Sugar is one of the most readily consumed substances across the globe, and children are especially vulnerable to its dangerous effects. While some natural sugars are necessary for energy and bodily functions, excessive consumption can lead to a variety of health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease. That's why we’ll be showing you a few ways to encourage the kids to eat less sugar and form a healthy relationship with food from an early age.
As children, many of us had a bit of a sweet tooth, making it hard to resist the lure of chocolate, ice cream and lollies. But consuming too much sugar can lead to deadly health problems, with a number of current global health crises driven by our uptake of this sweet white stuff. It’s no secret that eating too much sugar can cause weight gain and increase the risk of obesity in children – not to mention this stuff has no nutritional value.
A high-sugar diet can also cause spikes in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash, leaving children fatigued and moody. This is not ideal for their school years as they juggle complicated maths problems with sports, tests and homework. Sugary foods can leave them struggling to concentrate and falling behind in their studies. It may also lead to the development of mental health conditions like anxiety, so you’ll want to keep their intake to a minimum. Here are some tips for helping kids to eat less sugar and potentially reduce their cravings for it:
Introduce sugar-free alternatives
One of the easiest ways to reduce sugar consumption is to switch to sugar-free options. For instance, you can swap juices and chocolate milk out for water in their kids’ lunchbox, or you could go for whole fruit instead of muesli bars. Take a look at your bread choice as well and consider finding a sugar-free brand – it’s the little choices that go a long way. Added sugar-free snacks like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and popcorn are also tasty alternatives to high-sugar lunchbox foods.
Read the food labels
The nutritional panel on the back of your products should be your best friend – these labels tell you exactly what’s in your food, including how much sugar and added sugars. While the front of the packet may be decorated with “healthy” and “natural” slogans, the back may tell a different story. Often, added sugar is hidden in ultra-processed foods and even in healthier options like yogurt or muesli bars. When shopping, look for products with the least amount of added sugar and do your research to find the best brands.
Involve the kids in meal planning and cooking
When you get the kids involved in the meal planning and cooking process, they’re more likely to try the food they’ve put time into preparing and develop an appreciation for wholesome ingredients. You can get the little ones involved in everything from shopping to prep and cooking, and this not only helps them to eat healthily, but also sets them up for future independence and security in their abilities. Let it be a fun and educational family activity that encourages healthy eating habits.
Stress can contribute to sugar cravings and it also affects our overall health, so it's important to help children manage stress that crops up at school or home. Sports like yoga, meditation and walking all help to calm their nerves, while breathing exercises keep them in the present moment.
Gradually reduce sugar intake
Going cold turkey can cause more harm than good for some, especially if your kid is addicted to the sweet stuff. Instead, you might choose to gradually reduce sugar intake and start with small changes like cutting sugar out of their cup of tea or reducing the sugar in recipes. Over time, you may find your child becomes accustomed to less sugar and acquires a taste for the healthier food.
It's so important – and surprisingly easy – to encourage your children to eat less sugar and develop healthy eating habits in their early years. By introducing fun sugar-free alternatives and gradually reducing sugar intake, you can help your kids form lifelong skills around nutrition and mastering the concept of moderation.
Need a little help? That’s what we’re here for. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
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So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!