Are you concerned about your child’s sugar cravings? Are you looking for ways to reduce sugar in kid’s diet?
High sugar intake can cause all sorts of problems for children and elders alike, from dental cavities to Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and a range of ailments. Sugar offers no nutrition and adds only empty calories. When a child eats too much sugar, he is only adding calories, which tend to pile up in the body. This is especially true for a child who does not engage in any physical activity. What does the body do with extra calories? It deposits them as fat, which can cause obesity, weight gain, cardiovascular problems, and even cancer.
Avoiding or cutting down on added sugar can prevent your child from several health conditions. Let’s see how you can reduce sugar in kid’s diet.
Why To Reduce Sugar in Kid’s Diet
Sugar is added to food or drinks to make them sweeter. It may be in the form of cane sugar, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, raw sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, maple, brown sugar, crystal solids, and brown rice syrup. According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommendations, you should get no more than 10% of your daily calories from added sugar. Unfortunately, statistics show that 12-16% of average calories in a kid’s diet come from added sugar.
Products using added sugar are fueling the obesity epidemic. As a parent or caregiver, you are responsible for inculcating the habit of healthy eating in kids by limiting their intake of added sugars.
When you are looking for tips to reduce sugar in kid’s diet, you should first try to identify the sources of added sugars. The most important culprits are:
- Flavored yogurt
- Cakes, cookies, pastries
- Carbonated beverages and fruit juices
- Energy drinks
- Caffeinated drinks
- Candy, chocolates
- Sugary cereal
- Instant oatmeal
- Whole-grain cereals
- Frozen foods
- Granola bars
- Energy and cereal bars
- Candied fruit
- Pasta sauce
- Canned fruit
- Baby food
- Ketchup, barbecue sauce, condiments
How To Reduce Sugar Intake
Your first step to cut down on your family’s intake of sugar should begin in the grocery store. When you go shopping for groceries, scan labels of items for added sweeteners and substitute products that use added sugars with healthier options. Additionally, always choose a candy-free checkout lane. Candies and chocolates displayed at the counters are more likely to tempt the taste buds of kids.
- Bake cakes and cookies at home and use naturally sweet fruits and vegetables for baking or cooking. Apples, bananas, and sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and make great substitutes to refined or artificial sugar.
- Cook at home from scratch rather than relying on ready-to-eat or canned stuff. When you cook at home, you can control the sugar amount according to the preference of your family. Make your own granola bars, condiments, chocolates, and pasta sauce, and you can easily control the amount of each ingredient.
- Serve in smaller bowls to control their portion size.
- Offer water when your little ones are thirsty. Water is a healthier alternative to soda and cola drinks, which are loaded with sugar. Or you may make a smoothie for your tiny tot without added sugar.
- Serve fruit salad or fruit popsicles or juice bars that use natural juice instead of artificial sugar. These make great substitutes to high-calorie desserts.
- Try not to offer sweets as rewards when you want to reduce sugar in your kid’s diet. By offering sweets, chocolates, or candies as a reward for good behavior, you create the impression that this kind of stuff is better than other fruits, vegetables, or other healthy foods. Rather, it is a good idea to give comforting hugs or other non-food items to make them feel rewarded.
Desserts Without Sugar
- Make fruit the first dessert. Offer a variety of fruits so that kids get their share of fiber and nutrients. It is a good idea to make fruit kabobs with strawberries and bananas, which are a perfect alternative to unhealthy candy. Instead of baking cakes with artificial sugar, add apples, mangoes, or bananas to take care of the sweet part. Adding a dash of cinnamon is a great idea to lift the flavors.
- Try to limit desserts to once or twice a week. If you have a dessert ready at the table every day, you are only raising their cravings for sugar. Treats should be an occasional indulgence. Limit sweet treats to special occasions.
- Make foods fun by involving your child in the meal planning and preparation. By being creative together in preparing nutritious foods, you are making food fun for your tiny tots. Slice bananas in the shape of a smiley and top it up with raisins. You may want to use cookie cutters to cut fruits and other healthy stuff in fun shapes.
- Sweeten plain yogurt with frozen fruit. If you want to make it sweeter, add a drizzle of honey.
- Bake a fruit crumble without adding too much sugar. There are plenty of recipes to try out for sugar-free bakes. Add a topping of plain yogurt with berries.
Last but not the least, tell kids to play detective in the grocery. By asking them to check the food labels for total sugar and cholesterol on each item, you are training them to learn how to reduce sugar in kid’s diet. It is a good idea to challenge them to select the product they like on the basis of the lowest amount of sugar.
When you want to serve healthy food at the table, these tips to reduce sugar intake can come in handy. Watch out for hidden sugars in everything you buy at the grocery and try to substitute it with natural fruits.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com