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The Bittersweet Truth About Sugary Drinks

Remember the old saying "Just a spoonful of sugar" from Mary Poppins? Well since then, the food industry has been adding a whole lot more than just one spoonful of sugar to many drinks. This post will hopefully help you as a parent to choose healthier, delicious drinks that are packed with flavour and nutrients instead of sugar!

The Sweet Truth:

Sugar is a carbohydrate that helps to make food and drinks taste sweet. When we hear sugar, we usually think of table sugar or brown sugar. This type of sugar is called sucrose. Many foods that are rich in carbohydrates are made of different kinds of sugars. The sugar found in milk is called lactose and the sugars that can be found in fruits are called fructose,  sucrose and glucose.

The sugars found in fruit and milk are "natural sugars", while the sugar added to food and drinks to sweeten them up are "added sugars". It is important to choose foods with natural sugar because they are also packed with many vitamins and minerals! Foods with added sugars are not as good for your body. They are often found in foods with higher fat and more calories. You may be surprised by how many foods that appear to be healthy actually contain a lot of added sugar (like some breakfast cereals!). This is why it is very important to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists to know how much sugar is in the food and drinks you serve your little ones! You can also help prevent cavities by reducing your child's sugar intake.

So just how many spoons of sugar are in common drinks? Check out this diagram found on the Dietitians of Canada website.

Many juices and fruit cocktails on grocery store shelves are also made of a lot of added sugar! Be sure to read the nutrition labels on fruit juices to make sure they are made of 100% fruit juice and do not contain added sugar. Remember, whole fruits and vegetables contain less sugar than juices do! Try serving different fruits and vegetables rather than juices when possible.

Try serving your kids some of these drinks instead of the ones found above:
  • Water is a great alternative to juice to quench your child's thirst!
  • Fruit flavoured water (water with lemon, lime, berries or orange slices)
  • Milk
  • 100% fruit juice (you can also dilute with water)
Eat Right Ontario
Dietitians of Canada