I don’t eat a lot of sugar, a few years ago, I did a sugar detox and cut it a lot of it right out of my life. This led to so many health benefits (losing weight, better energy levels. rarely getting colds or illnesses and fighting them off quickly when I do, better skin – I could go on).
But my kids (boys aged 7 and 11) were still eating lots of the white stuff. I wanted them to be able to have a treat but they really were having too much. Some changes were needed. In this article I have detailed some really easy (and lazy) things I now do to keep their sugar intake down. Reading it through after writing, I seem like a bit of a dragon. However, my kids still have far too many treats, in their lunch boxes and after school (I’m working on it!). But the things I do below really do make a big difference.
1.) Choose the reduced sugar versions.
We choose reduced sugar beans, jam and tomato sauce. The kids don’t even seem to notice. I put cheese on their beans on toast and they have never said a thing.
One noticeable thing that did happen was they stopped having tomato sauce as much. I suppose they didn’t crave it as much as there was not as much sugar in it. My eldest son just doesn’t eat it now at all.
2.) Watch what they drink.
My kids only drink water at home. Some people will think this is extreme but they are used to it. They really don’t miss out as we have done this since they were babies and it really cuts down on their daily sugar intake. It really helped that they were only allowed water at school too. Plus it really is lazy, you don’t need to make up squash or pour out juice.
I’m not all no fun though, when we go out to a restaurant or a friend’s house they can have what they want to drink. However, they never ask for fizzy drinks. They just don’t like them (long may it stay that way!).
You don’t have to go the water only route to reduce their sugar intake. But if your kids drink fizzy drinks like coke or lemonade, this is really one to cut out and it will drastically make a massive difference, you can replace with squash. Another one to avoid is juice. Orange juice may seem healthy but it is packed with sugar, they will be better off drinking squash.
If they drink squash, choose the reduced sugar variety and you can just gradually start making their squash weaker as well.
3.)Don’t have the treats at home.
If they aren’t in the house they will eat less, simple as that.
My kids eat treats. We buy them from the local shop. It probably works out more expensive, but they eat less of them and for the sake of a couple of extra pounds it’s worth it in my opinion.
4.) Cut out kids breakfast cereals.
Those things are full of sugar first thing in the morning and will give them a sugar rush which will lead to a dip later when they will then want a sugary snack. This starts a vicious circle for the day.
Just about anything else is better. Toast, crumpets, boiled egg with soldiers, pancakes, weetabix or porridge. If the kids do like cereal there are some better options.The only kid’s cereal I buy is Rice Krispies and they eat it without extra sugar, although it’s still probably best to avoid it. However, it’s a lot better than some of the other
5.) Avoid Mcdonalds and other fast food restaurants
We have a Mcdonalds five minutes drive away. And every Friday we used to visit. From about age 9, my eldest son wouldn’t have a happy meal. So he would be drinking a medium milkshake with his dinner EVERY WEEK! Do you know how much sugar is in these things. A medium chocolate milkshake contains 11.5 teaspoons of sugar. Imagine feeding your kid that much sugar in a spoon, you would never do it, would you?
We actually stopped going because I thought that if we spend £20 on Mcdonalds every week, that’s over a £1000 a year! We could be putting towards a better summer holiday or something else. But the other upside is that they aren’t having a massive intake of sugar every Friday.
6.) Buy savory snacks they like.
Crackers, breadsticks, salted popcorn and cheesy biscuits can all be good substitutes for a huge sugar intake, although you do need to be careful of too much salt.
My tip would be find the savory thing they like which is also good for them if there is one. There almost always is something they will like or that you can get them to like. My youngest son is a bit strange and loves eating raw carrots so we always have these in for him. Although my eldest son wouldn’t touch raw carrots but likes pistachio nuts.
Vegetable snacks are sometimes difficult to get kids to eat. However get them to choose a dip to go with it and it can really encourage them to eat them.
7.) Avoid kids yoghurts and other varieties too.
These can be lethal for sugar. I was putting a yoghurt with chocolate balls in for my kids lunch box thinking a few bits of chocolate with a yoghurt can’t be that bad. But it had 25g of sugar in each one. A twix has 28g of sugar in it, so they almost may as well just had that or another small chocolate bar.
8.) When you go out somewhere, throw a couple of savory snacks for your children in a bag
Also bring a couple of bottles of water. This will stop you buying the chocolate treats and sweets and sugary drinks when you’re out. I always pack pistachio nuts my eldest son likes, a raw carrot for my youngest and sometimes a packet of cheesy biscuits.
So there are your 8 easy tips but if you do have some more time and energy there are a couple of other things you can do to drastically reduce your children’s sugar intake.
Bonus 1 – Cook from scratch as much as possible.
Many processed foods, sauces in jars and ready meals contain hidden sugars. It’s actually really quick and easy to cook food kids like such as pizzas from scratch. For example check out this 20 minute pizza from netmum’s which is really easy to make, kids will love and there are no hidden sugars.
Bonus 2 – Bake treats from scratch.
Baking can be surpringly quick to do, about 10 minutes to make up the mixtures when you know the recipies for a lot of the treats I make. When I have time there are quite a few treats I will cook for the kids. They include no added sugar banana muffins, fairy cakes (with no icing and a lot less sugar) and chocolate chip cookies. When I find a recipe I always cut the sugar in the recipe by half and the kids do not notice and neither do I. Cookie dough is a good one to make because you can make some to freeze and bake them when needed.