Kids love sugar – it’s an undeniable fact.
But, as a parent, you don’t want them eating all sweet stuff, all the time. Experts agree with this notion, of course. Kids two and older should have, at most, six teaspoons of sugar each day. This figure represents foods with added sugar, not whole foods with naturally occurring sugars, such as fruit.
Perhaps you’ve realized that your brood eats a little too much sugar, and you want to cut back. They would resist if they knew what your plan was because, well, they love their sweet treats. But if you find sneaky ways to reduce their intake, then everyone wins – they eat more healthily, and you will be happy knowing that.
So, try these four methods to secretly slash their sugar consumption.
1. Start With Their Beverages
Kids often say they hate the taste of plain water. You might give juice to your little ones to appease them and ensure they’re properly hydrated. But even fruit-based beverages have their negatives: namely, they contain a ton of sugar. The same goes for soda and other, more obvious sources of sweeteners.
So, how can you meet in the middle? Try grabbing a pitcher and popping in a handful of orange or lemon slices. You could get even more creative with strawberries and mint leaves. Pour water over top and let the flavors blend together for a bit before pouring your child a glass. They’ll get hydrated without much, if any, added sugar. But they’ll still get the flavor they crave from their go-to juice boxes and smoothies.
2. Give Them Variety
Your healthy snack selection has to be more appealing than sugary alternatives. That’s a big ask, but it’s not an impossible proposition.
The best way to ensure your kids will happily chow down on sugar-free snacks is to give them variety in their choices. You can certainly understand how they’d get bored of the same vegetable-and-hummus snack every single day. So, seek out other, sweetener-free options that will taste just as satisfying as their sugar-laden favorites.
If you’re wanting for inspiration, head to Pinterest. You’ll find a ton of kid-friendly snack options that’ll check all of your boxes, as well.
3. Double-Check The Labels
On that note, many seemingly healthy foods have a dark secret: added sugar by the tablespoonful. So, check your pantry and fridge before you self-sabotage by handing over what seem to be good-for-you snacks.
There are plenty of potential culprits here, but some kid-favorite foods tend to have more added sugar than others. Flavored yogurt, granola bars, cereal and peanut butter are among them. These are the kinds of foods you pick with good intentions, especially if they’re made with kids in mind. But always check the ingredients list to avoid added sugars and go for all-natural options where possible. You’ll save on sugar but, in many cases, won’t skimp on taste.
3. Model the Behaviors You Want Them to Display
Now, this is a seriously sneaky way to get your kids to eat less sugar. As a parent, you know one thing to be true: if you start eating something, your child will want some, too. This can be a painful trend when you’re really hungry and have to share with your brood. But if you’re trying to get them to eat healthier, you can use it to your advantage.
Start eating the healthy, low-sugar snacks that you’d like them to try. That could be all of the inspiration they need to mix things up themselves. You can take this a step further by prioritizing family dinners. That way, your kids will see you eating a healthy, balanced meal, and it will become instinctual for them to do the same.
4. Allow Treats at the Right Moments
Now, we know that kids shouldn’t eat too much sugar. It’s better for them in a multitude of ways: it keeps their teeth healthy, balances their energy levels and prevents conditions such as diabetes down the line. But that doesn’t mean your kids should never have sugar. In fact, blocking it altogether can have the opposite effect of what you envision. Rather than learning to have a healthy relationship with foods of all kinds, your kids will crave precisely what they think they can’t have.
So, the sneakiest way to give your kids less sugar is to actually give them sugar from time to time. Your little ones should get the chance to enjoy ice cream, cookies, cakes and candy in special situations. But you should also explain to them why these are once-in-a-while treats. This will ensure they grow a healthy relationship with food and with themselves because, well, we all need a little sugar sometimes.
Skip the Sugar and Life’s Sweet
Teaching your kids how to eat healthily is a skill that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. So, help them to manage their sugar intake now to instill the right habits. But don’t forget that everyone wants – and deserves – a treat from time to time. With the right balance, life can be super sweet, even without a daily deluge of sugar.