Food Healthy-ish Parenting

How Much Sugar My Kids Eat in a Day

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I had no idea how much sugar my kids were ingesting on a daily basis. You will be shocked!

Sugar in One Day

Candy, candy, candy. Snacks, snacks, snacks.

That is all my kids want to talk about. 

Thank God the last of the sugar-themed holidays (Easter) is quickly approaching. Then it’s smooth sailing until Halloween. I hope. 

Because the sugar intake for my kids has gotten out of control. Holiday candy…potty-training M&Ms…visits from grandparents bearing sweets…it goes on and on.

So just how much sugar are my kids eating each day? Here’s a sample day’s meal plan (from yesterday), with the only really odd item on here being the Shamrock shake…that was a St. Patrick’s Day special treat (and after seeing how much sugar is in it, one we probably won’t be repeating!). 


  • Eggo blueberry waffle = 3 grams of sugar
  • Little bit of butter & little bit of syrup = approximately 8 grams of sugar
  • Milk = 12 grams of sugar*
  • 1/2 Apple = 13 grams of sugar*


  • Grilled cheese on honey-wheat bread = 2 grams of sugar
  • Carrot sticks = 2 grams of sugar*
  • Harris Teeter unsweetened applesauce = 9 grams of sugar*
  • Pirate’s Booty = 1 gram of sugar



  • Shamrock milkshake from McDonald’s (small) = 73 grams of sugar!!! (NOT A TYPO. Literally 73 grams.)

t-mcdonalds-Shamrock-McCafe-Shake-Medium (1)


  • Hickory apple pork loin = 2 grams of sugar
  • Roasted potatoes = 1 gram of sugar*
  • Steamed vegetables w/ butter = 2 grams of sugar*
  • Ocean Spray Cranberry-Apple Juice = 31 grams of sugar




  • Utz sour cream & onion potato chips = <1 gram of sugar


This makes the grand total of sugars consumed around 160 grams. Disgusting.

From that total, we are going to deduct the sugar amounts marked by an asterisk, because those are naturally-occurring sugars (like in fruits, vegetables, and milk). I know, it’s confusing, but naturally-occurring sugars are okay for you to eat.

So if we subtract the sugars for the milk, apple, carrots, applesauce (because it’s unsweetened applesauce), potatoes, and vegetables, we get a new grand total of 121 grams of sugar. Still disgusting. 

Also, let’s pretend that I didn’t give my kids a Shamrock shake…that would still be around 50 grams of added sugar they are eating in a day. 

Do you know how much added sugar kids are supposed to consume each day? According to the American Heart Association12-16 grams (depending on age and caloric intake). 

We are way over that. And I can’t help but wonder, how is this affecting my kids’ health, behavior, sleep, and more? 

We think we are being healthy by giving our kids a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, a granola bar, yogurt, and some fruit snacks with “real fruit juice” in them, only to find out that each of those items is packed with added sugars. 

And how do I get them eating the recommended amounts? For starters, no more junky milkshakes from McDonald’s. Eliminating juice is the next easiest step. 

We usually only have milk and water in our house, but my husband likes juice occasionally. Then the kids see it and they want it. 

It’s definitely going to be a struggle, but for me, it’s a necessary one. I tried a 10-day challenge of eating foods with NO added sugar awhile back, but I didn’t keep up with it. 

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a list of 50 snacks that are low-sugar or no-sugar. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss it!

If you want to learn more about the frightening amount of sugar added to everyday foods you never would have imagined, check this out.

Title image courtesy of Flickr.

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