Tips to Eliminate Added Sugar from Your Child’s Diet
Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle
Added sugar is possibly the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.
It can have harmful effects on metabolism and it contributes to a number of diseases, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, however it seems to be an ingredient that American’s cannot escape. It is in many processed foods, even foods that you wouldn’t think should have added sugar in them.
If you think your family is consuming too much sugar, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you cut it back in your diet!
1. Out of sight, out of mind
If added sugar is a problem in your house, get those foods out of your house! One trip to the grocery store or farmers market and you can turn your pantry from a sugary mess to a healthy stop for a quick snack. Focus on buying whole foods like vegetables, fruit, and meat, and staying away from processed foods.
2. Read the Label
This may seem obvious, but we all know how easy it is to forget to check the labels on the foods you buy. Sugar can be sneaky and can be hiding in places you wouldn’t expect in your foods; like salad dressings, peanut butter, mayonnaise, bacon, sausage, lunch meats, chicken broth, crackers, bread, and even baby food. Beyond the word “sugar” on a label, what should you be looking for? Glucose, Sucrose, Fructose, Maltose, Lactose, Galactose are the most common words for the naturally occurring sugars. If you are trying to eliminate as much sugar as possible, these are things you will want to avoid. However, if you are looking for added sugars and those not so healthy sugars, these should definitely be on your list to avoid: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin,
3. Offer Water
Kids should be drinking more water than anything else. Milk comes in as a good second option because of its nutrients, but if your child is over 2 opt for 2%, 1%, or skim milk so they aren’t consuming excessive calories. Juice is advertised as a good option for kids, but most of the time a serving of juice has more sugar and calories than a can of soda. Juice also has much less in terms of nutritional content because there is no fiber in juice. It is much better to eat a piece of fruit than drink fruit juice. Soda is an even worse choice of beverage; it has no nutrients, plenty of empty calories, and can do more harm to your body than good.
Water is always the best option. If your kids think water is boring, try mixing it up with some infusions like these from Lauren Conrad.
Smoothies can be great for breakfast on the go or for an afternoon snack before dinner. It can also be a good way to “hide” some of the foods your kids should be eating, but don’t care to, like vegetables. Start with some skim milk, or even better almond milk, frozen fruits, your choice of green veggie(spinach, kale, etc. are great), add some unsweetened yogurt or ice to make the consistency a little thicker, and blend.
The key with smoothies is to not add anything with excessive or artificial sugars and to round it out with a veggie.
5. Have Healthy Snacks On Hand
What is your kids go-to when they want a snack? Crackers, cookies, candy? If its in the house they will eat it (see #1^^), so stock your fridge and pantry with healthy foods instead. Carrots with greek yogurt dip, celery with peanut butter, hummus, fresh fruits, dried fruits, smoothies, homemade snack mixes, air-popped popcorn, cheese, and more. There are so many healthy alternatives to the highly processed foods that seem to find their way into our pantries, but with some smart grocery shopping you can turn your pantry into a healthy and delicious stop for your kids!
6. Avoid the breakfast cereal trap
Breakfast cereal may be doing your kids more harm than good in the sugar department. The options that used to be mainly shredded wheat, corn flakes, or cheerios, have turned into chocolately, sugary overload. While breakfast cereal isn’t inherently bad, most of the options kids go for have much more sugar than they need to eat in an entire day, let alone in one sitting. If cereal is still the choice of breakfast in your house, opt for something with no added sugar, and stay away from those “kiddie” cereals.
7. Monitor your kids TV viewing habits
Have you ever noticed the types of foods in the commercials during your kids’ favorite television show? Marketers know the key to brand loyalty is to start early and encourage addictive buying habits. They also know that children usually have some sort of say in what their parents buy for them at the store, so they target the kids. If you are paying attention to what your kids see on TV you will be thrown for less of a loop when they ask you to buy something new at the store. If this happens to you, check into what it is they say they want to try, and if its packed full of sugar, try to compromise on something a little more healthy.
8. Walk the talk
You can’t expect your kids to make healthy choices when it comes to food if you aren’t doing so first. Kids are like sponges, they will absorb what they see you doing, and duplicate that. Help them to make healthy choices by making healthy choices yourself first, and you will set them up for success later on in life.
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