The Sugar Wars – 10 Tips for Cutting Back on Sugar Consumption

Last weekend, while spending the day at a kids’ softball tournament, I found it awful that the ice cream truck was continuously making rounds in the park. Here were 100s of young girls, exercising and sweating their way through the day – drinking tons of water and Gatorade – only to be sucked into the gentle tune of the ice cream truck. Go to a school party – and chances are the kids will be served more sugar on one plate than they require for an entire day (or two). And, check out the grocery carts of most people with children and you will find more sugary drinks and snacks (as well as processed convenience foods containing massive amount of sugar) than you will find fruits and vegetables in the cart.

Worse, is that sugar is EVERYWHERE. According to the Mayo Clinic, although sugar consumption among children is down since 2000, US children are still eating WAY too much sugar, and most of them are getting this sugar in the home – through sugary drinks, sweets and treats, and processed foods. Even that apple juice you might be offering your child is likely laced with a hefty amount of sugar.

The question is, how do we curb our family sweet tooth, and what can we do to ensure that our children are not consuming too many excess (and empty) calories by getting too much sugar?

Image via Flickr/dno1967b
Image via Flickr/dno1967b

The most important thing to do is to read labels.  Certainly, when you are grocery shopping with kids in tow the last thing you want to do is stop and read labels.  I suggest you take an informational trip to the grocery store ALONE and read labels.  If sugar (under any of its surnames such as white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, fructose, sucrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin) is listed as one of the top four ingredients – you should avoid the product. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Image via Flickr/Proxy Indian
Image via Flickr/Proxy Indian

Processed foods – or anything that comes in a box or can – are normally high in sugar because sugar is used as a natural preservative.  Check the labels, and as much as possible try to avoid boxed and bagged food meals. 

Image via Flickr/artist in doing nothing
Image via Flickr/artist in doing nothing

Switch from canned veggies to frozen vegetables.  Frozen veggies (and fruits) have less than half the sugar their canned counterparts do.  And frozen is nearly as convenient as canned food items, and still live up to the heat and eat factor. 

Image via iStock/sundikova
Image via iStock/sundikova

Offer water as the main drink in your household.  Juices, sodas, sports drinks, boxed drinks, flavored waters, Kool-Aid, and even certain milks are packed with sugar.  When children drink sugary drinks, they are basically consuming empty calories that offer no nutritional value.  Offer the sugary drinks as a special treat only – and NEVER before bedtime.  If your child is not fond of water then get creative by freezing fruit in ice cubes or splashing lemon or orange slices into water bottles.  It may take some time, but eventually you will be able to cut out a large source of empty sugar consumption by making the switch to water.  (Plus, it can save a lot of money!) 

Image via Flickr/Ross Elliott
Image via Flickr/Ross Elliott

Stop buying crackers, white pasta, white potato products, white breads, and white rice (anything white equates to sugar), sugary cereals, sweet yogurts, and other convenient foods that are sweetened or preserved by outside sugar sources.  One bowl of Lucky Charms has 10g of sugar whereas the RDA of sugar for children is 6g. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Image via Flickr/tamburix
Image via Flickr/tamburix

Wean your children.  If you and your family are like most families, the break up with sugar will not be pleasant in the beginning.  Rather than go cold turkey, make mild changes a few days at a time to help ease the sweet tooth.  The taste buds become accustomed to sugar in copious amounts.  If you reduce the amount of sugar offered in your home a little at a time it won’t be such a difficult switch. For instance, start with the drinks in your home and implement a water-drinking contest.  Then, start eliminating sweet snacks one at a time.  Replace evening desserts from chocolate or ice cream to cut strawberries in a yogurt dipping sauce. 

Image via iStock/-101PHOTO-
Image via iStock/-101PHOTO-

Be an example for your children!  Your kids will not be motivated to eliminate sugar unless mom and dad are doing the same.  Remember kids learn more by watching than they do by listening – and your example sets the tone for their future health. 

Image via iStock/shironosov
Image via iStock/shironosov

Get the kids involved with the battle against the sugar wars.  Teach your kids to look at labels, and pay attention to serving sizes.  Empower your kids with information, and teach them how to make smart choices when it comes to the food they put into their body.  Help them understand that empty calories – meaning high sugar foods with no nutritional value – won’t help them to grow up to be healthy and strong.  

Image via Flickr/lisaclarke
Image via Flickr/lisaclarke

Sink your teeth into healthy sweetness.  Cherries, apples, oranges, lemons, watermelons, and other fruits all contain natural sugars which can satisfy the pickiest sweet tooth.  Replacing sugary treats and snacks with fresh fruits reduces artificial sugar intake, and adds nutritional value.  

ADVERTISEMENT

Image via Flickr/Eva Blue
Image via Flickr/Eva Blue

Last but not least – don’t completely rule out ALL unhealthy or sugary foods.  There is nothing wrong with a treat every now and then, and kids will face the sugar war as stronger soldiers if you allow sugar in moderation.  If your child thinks they will never be able to eat a cupcake or cookie again, they will feel deprived and actually crave the junk food more.  

What have you done to fight the sugar wars in your own home? Share your tips in the comments! 

Read More

What do you think?

The Sugar Wars – 10 Tips for Cutting Back on Sugar Consumption

Stef Daniel is the 40ish year old, experienced (meaning crazy already) mother of count ‘em…4 daughters (yes, she takes prayers) who have taught her nearly E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G she needs to know about raising kids and staying sane. She hails from a small town in Georgia where she lives with her family in a red tin roofed house (with just ONE bathroom mind you) on a farm - with tons of animals of course. One day, due to her sheer aversion to shoes and her immense lov ... More

Tell us what you think!

4 comments

  1. Moyo says:

    Water is still the best, I agree.
    Thanks for the insight.

  2. Morgan Hart says:

    Some of the tips were helpful-such as the suggestions for switching from canned to frozen veggies, or to add fruit ice cubes to water. It is these specific easy switches tat make a difference, because I’d rather hear what TO buy instead of what NOT to buy. Currently in our home we’re working on drinking more water. My boys eat fairly healthy overall (though there’s always room for improvement), but my older son hates water. I do dilute his juice with water, but am working to get him used to drinking more plain old water:) This is something I’m being much more deliberate about with my 9 month old-giving him more water in his cup over juice. We also do farmers markets, and I will frequently let my 4 year old choose a new fruit or veggie that we then find a recipe for and prepare together at home. This gets him excited to try new foods that are healthy. I will add-as a social worker who has worked for several years with abused kids- PLEASE REMOVE the picture of a little boy in his underwear-it is rather unnecessary!

  3. Cathlyn says:

    Recommendation: Start out when they are babies. I went to the farmers market every weekend. I made my daughters baby food from fresh fruit and veggies I got at the farmers market. Last year we started planting our own veggies. My daughter loves being able to go outside and pick fresh green beans off the plant and eating them. My daughter is 3 years old and I can tell you after watching it happen, she prefers healthy food over junk food. We took her to one of my husbands comany events and they had a big platter of cookies next to a platter of fruit. Our daughter went for the fruit and always does. We buy fresh fruit and veggies as much as possible. She actually prefers to eat her veggies over the rest of her meal half the time. We limit her juice consumption since she had a reaction so now all juice I give her is either freshly made or something that has next to no sugar at all. The best thing is to start from the beginning, day one when you bring them into this world. It makes it easier as time goes by.

Advertisement
[x]
×

EverydayFamily.com Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date


By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend