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Dr. William Moore
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How to Find Hidden Sugars in your Child's Food

Posted on 7/5/2015 by William Moore
A young girl drinking a sugary orange juice.Kids love food that is made with their favorite character, colors, or the latest food that was advertised on television, but this typically is not the best food for them. Unfortunately, even the foods that are considered "natural," "healthy," or even "organic" have more hidden sugars in them than you would ever realize.

That means when you are planning your child's diet and trying to ensure that you enhance their overall physical and oral health, you could be doing more damage than you realize. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to find those hidden sugars to ensure that you keep tooth decay and acid erosion at bay.

Know Sugar's Alternate Names
Sugar goes by many names; in actuality, it very rarely goes by sugar anymore, especially on kids' foods. Instead, look for names like sucrose, agave nectar, fruit juice concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, molasses, and evaporated cane just to name a few! In addition, any name that has the word "sugar" in it should be identified. The problem with these ingredients is not only the fact that they are sugar, but that they usually come in pairs or even multiples, meaning that there are several different types of sugar in one product, not just one!

Watch Fruit Consumption
Now we know you never want to tell your child not to eat a piece of fruit, but try to balance his consumption out with fresh vegetables and low fait dairy as well. Fresh fruit, while healthy, does contain a large amount of sugar, albeit natural sugar. Regardless if it is natural or made in a factory, your child's teeth do not care - it all acts the same on the enamel of their teeth, slowly eating away at it, putting them at risk for tooth decay.

Avoid Fruit Juice
We are all guilty of falling for the assumption that fruit juice is healthy - it is made from juice after all. But, not all juices are created equal and even the healthy juices have a significant amount of sugar in them. The best rule of thumb is to avoid giving your child fruit juice at all; then you do not have to worry about the type or how much they are drinking.

If your child insists on drinking juice, make sure that it is not from concentrate, has no added sugars, and that you dilute it as much as possible with water. Typically kids just like the flavoring that juice provides, allowing you to get away with ¼ juice and ¾ water. In general, however, it is best to have kids drink water and milk to avoid the sugar from eroding the enamel on their teeth.

It can seem impossible to put together a diet that is healthy for a child when they are picky, but it is possible! Start watching for the different names for sugar in the foods you typically buy and start eliminating them one at a time.

If you make changes to your child's diet slowly, he will be less likely to fuss about it. Make sure to replace the unhealthy, sugar laden foods with healthier alternatives, slowly introducing your child to new, exciting foods that he can enjoy without worry.

Don't focus on the fact that the processed chips, cakes, and cookies are bad for their teeth and will force them to "have drills in their teeth," but on the fact that healthy food is good for their entire body, mouth, and mind! Most importantly, make sure that everyone (including you) eats healthy too - as you are the biggest role model in your child's life.

Please contact us at (503) 438-7145 if you have any questions about your child's food.
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Dr. William Moore St. Helens Pediatric Dentistry
500 North Columbia River Hwy, Suite 505
St. Helens, OR 97051

(503) 396-4750

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