How Much is a Sweet?

October 30th, 2021
For about two years our system has been that the kids get one sweet before dinner and one sweet after dinner. They like to divide their allocation up ("can I have pancakes with half a sweet of chocolate chips?"), and this has been a good opportunity for teaching fractions. But how much is a sweet?

Initially, we would just eyeball it, but a few months ago Julia pointed out that my sense of how much sugar is in various foods wasn't very reliable, and we didn't have a good sense of how much sugar they should be having anyway.

The general recommendation is that at most 10% (pdf) of your calories come from sugar. The kids are eating probably about 1,000 calories per day, and at four calories per gram that would be 25g sugar. Since they get two "sweets" per day, this is 12.5g/sweet. This looks like:

12.5g table sugar (1T):

Three marshmallows:

21g Nutella (1T):

58g ice cream (~1/2C):

17g sprinkles (1.5T):

23g chocolate chips (~32 chips):

Eight chocolate-chip pancakes (no sugar in the batter, 32 chocolate chips):

We don't count the sugar in fruit (which is generally pretty low and comes with lots of other things we would like the kids to be eating more of) but we would count it in juice. We also don't count the sugar in other things that are mostly not sugar even if they do have a bit, like breakfast cereal or peanut butter.

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