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Spooky Sugar Secrets

Posted by Stacey on 10/30/2012 to Mom Madness

It's that time of year again, Halloween, when all of the sugar hoopla starts. I cringe at the idea of my kids eating all of that sugar but know full well that the older they get, the harder it is to take it away. As a kid, my mom banned us from having sugar for about 2 years (shes just plain evil). My sisters and I talk about those painful sugar-free Halloweens and have vowed to never torture our own children like that. I'll admit it, I've been tempted. This Halloween, make yourself feel better about your kids getting all of that candy. As bad as it is, there are things that we give our kids every day that add up to a lot more than a few fun size candy bars

Tomato Sauce

Sugar is often added to tomato products to counter their acidity. This is especially true when tomatoes are picked too early. Everyone's favorite condiment, tomato sauce is one of the greatest culprits when it comes to hidden sugar. According to figures from the United States Department of Agriculture, up to one-third of the content of tomato sauce can be sugar. A popular brand of tomato sauce contains 27g of sugar per 100g. We all love a generous dollop of tomato sauce with our favorite snacks, but next time you grab the bottle, keep in mind that a tablespoon of tomato sauce equals one teaspoon of sugar.

Peanut Butter

The sugar content is mostly listed under carbohydrates (of which sugars) and listed in grams. Divide the number of grams by four to calculate the teaspoons of sugar per portion. Yikes!

Salad Dressing

You'd be surprised to find how much sugar ready-made salad dressings contain. The biggest culprits are the low-fat versions - the manufacturers remove the fat of the salad dressing but add extra sugar and salt to improve the taste.


Some brands of flavored yogurts contain up to 20 grams (or 5 teaspoons) of sugar per serving. That equals a big piece of fudge per healthy yogurt serving.

Kid Cereal (Duh)

The sweeter flavored cereals that kids (and many adults) love so much contain up to 34g of sugar per serving. Thats a whopping four teaspoons of sugar! Good Morning:)

Canned Vegetables

Many brands of canned vegetables contain hidden sugars that are used during the manufacturing process to make their shelf life longer. Have a look at the ingredient list to see whether any sugar has been added and, if you must have sweetened veggies, choose a brand with the lowest sugar content.

Canned Soup

Like canned vegetables, most canned soups have added sugar to extend their shelf life - some brands can contain several teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Granola/Breakfast Bars

If you think that "health" and granola bars are a good choice for breakfast or snacking during the day, think again. Most of these bars are loaded with up to 30grams of sugar per bar.


Though it may be obvious that some breads such as raisin or banana bread have sugar in them, many breads and rolls (both white and whole wheat) also contain sugar. Some breads contain as much as a teaspoon of sugar per slice, so check the labels before buying.

It makes me feel better to understand the effects of sugar on kids.Actually, it doesnt, but it seems like it should.

Numerous studies have confirmed that sugar does not cause hyperactivity. In fact, a few drops of sugar water (a half teaspoon in an ounce of water) can soothe a fussing baby. When sugar enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, it temporarily increases calming neuro-chemicals, such as serotonin.

That's not to say you're just imagining those post candy binge meltdowns. The problem is what happens when blood-sugar levels rise too high. The body responds by producing a large amount of insulin, a hormone that sweeps sugar out of the blood and into body cells. Blood-sugar levels may then drop so quickly, your child may feel shaky or sluggish. Not surprisingly, low blood-sugar levels can trigger a craving for more sweets, which creates a vicious cycle of sugar highs and lows.

If your child tends to have post-sugar meltdowns, you can prevent them by tempering the amount he gets at any one time -- controlling portion size, diluting fruit juices, choosing treats low in sugar -- and by making sure he eats something heartier along with sweets. Protein (cheese, soy, beans, meat, nuts) and fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains) help slow the rise and fall of blood-sugar levels.

What things have you removed from your child's diet and what have you replaced it with?