We’ve been enjoying grapefruit this season for breakfast. I grew up sprinkling a little sugar on top, my husband thinks it’s already sweet enough. M, of course has always sprinkled some sugar on too. (We use raw turbinado for every day. I like the taste better.)
Anyway, we had some amazing pink grapefruit and it was so sweet. I said, “This is so sweet, I don’t even need any sugar!” M said, “Let me try.” She tried it and declared it sweet enough too. We’ve had our GF without sugar this week.
The reason I bring this up? I think some folks have an irrational fear of adding a little sugar (or whatever your sweetener of choice is.) I’ve seen a mom express shock and disdain for adding a little sugar to strawberries while her daughter munched on granola bars, or a parent of an extremely picky child insisting on “unsweetened apple-sauce.”
Sugar, as part of a varied intake, is not the enemy. If you add a little sugar to strawberries or apple-sauce, of course kids will like it better. They naturally have sweeter tastes. Adding a little sugar will not mean that they won’t be able to enjoy foods without sugar. In fact, it might help them expand their tastes. A 2008 study introduced kids to grapefruit juice. One group had sweetened juice initially, the other did not. Weeks later, both groups were served unsweetened juice. The result? The group that had the introduction with sugar actually liked the unsweetened juice more than the group that had never had the sweetened version. Same for bitter veggies. Add a pinch of sugar with initial introductions, and the kids like them better plain later. (So, let’s bust that myth that kids have to learn to like plain foods so they don’t get “hooked” on sugar, sauces or flavor…)
Kids eat foods because of how they taste, and those tastes evolve– and sugar can help, or ketchup, or a little sauce or butter or broth, or cheese… If a little sugar makes a bowl of cut strawberries taste that much better, I say go for it! (I still remember how my mom would add a little sugar and let them sit out for a few hours. They were often a little warm in the summer, and oh, so delicious!)
What do you think?