Yoghurt: a great weaning food but they are not all created as equals!

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a great go to food for a weaning baby and for children in general (providing you have not been advised to follow a dairy free/lactose free diet) especially as it is recommended that dairy foods are consumed 2-3 times per day. This should include milk (not as a main drink until 12 months), yoghurt & cheese.

Yoghurt is a good source of calcium, protein and lots of essential vitamins and minerals and most children love them. However, they are not all created equal; some are better than others for your little weaners (and bigger children) and this is mainly because many brands contain more sugar than we should be offering to babies and young children.

When looking at the sugar content of yoghurt it is important to know that there are two types present:

1.   Lactose: a naturally occurring sugar which we are not concerned with.  

2.   Free/added sugars: this is the sugar we should be aiming to keep to a minimum in the diet (WHO class these as: Free sugars are all sugars added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.)

Please look out for a post dedicated to sugar coming soon!!

What should you do?

·       Always go for a full fat variety – babies and toddlers should always be offered full fat dairy as their energy needs are high.

·       Try to stick to natural, Greek or plain fromage frais and if you wish you can add stewed or chopped fruit depending on the stage of weaning that you’re at. Yoghurt is a great addition to savoury dishes too - grate cucumber in for tzatsiki that babies can dip veggies/falafal/meatballs into or add a dollop with a mild curry too! Yum!

·       Look out for nutrition labels. When looking at sugar in yoghurts look for the carbohydrates ‘of which sugars’ information:

High sugar – more than 22.5g of sugar per 100g

Low sugar – less than 5g of sugar per 100g

·     Remember when reading ingredients lists that ingredients appear in order of weight – so the ingredient first in the list is the most abundant. 

·   Sugar added to yoghurts may also appear as fruit concentrate, sweeteners, anything ending in ‘ose’ and many many more.

Here’s a look at some of the products on our supermarket shelves and how they differ.

Little Yeos:

First of all SOOO many people assume these are better because they’re organic (I will be posting about this soon!) and this is not necessarily the case. These are marketed as a weaning product as they have no added refined sugar; however, the second ingredient is concentrated grape juice, which is basically sugar syrup!

Sugar content: 9.2g per 100g – medium sugar product.

Per pot: 4.1g sugar – 1 teaspoon

Petit Filous

 

The ingredients list shows sugar as the second ingredient (5.7% of total ingredients).

Sugar content: 9.9g per 100g – medium sugar.

Per pot: 4.7g sugar – 1 teaspoon

Greek Yoghurt (you can use any brand)

No added sugars – contains naturally occurring sugars only (lactose).

Sugar content: 3.8g per 100g – low sugar.

Per serving (45g as comparison of the above): 1.7g sugar – less than ½ teaspoon – these are naturally occurring sugars only and not added sugars.

Added sugars: 0g

Natural yoghurt (you can use any brand)

No added sugars – contains naturally occurring sugars only (lactose).

Sugar content: 3.6g per 100g – low sugar.

Per serving (45g as comparison of the above): 1.6g sugar – less than ½ teaspoon

Added sugars: 0g

So in summary... although a teaspoon of sugar doesn't seem like a lot, but babies and toddlers really don't need any added sugars in their diet (there are not currently any guidelines for this age group) and 4-6 year olds should have a maximum of 5 teaspoons per day. Having two yoghurts a day would give almost half of this age groups sugar for the entire day. By using a natural, greek or plain fromage frais you can give your little one a healthy, nutritious snack or dessert without adding to the sugar load that adds empty calories and contributes to tooth decay.