Sugar for kids

Last week, my friend sat across from me and said  “It doesn’t matter if you give children sodas (a.k.a. minerals or soft drinks), as they sometimes need sugar to boost their energy levels”. I hear that a lot. Or variations of that kind of statement. The most ridiculous one has to be that ice-cream is a “healthy snack” because it at least contains milk.

High sugar intake in children has been liked to obesity which brings with it many many bad diseases. The recommended daily intake of sugar for a child is 12.5g. And with parents handing off sodas, fruit juices, biscuits and yes, ice-cream to children, it is almost always exceeded – on a daily basis.

If you have kitchen scales, I invite you to weigh out 12.5g of sugar and see for yourself how much it is. Now, note that this is supposed to be it for a day but EVERYTHING contains sugar these days – ketchup, peanut butter, biscuits, even some salad dressings. It becomes easy to see that on a daily basis the maximum recommended quantity is exceeded. The last thing you need is to add to this by casually supplying even more sugar through fruit juices in cartons, sodas or yes, so called “healthy” ice cream.

Children do not NEED casual sucrose from time to time. Fructose, which is found in fruit is a good enough source of sugar.  As a matter of fact, even too much fructose is a bad, bad, bad idea!

Making healthy choices is something the majority of us as parents struggle with. Imagine if you could reduce or completely remove this struggle for your kids and give them a chance at a healthier life, wouldn’t you take it?

In an ideal world, we could absolutely cut out sugar and not ever indulge in any of these sugary treats. However, I know that that is difficult so my suggestion is that you begin cutting back a little at a time. E.g. no more juice packs for school, use Zobo sweetened with pineapple instead. If you have a baby, look at that as a clean slate. Never hand that baby any processed drinks, not even ribena. Don’t put sugar in your child’s Ogi. That child will grow up drinking sugarless Ogi and enjoying it because you have trained his/her palate.

How do I know this works? I trained my own daughter like that. She only started eating the unhealthy things when she started school and started getting curious about what other children were eating. Now, I allow her to eat them very rarely. Just so that she doesn’t start begging other kids for their school lunches. Imagine if the other parents in the class only packed healthy meals for their kids? There are only benefits. No downsides. Start today. Your child will love you for it.




I love the idea of training the palate. Sounds wonderful.
I’m not a mum, not even about to but it’ll come in handy when the time comes. Meanwhile I’m still working on myself.
I don’t take sodas anymore, haven’t in years. I now find them way too sweet but I didn’t always think so. I used to love twix but now I can’t eat it in one go because the amount of sugar is distressing. I don’t mean the thought, I mean the actual taste. I have now stopped.
I plan to have dark chocolate for the occassional chocolate cravings.

Natural Nigerian

I remember drinking about 5-7 bottles of Soda on one particular day when I was at University. Now, the gas alone is a deterrent. Much more so when one adds the sugar. All down to palate training. All the best as you continue to conquer your bad habits.



I am so interested in this! With my first son, I managed to keep him off sugar until he was almost over one and even now I noticed he is not so into sugar. The challenge was however getting family members to respect my choice especially when he is over at their place. I still try to limit/control his sugar intake; but he loves his juices lol. I love the idea of zobo as a replacement, I have to learn how to make this as at the moment I normally buy several bottles from the supermarket and he loves drinking that too.
I am doing this sugar limit/control & palate training as well with my 2nd but he loves to sneak sips of his brother’s juice packs!
Also, you can imagine my disgust at a party last week when I was given Fanta apple and Coca cola for my two sons (the younger one is 11 months plus). I mean seriously??? I rejected the drinks, saying “no thanks, they don’t drink this” .

Great post 🙂

Natural Nigerian

Hi Beeba, thank you for your comment! Your sons are so lucky to have a health conscious mum. I faced the same challenges with some family members (not really my nuclear family) and friends but I was adamant and I did crazy things like pouring sodas away right in front of the giver and throwing out inappropriate food in front of them too. I am proud to say that my daughter did not know what Fanta and Coke was until she could read. She just knew them as the orange thing and that brown thing.

Zobo making is soooo easy. You literally just boil the leaves for a few minutes and strain. To sweeten, blend or juice pineapple and throw it in the Zobo. Refrigerate. I will share posts on healthy drinks soon. Please look out for it!


This is so inspiring. I have been wondering if I’ll be able to do this when I start having children. Now that I’ve heard your success story you can bet I’ll try my very best
Love your blog. Keep up the good work

Natural Nigerian

You will as long as you are determined. It is when they go to school that you will stop having that hold on them, especially as they will be exposed to meals that other children bring to school.

Thank you! for the kind words.

An Afrikan Butterfly

Sugar is really not necessary. I still indulge, but at least now I know.
Before, I had to have candy or one big fat Magnum every other day. I always had something sweet in my bag (sweets are great icebreakers lol) but then I challenged myself to go without any sweets for a while. After that period I realised I did not enjoy them as much. Same with coke and soda. You stay away long enough and you realise that you’re drinking nonsense. To think that Fanta today is telling Nigerians on the plastic bottles to drink Fanta as part of our daily hydration needs! That is a problem for another day.

Natural Nigerian

Say what??? I need to find a bottle of Fanta and photograph that statement. This is what you get when you operate in a largely unregulated environment. This same company would not try it in Europe.

You are on point about staying away long enough changing your palate.


I’m not a parent yet, one day hopefully but Amen! This is the way I plan to raise my own children. Its not just the obesity epidemic, its behaviour problems such as autism, diabetes, poor concentration and darn right rudeness. I used to work in a supermarket and the kids who were screaming and throwing tantrums, you only had to look in their parent’s shopping carts. I will also like to point out that since embarking on a healthy lifestyle myself I myself have trained my palate which was actually put to the test over the Christmas holidays and a lot of the foods I used to eat I found way too sweet or I could actually taste the chemicals (I no longer eat processed foods) and found that I no longer enjoy them. I think people who want to break away from the sugar and processed foods should try going without it for at least a week and you’ll be surprised at how you’ll be able to train your taste buds in such a short amount of time.

Natural Nigerian

Amen! to your being a parent one day! I am glad you were able to train your palate. Interesting linking the troublesome kids to the contents of their parents trolleys. There are definitely clues out there. We just need to be open to recognizing them.


Oh my! I have trained my daughter to do without sugar. Infact, she takes out the cream in biscuits. I hope she sticks to this style, she is just 2. I really don’t get why the makers of coke and fanta target the children with, “coke and meals” and “fanta with snacks”. They actually have children requesting for fanta and snacks to stay longer for extra lessons in school. I HATE those ads. I trained myself to do without soda since secondary school. Now, I really hope family and friends will let us do it right with our children.

Majeedah Salau

Training children to go without processed “sugar” is one of d best things to do. I am a school owner, at the end of last term,i informed parents about the new school policy on mid day snacks in the school. 4 days will be for fruits/vegetable and just one day for biscuits/ pastries/ juice / sweets.
Some parents didn’t like the idea, they believe the kids need sugar, but most parents liked it. They appreciated it because they had been trying to reduce their kids sugar intake which hasn’t been easy. So many people are more health conscious.
To the glory of God, since the beginning of this second term no parent has defaulted. They all complied. I can tell you emphatically, we have not had any course to take a pupil to the hospital, very few cases of dysentery or diarrhea or stomach upset, even malaria fever is minimal.


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