Sugar and spice and everything nice

Controlling children’s sugar intake can be difficult, especially over the holidays.

Natural sugars are found in foods such as milk and fruit. Children often enjoy the taste of these naturally sweet foods. They can contain substantial amounts of important vitamins and other nutrients. Refined sugars, however, are added to enhance the flavor of many foods, including traditional holiday snacks, candies, desserts and drinks. Many of these foods do not provide nutritional value and overconsuming them leaves little room for healthier food choices.

It is difficult to estimate the actual amount of sugar in most foods. The following tips can help you identify and limit the refined sugar in your child’s diet. Offer more whole fruit, vegetables and low-fat milk products each day. This leaves less space for non-nutritious sugary treats.

Teach older children to check the amount of sugar on the Nutrition Facts panels. For a learning activity, divide the total grams of sugar shown on the panel by four to find the number of teaspoons of sugar in a serving. Use this information to help make wiser choices while food shopping.

Check to see if sugar is one of the first ingredients listed on foods. There are many types of added sugar, including sucrose, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, glucose, molasses and malt syrup.

Limit the number of holiday treats to only one a day. Include sugar-free or lower-calorie alternatives.

Get kids active

Winter weather makes outdoor play difficult. The television, computer or video games are not healthy options. They need to be active to use up energy, stay healthy and learn new things. Here are some fun activities for indoor play:

• Children love dancing to music.

• Have fun sock skating on a tile floor.

• Play like animals — imitate favorite animals by making their sounds and moving the way they do.

• Bring home some exercise videos from the library to make activity more fun.

• Play indoor basketball by throwing bean bags or soft balls into a laundry basket.

• Crumple up old newspapers into balls to have an indoor “snowball” fight.

• Hula-hoops can be used for active fun.

• Pile up some pillows and blankets for some climbing fun.

• Gentle pillow fights get rid of energy.

• Choose a safe, soft place for rough-and-tumble play. Children enjoy wrestling and being silly together. Set guidelines and keep track of when your child shows he or she is ready to end the play.

Children need to be active every day.

Calendar

Dec. 12 — Wolf Creek Wonders Club meeting, 2:15 p.m.

Dec. 12 — 4-H Holiday Party and Dance, 6-9 p.m.

Dec. 13 — Advanced Candymaking project meeting (Hansen’s), 2-5 p.m.

Dec. 16 — Dog Obedience project meeting, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 16 — Dog Agility project meeting, 7:30 p.m.

Check out our Web page at www.archuleta.colostate.edu for calendar events and information.