5 Sweet Ways for Reducing Kids Sugar Intake

    Toddler with lollipop looking skeptical
    Photo Aurimas Adomavicius|CC

    Fine-tune your child’s taste buds by limiting sweetened products during childhood. You’ll be setting the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy eating with these simple tips for reducing sugar intake.

    Simple Tips for Reducing Sugar Intake of Children

    #1  Limit drink options.

    Water or milk? That’s it. You can reduce a huge percentage of unnecessary sugars by simply removing soda and juice from your child’s diet.

    What to do if your toddler cries for juice? The simple answer is just do not buy it. “We do not have any juice in our house. Would you like water or milk?” Repeat, and stick with it.

    #2 Teach moderation.

    Teaching moderation is a lifelong process that requires practice and persistence. The problem is kids love sugar, and it’s hard to stop.

    Sugar-free diets are practically impossible for children.  There is too much hidden sugar in foods, and social pressure is difficult to avoid.

    Instead of controlling the environment (a.k.a keeping them away from sugar), parents can focus on instilling clear guidelines and communication with their children. Be direct:  “Another cookie is not a healthy choice; let’s choose this celery and peanut butter instead.”

    If you choose a sugary treat,  pick a small option. For example, jelly beans have less than 4 calories, and a dum-dum lollipop is about 10 calories.  Set limits: “We only have a few jelly beans.  It’s not good for your body to eat the whole bag.”

    #3 Create non-sugar traditions.

    Do you crave sweets at holidays, or when sad, or need a reward, or “special treat”?

    While you may be tempted to give your child a happy fix with a sugary treat, remember you are shaping their future psychological responses and memories to sugar. Ask yourself, “How can I express love without sugar?”

    For example, have a special family plate for displaying healthy treats during celebrations. A  lasting holiday tradition can still include Grandma’s homemade chocolate cake, but do you really need the bags, and bags, and bags of additional sugary treats?

    Focus on what is truly meaningful about traditions, rather than how sweet they taste.

    [quote_center]Our childhood memories of sugar impact what we find comfort in later in life.[/quote_center]

    #4 Eliminate sugary rewards or punishments.

    Threatening to take away dessert, or rewarding a child with candy for good behavior creates a sense that sugar is something to be desired and links their future eating habits with unhealthy choices.

    #5 Swap out the sugar.

    It’s important that your kids enjoy how healthy food tastes rather than forcing them to eat (or not eat) certain foods. The ultimate goal is to teach kids how to make healthy choices on their own and to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.

    Try adding fruit to plain yogurt, rather than eating presweetened brands.  When you cook, choose recipes with lower added sugar.

    By substituting sugar for higher nutritional value foods, you are positively effecting their future taste buds!  Now that’s sweet!