, but they now only have them occasionally. Grandma also likes to make these from scratch, meaning that we can reduce the sugar content compared to shop bought ones, which really helps.”
The influence of family members
Grandparents can play a significant role in their grandchildren’s diet.
Cee said “Grandparents and aunties often give my kids sugary snacks whenever they see them, which can be tough to manage. I think that if we show grandparents how much sugar is in everyday foods and drinks they could help us make swaps to healthier, lower sugar options.”
Cee concludes “We owe it to our children to teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid serious diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which are common within the black community.”
Change4Life is here to help you and your family cut back on sugar. Download the free Change4Life Food Scanner app to see the sugar content of everyday popular items or search Change4Life for healthier swap ideas.
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