According to the American Heart Association kids ages 4-6 should not consume more than 19 grams of added sugar a day. This does not include sugar from milk, fruit, or vegetables. It DOES include syrups, fruit juice, and any sugar added to foods. (Adult women should consume no more than 25 grams, men 37.5 grams.)
I've been looking into this recently because I use dessert as a reward for my children doing three chores a day, and because my six-year-old son already has a mouth full of cavities. Genetics aside, we've decided to drastically cut back on sugar, but we still want to have a daily dessert. Here's what that looks like for us.
Allowable breakfasts: plain Cheerios, plain Rice Crispies cereal, and plain Chex (either rice, wheat, or corn). These cereal's contain between 2-4 grams of sugar. Plain yogurt with raisins or unsweetened wheat germ, plain Cream of Wheat or plain oatmeal with raisins is also acceptable. Weekends are for pancakes with syrup.
Allowable snacks: sliced apples, celery sticks, lightly salted rice cakes, whole wheat Ritz crackers, plain table crackers, fishy crackers, peanut butter without added sugar, unsweetened applesauce, trail mix (without M&M's), cheese, plain yogurt, hard boiled eggs, snap peas, carrot sticks, dried fruit (with no added sugar), and tortilla and avocado tacos.
2 Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies = 8g
2 whole Honey Graham Crackers = 8g
2 Walkers Shortbread Cookies = 6g
24 Honey Teddy Graham Cracker Cookies = 7g
14 Nabisco Barnum's Animal Crackers (that's half a box) = 7g
1 Rice Crispy Treat = 8g
As a point of interest, here are the sugar stats for items that I used to eat frequently or thought were full of sugar:
2 servings of spaghetti without sauce = 4g
1/2 cup of Hunts Plain tomato sauce = 4g
1 candy cane: 10 grams
3 Chocolate Oreos = 14g
3 Powdered sugar mini donuts = 14g
1 Tablespoon jam = 10g
1 Tablespoon of honey = 17g
2-pack of Fig Newtons = 24g
Chobani Greek Yogurt Cup with blackberries on the bottom = 16 grams
One package containing 2 bars of Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey granola = 11g
1 small box of raisins = 25 grams (This doesn't count as added sugar, by the way.)
1 cup of Honey Bunches of Oats without milk = 10g
1 can of Pepsi = 41g
1 can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale = 35g
3/4 cup Raisin Bran cereal without milk = 18g
1 cup of milk = 11g (This is the good kind of sugar)
Grande Carmel Macchiato = 32g
I realize that I can't always oversee my children's sugar intake. They eat treats at church and school quite frequently, and I've decided not to sweat it. But what's neat about this plan is that it turns celebrations into a real treat: unexpected income, half-birthdays, the first day of spring, MLK day. We'll be looking for all sorts of reasons to celebrate around here. And celebrations mean all sugar restrictions are off!