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8 Ways To Reduce Your Kids Sugar Intake


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.

8 Ways To Reduce Your Kids Sugar Intake. Let's committ together! While you don't have to eliminate sugar, these 8 simple ways will definitely help you reduce it!

We have 8 ways you can reduce your families consumption of sugar, that should not lead to complaining or hassle!

  1. 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)
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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!!
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?

Natalie Monson

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

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Here’s my question…I buy my 10 month old (and often my almost 3 year old eats them as a snack) a variety of the “smoothie fruits” as they call them- organic baby food pouches (Earth’s Best, Ella’s Organic, Plum, Happy Baby and Happy Toddler) that say they have servings of fruits and vegetables and are “all natural, no sugar added,” but have 11-17 grams of sugar listed in the ingredient list. While I do make some of my own baby food, we are going to be traveling out of the country and using some of these to supplement. 2 pouches of baby food would put my child over the “25 g/day rule.” Suggestions?

Hi Korie!
The 25 grams per day is for “added sugars”, meaning if the products you are speaking of contain sugar, high fructose corn syrup or something like that in the ingredient list. If there is only fruit in the ingredient list, we consider it a fabulous source of calories, and the sugar is only coming from fruit- which we completely support!! Of course, if there is ANY sugar added to the fruit in your ingredient list, it’s impossible to know which sugar grams are coming from the fruit and which are coming from added sugar. So, I would avoid them altogether!

Good luck on your trip!

Love this!

I still can’t convince certain adult males in my life (not my hubby) that juice is a “junk” food. They think juice is a replacement for actual fruit. We don’t have soda at home, juice only sometimes, so I don’t feel bad when my kids have the occasional sweet drink at a birthday party.

So true about craving something sweet… We only have “desserts” for celebration, so our girls consider things like fruit to be dessert. We busted out strawberries after lunch with friends one day, and the daughter kept asking me when they would have dessert.

And I have noticed that I can’t do sweets anymore because I’m just not used to having it in my diet, which is a good thing. I’m pretty sure that I do eat more than I should since there are sugars hidden in prepared products I buy from the store. It’s a relief to know that I’m not crazy for not letting my family have juice and desserts on a regular basis. Thankfully, my girls love fruits…more than I do, I think. :p

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Watch for ingredients called fruit concentrates (ex. apple juice concentrate)… It should be considered added sugar. Anything fruit puree is fine — it’s the concentrate that’s not good.

One good thing we can do in order to reduce the sugar intake is not to stock any food with high sugar content in our house, shall we say we should start first “cleaning” our refrigerator, with that, we can somehow avoid kids to go back and fort to refrigerator to get some sweets and other food, we should at least stock fruits as they are best alternative. Smoothies (fruit or vegetable) really work great and at the same time very healthy to drink,

Kids love to eat sweets, they always consider it compared to fruits and vegetables which is healthy for them. we cannot avoid it as sweets are really good and delicious to eat. But kids can easily learn and adapt, if we properly monitor and guide them, they will tend to go in to the right direction of healthy living. Of course family bonding is very important.