If you are tired of your kids acting moody and feeling sluggish as a result of too much holiday sugar then let’s re-commit together to take the health of our families up a notch! I’m ready! Sugar doesn’t only make kids (and yourself) moody and tired. Too much sugar (more than 25 grams of added sugar a day) also:
- Reduces brain function!
- Leads to over-eating (that one should be obvious)
- Contributes to obesity
- Ruins our sensitivity to insulin and contributes to Type 2 Diabetes
- Promotes inflammation
- Can lead to headaches (this happens to me!!)
While it can be argued that all sugars break down into the same molecular structure, some sugars are worse than others. By worse, I mean, they offer nothing in return for you nutritionally. Fruit sugar is accompanied by nutrients and fiber, while table sugar and high fructose corn syrup have nothing of value except calories. By fruit sugar I just mean fruit! Puree it or blend it to incorporate into some of your favorite baked goods and smoothies. It’s best when trying to limit your kids intake of sugar to reduce table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, powdered sugar and brown sugar. Honey is delicious in limited amounts, and contains some nutrients. But fruit sugar is ideal.
We have 8 ways you can reduce your families consumption of sugar, that should not lead to complaining or hassle!
- Read labels! Similar products can result in hugely different amounts of sugar. Instant Oatmeal (the flavored kind), granola bars, cereals, muffins, and yogurts are great examples. Often, you can continue to purchase these kid favorites by just changing the brand you buy. (Check out my comparisons here)
- Bake more often. If your kids love cookies like mine do, there is no reason to eliminate them entirely. Baking at home will allow you to use less sugar, no matter what- or even replace all the sugar with pureed fruit. How often do you add High fructose corn syrup to homemade cookies? Umm… I’m guessing, NEVER!! Here is a delicious Dr. Fuhrman recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with no sugar!
- Eliminate sugar added beverages– Altogether, period. And don’t look back! there is no reason to have sugar sweetened soda pop or sugar added juices in your home. Sugar sweetened beverages is being held responsible for the majority of added sugar in American’s diet today! That is one statistic you do not want to be a part of!
- Plan your meals and snacks. It’s true! When you plan your meals and snacks, that urgent feeling of finding anything to eat, no matter the healthfulness of it is eliminated. If you plan for mangoes and almonds for lunch, you’ll have mangoes and almonds for lunch! If you don’t plan for it, vending machines and fast food await you, full of their sugars and chemicals. We do have meal plans that you can use if you don’t like to do it yourself!!
- Count sugar! There are constant studies being released that show by simply tracking food intake, people will eat better. It’s that simple. You don’t even have to decide you will eat better, just decide to track it. I use My Fitness Pal for tracking all things, including sugar. It’s super easy to use (I can track on my phone or on my computer).
- Intentional Trade-offs. If your kids can identify they have a craving for something sweet, offer fruit. Our Japanese exchange students would tell us they would have fruit for dessert after dinner. Never would they have pie and ice cream! It was just how they grew up, and they didn’t need the heavy desserts we are used to.
- Know the hidden sugar offenders. Just knowing these will make you a smarter shopper. The hidden sugar offenders are those items that you wouldn’t think need sugar, and the homemade version either contains very little or no added sugar. They include: Spaghetti sauce, breads, hamburger and hot dog buns, medications, lunch meats, and sometimes canned beans and vegetables! Make your own, or opt for the brands that do not include added sugar in their ingredient lists.
- Change their super sweet sugar tolerance. As your family reduces their sugar intake and increases the whole foods in their diet, their tolerance for sugar returns to it’s normal and natural state. That means, foods that are high in sugar will start to taste- TOO SWEET! This change is gradual but it definitely happens. If you can commit to keeping added sugar under 25 grams a day- and less if possible, than kids will begin to desire less sweet foods.
So, let’s commit together to reduce the sugar in our families diet. I promise you will all feel so much better!!
What ideas do you have to help others reduce sugar?
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie