Don’t look now, but something is hiding in your children’s food. There’s no need to be alarmed because it won’t jump out and bite, but it’s still pretty dangerous. It’s called sugar and it’s in almost everything kids and adults eat. However, it’s the refined stuff, the inorganic version that plays havoc with the younger generation’s health. Read on for ideas to help lower your children's sugar intake.
Sugar is in almost everything kids and adults eat. It’s the refined stuff, that is bad. Read on for ideas to help lower your children's sugar intake.
Aside from the obvious teeth cavities, too much sugar can impact everything from blood pressure to cholesterol. And, that’s without mentioning how it plays with their weight or concentration levels. Kids who eat lots of sweet things struggle with fatigue and their brain power suffers as a result. Something needs to change, and it needs to happen now.
There are lots of problems that get in the way, though. First of all, it’s tough to buy food that isn’t high in lactose or glucose. Also, kids love these products and don’t want to switch to a healthier alternative because they’re tasteless and boring. Even at a young age, they understand topics far too perceptively! Thankfully, because they’re children, it’s possible to tweak their diet without realizing. Check out these sweet diet hacks if you want to lower your children’s sugar intake.
Kids turn to sweets after dinner. They are still hungry and want something delicious to stop their stomachs from rumbling. Plus, it’s a treat which children get used to and you don’t fancy telling them the privilege has been revoked. There will be uproar. The good news is you don’t have to thanks to a fiber-filled diet. Fiber is a nutrient which is insoluble and takes time to digest. As a result, the stomach feels fuller for longer and snacks aren’t as appealing.
Fruits and vegetables are the main sources of fiber, which is why you should serve extra portions. Research suggests they need around seven pieces per day so don’t worry about overloading their bellies. As a rule, parents should stick with the tried and tested as they know kids won’t complain. If there is something they already like vegetable-wise, serve it with most meals. Or, find a way to incorporate it such as a vegetable curry with lots of herbs and spices.
If they insist on dessert, encourage them to eat fruit. Although it contains sugar, it’s the right kind and won’t rot their teeth or lead to diabetes.
Of course, fiber won’t always stop them from feeling hungry and snacks are inevitable. However, you shouldn’t be afraid of giving them something to chew on; you need to be strategic. A perfect example is processed foods. Often coming in a vacuum-sealed packet, they are cheap and easy and always to hand. Unfortunately, the majority of them are full of salt and sugar as they use them as preservatives.
Fresh snacks are the answer as you can be sure they don’t contain hidden additives. Nothing in a carrot stick is going to shock you or come as a nasty surprise. To make sure you are in control of the snacking situation, it’s imperative to come prepared. Planning what snacks the kids are going to eat ahead of time prevents you from reaching for whatever is on the shelves at the supermarket. A hint: it’s usually chocolate, biscuits and a variety of candies.
While it seems as if the kids won’t be into healthy alternatives, there are some that are big hits. Nuts or trail mix is the perfect combination of sweet and savory; plus, there are different textures. Middle-class dips, such as hummus, are pretty great too. With some low-carb crackers, the kids will devour a tub in no time so please remember to bring reinforcements.
Bait And Switch
Soda has to be the biggest problem a parent faces sugar-wise. The rush they get from it is intense and it makes them want more and more. Seriously, fizzy drinks are like liquid drugs packaged in a can with fancy colors. Getting them off it can be tough, but there are alternative healthy drinks for kids including flavored water. It might not be Coca-Cola yet it adds another dimension to an otherwise boring drink. And, most of them don’t add any extra sugars.
Another option is to make thick smoothies. A shake has two advantages: it lines the stomach and it’s homemade. This means it acts like fiber and fills them up so that they don't want to overindulge, and you get to control what goes in it. An excellent piece of advice is to throw fruit in a blender and mush it until it’s a liquid. There’s no need for extra sugar because apples, oranges, strawberries et al have plenty.
When the above fail, switch them from full-fat soda to the light options. Coke Zero might not be healthy but it’s better than drinking a can of the real stuff. These days, every soda company has a no-sugar option so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Follow The Leader
Children are impressionable and they look to their role models for guidance. Forget about sports stars, actors and Instagram famous models – they aren’t good examples. Instead, look closer to home because that’s where their true mentors lie. After all, you are the person who gets to offer advice and help mold their decisions.
With that in mind, look inward and analyze your diet. Are you eating too much sugar? If the answer is yes, you need to transform your habits and lead by example. Parents who say one thing and do another run the risk of appearing hypocritical and negating the message.
Anyway, doing it as a family is an incredibly powerful way to bond and enjoy the challenge. You can use one another as sounding boards to come up with creative ideas to cut down on your relative sugar intake. An excellent place to begin for grown-ups is with coffee. Caffeine isn’t healthy, and neither is the spoon of sugar you add to make it taste sweet.
Like everything as a parent, helping your kids means you have to help yourself first.