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Place for treats in kids diets

We were all born with a love of sweet treats. Later on, our tastes progress, but gummy bears, sweets and chocolate are the snacks of choice for many children. Most parents therefore ask themselves: how many sweet treats are “allowed” in one day? We can give tips on the appropriate “dose”.

Sweets have a place on the menu

Even sweets have their place in a child’s balanced diet. Low-calorie and calorie-free drinks such as mineral water, unsweetened tea or juice spritzers, vegetables, fruit and cereals should always come first in your nutrition plan. Snacks, sweets and sugary drinks should be treated as a bonus.

They are the sugary or salty “extras”. 10% of the daily energy intake at most should come from sweets, sugar and snacks. However, eating sweets in moderation is fine. Restrictions are not appropriate in any case. They only lead to a voracious craving for the forbidden treats. So allow the little ones their favourite sweets from time to time.

How often should this be?

Your children should eat sweet and salty snacks in moderation – it shouldn’t be every day. How big should portions be if the little ones snack from time to time? That depends upon the child’s age. Our table provides information on how much energy children should get from sweet foods per day:

Age Amount of energy (in kcal)
4-6 years 150 (same value for boys and girls)
7-10 years 180 (same value for boys and girls)
11-12 years 220 (same value for boys and girls)
13-14 years 220 (girls), 270 (boys)
15-18 years 250 (girls), 310 (boys)

Source: Forschungsinstitut für Kinderernährung (FKE) [Research Institute for Childhood Nutrition] 2008

Here are some examples (each corresponds to approx. 150 kcal):

  • 5 pieces of milk chocolate with nuts (30g) or
  • 25 chocolate beans (40g) or
  • half a piece of marble cake (35g) or
  • 30 pretzel sticks (45g) or
  • 3 teaspoons of chocolate hazelnut spread (30g) or
  • 1 portion of jelly with 60ml custard (160g) or
  • 8 fruit bonbons (40g)

Source: The GU-Nährwert- und Kalorien-Tabelle (Gräfe und Unzer, 2010/11), Nestlé nutritional information

We have put together the following table to help you keep track of the right amount of sugary treats for your child. Please note that this table does not give the recommended daily calorie allowance, but only a general overview of the calories contained in different snacks:

Examples:

Amount kcal
Crisps (about 1/3 packet) 50g 270
Marble cake (1 piece) 70g 265
Liquorice (10 pieces) 50g 168
Popcorn, sweet (1 bag) 40g 150
Chocolate hazelnut spread (2 teaspoons) 12g 50,5
KITKAT(one finger) 17g 85
Milk chocolate (1 bar) 12g 64
Pretzel sticks (10 pieces) 15g 50
Sugar (1 teaspoon) 8g 30
Marzipan cake (1 piece) 5g 20
SMARTIES Mini 5g 25
SMARTIES Mini 22g 102,9

 

Source: Kalorien mundgerecht (2010)

Snacking in moderation

It is important that you keep an eye on your child’s snacking habits. It is best to agree on some rules for snacking, such as

  • snacking from the “snackpot” – a decorated tin or brightly painted box. Write your child’s name on it. Place sweets or treats inside. Your child can take something small from the pot every day. Your child therefore learns to ration it out.
  • Snacking in moderation is allowed once a day (see the table above for quantities).
  • No sweets before lunch.
  • No sweets in front of the TV.

 

Fruit takes away cravings

Fruit takes away the craving for sweets. Offer your child fruit more often as an alternative to sweets. If your child craves something sweet, round off the meal with a yoghurt with fruit or a fruit salad. And bread spread with some butter and honey or jam also tastes good.