We introduced the salt and sugar dilemma many mothers face with an overview on why, but we know you’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, that’s interesting but how about something actionable that I could do to optimize my child’s nutrition?” Because many of us have kids of multiple ages, I put together some helpful tips on decreasing salt and sugar in their diets. But let’s get something straight here — we’re not judging! We hope some of the tips below are useful and that you’ll feel good about your decisions.
Helpful tips to decrease salt:
1) When making pasta (at least for your little ones), don’t salt the pasta. It’s not going to make or break their experience with pasta.
2) If you want to offer frozen options such as pizza, mini bagel bites, French fries, chicken nuggets or fingers, pay attention to the serving size and try to offer a vegetable as a side –either in puree form or bite size.
3) Try to make your own pasta sauce. An easy option is to boil vine-ripe tomatoes with fresh or dried Italian herb blends and puree to desired texture.
4) Take time to research when buying condiments such as mustard, mayo, ketchup – many contain excess salt. Brands like Sir Kensington could be a good option.
5) Make your own breads and freeze them. It will certainly be healthier than the majority of the store-bought varieties.
6) Whenever possible, make your own soup blends instead of offering canned soups or dilute the recipe when using canned soup. You can add ½- 2 cans of water.
7) Instead of using salt to flavor foods, try dried herb varieties such as oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme and dill
8) Avoid Ketchup. Avoid Ketchup. Avoid Ketchup.
Helpful tips to decrease sugar:
1) Decrease the sugar quantity in recipes. At least ¼ cup of sugar could be decreased in a recipe without compromising flavor or taste. Here’s a simple chart when substituting for 1 cup of sugar in recipes:
1 1/3 Cup
Raw Cane Sugar
2) Instead of offering cookies or treats such as teddy grahams, consider offering frozen fruit varieties especially for when your baby is teething.
3) Consider making fresh juice or look for the no sugar added options for your babies. When offering them, dilute the juice by 50% to increase hydration while decreasing sugar.
4) Avoid offering canned fruit or using canned fruit in recipes.
5) For breakfast items such as French toast and pancakes, you could mix maple syrup and raw honey (over age 1) to increase the antioxidant component. Try to limit the maple syrup to 1-2 teaspoon. You could flavor the pancake batter or top the French toast with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, almond/vanilla extract or all spice.
6) Read the nutrition labels for cereals as most are laced with sugar. A good alternative is to make your own version.
7) When offering yogurt, avoid the fruit at the bottom varieties. Instead, use 2-4% Greek yogurt and add your own fruit puree if desired.
8) Avoid ketchup. Avoid Ketchup. Avoid Ketchup.
Remember, it’s all about balance. No one is on point 100% of the time so don’t beat yourself up when you aren’t able to offer what you consider healthy to your family.