Smart ways of reducing your child’s sugar intake

sugar intake

With sugar tax being the hot topic at the moment, I thought it was time we talked about sugar on the blog. I am not some sugar warrior – hey I have a sweet tooth myself and am partial to a chocolate or five – but I do think we all need to be more mindful of our sugar intake and that is especially true when it comes to our sproglets.

I subscribe to the philosophy “everything in moderation”, and while you are never going to sidestep the never-ending deluge of treats bestowed upon your little by well-meaning grandparents, or those seemingly ubiquitous packs of sweets handed out at school on what seems to be every day because it is yet another birthday, there are definitely things we can do – and should do – as parents, to help reduce our children’s sugar intake.

The good news is – it doesn’t have to be painful. Small switches here and there is all it takes to bring down your kiddo’s sugar intake. Here are some of the things we try to do at home:

Talk about healthy choices

Obviously, this is age dependent. If you have a toddler, they are not going to give two hoots about healthy choices, but anything pre-schooler and up you can try and get the conversation around healthy choices going during meal times and in-between. Knowledge is power and if you educate your children about healthy choices, they will soon get the gist.

Cut the juice

Juice on tap during the day?  Gah! Nightmare. In our house, we serve orange juice at dinner time, and squash only as a treat, or for picnics/outings. There is no need for little ones to be guzzling juice all day like there is no tomorrow. If they don’t like the taste of water or find it boring – firstly…suck it up!….secondly there are plenty of other ways to get your children to drink more water than always having to add squash to it.

Be wary of cereals

Again, this one is common sense…and it’s been all over the media. The sugar levels of some cereals is frightening. Yup, of course your angel wants Coco Pops for breakfast every morning, but look for lower sugar alternatives…even those which are marketed as more healthy can have similar sugar levels.

and yogurts!

Yogurts are also another culprit which are marketed as healthy for our children but hidden behind claims of calcium and healthy bone development can be high sugar levels. Look for yogurts with less free sugars and more fruit puree. You could even consider serving natural yogurt with agave nectar if you really want to sidestep this sugar source.

Make from scratch

At the end of the day, the only way to really be in control of your child’s sugar intake is to make it yourself. Even pasta sauces can have a ridiculous amount of sugar in them compared to when you make them from home. The only way to really know is at your own hand.

A treat is just a treat (not for every day)

I know some children who spend most of their day going from treat to treat…but excuse me…a treat is just a treat! It’s fine to offer a treat say after dinner but treats shouldn’t be laid on throughout the day. It should be one strike and you’re out, if at all.

Let’s talk about ice creams and cakes

These really should be just treats and not even the daily kind. Ice creams and cakes are for special occasions, and that’s how they should be. If you really want to dish out the ice cream at home look at making a healthy home-made ice cream. And as for cakes, don’t get me started on some of the ridiculous sugar levels in some recipes! Most of these can be cut by a third….easily…if you’re making them at home.

Swap the after-school snacks

Yes, it might be easier to grab a biscuit and rock up at the school gates but with a little extra consideration, there are some really great lower sugar alternatives you can start getting your children on to. Simple things like breadsticks and strawberries, apple and peanut butter, cheese and grapes and the like.  Read on for more inspiration on healthy after-school snacks.

Make your own ice lollies

OK, we’re still a far cry away from ice lolly weather but when the temperatures heat up I’m betting your littles will be demanding ice lollies left right and centre like you’re the flipping ice lolly bunny. Instead of stocking up the freezer with store bought ones which can be insanely sugary, I promise you it’s super quick and easy to make your own. Here’s how to make your own ice pops.

Be smart about biscuits

We have a total biscuit monster at home, who would happily chomp on cookies all day long if I let her – eat your heart out Cookie Monster. So if your little loves a biscuit and you don’t have time to make your own, look for more wholesome options like Nairn’s biscuit range which has 40% less sugar than the average biscuit…they are a fave in our house.

So that’s my little two cents about how we try to keep a handle on sugar in this house, and some ideas on how you can try and reduce or better manage your children’s sugar intake.

Smart ways of reducing your child's sugar intake

Are you concerned about your children’s sugar intake? What tips do you have to share on cutting their sugar consumption? Do leave a comment and share.

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  1. Apart from the first things to cut out it is not so much the obvious things we need to watch out for but more what we perceive as healthy foods as it continuously surprises me how much manufacturers sneak in everywhere!

  2. My kids and I are guilty of the after school jam buttie or biscuits etc but then we are predominantly healthy eaters everywhere else in the daily food intake and they thankfully don’t run for the hills screaming at the mere mention of broccoli or quinoa That said, i do know that they’d live on Nutella and sweets every day if i allowed it. And don’t get me started on cocopops and all that utter crap that ought to be banned! No box of chocolate-coated cereal has ever entered my house and never will! Shame on you food manufacturers.

  3. You might not guess from my website, but we’re trying to limit the sugar our kids have. Cooking from scratch is really important for us as we know exactly what goes into our food that way. We also limit how many sweet treats our kids get. If/when we bake, we give away as much as possible so the kids can get a sample but don’t guzzle down too much! #coolmumclub

  4. I have a really fussy eater which can make it quite hard to do anything let alone cut out sugar but I try where I can. I’m hoping as he gets older it will get easier! #coolmumclub

  5. We are really trying hard with this! Yogurts and things marketed as healthy have been the worst! #coolmumclub

  6. Some handy tips here, we’ve got rid of the yoghurts and really sugary cereals. It’s the ‘proper’ treats that are hard to cut back on like chocolate and biscuits as we want them too! If we don’t have them in the house it makes it a lot easier! #coolmumclub

  7. Thanks for this. I’m a bit of a Sugar Fascist in normal life. Then I feel they can have a cake or some choc for treats. We don’t do squash, just natural yoghurt with fruit on top. And the kids, 5 and nearly 7, still believe me that they don’t like sweets. (Imagine Sugar Fascist evil laugh here!) #coolmumclub

  8. I love this! My eldest has such a sweet tooth and I am battling through the day to get her to eat healthy snacks… #coolmumclub

  9. Yogurts are the worst. Tricksy little things that my little darling inhales. I trick him with natural yogurt and smashed strawberries. He thinks he’s winning with a fancy fruit corner and i feel better for the strawberry bashing #coolmumclub

  10. I find it really frustrating that breakfast cereal is so unhealthy! I spend ages trying to find healthy ones as I don’t like the thought of my kids starting the day with a sugar rush. I’ll give the lolly ideas a try, they sound yummy! The after school snacks are helpful too, thank you. #CoolMumClub

  11. This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I wrote a post on the issue (live saturday) after having a bit of an epiphany watching Britains Fat Fight last night. I don’t know why I’d had my head in the sand for so long, but times up. I literally filled a bin bag with sweets that had built up in the cupboard, rethought breakfast and packed lunch entirely, and even said no to a well meaning Mum offering my child a lollipop (after gym club aargh!). I’m on a mission…
    Def going to give those ice lollies a go!
    Just call us the #coolmumclub sugar police lol.

  12. Great tips. Because I had gestational diabetes, I never gave my babies anything other than water and milk to drink (unless there was no choice). That trained them to love water. Now that my little girl is older she would drink some juice but not everyday and no more than once a day. #coolmumclub

  13. Great tips, I think I need to get rid of the yoghurts! I wish sweets weren’t brought in when its childrens birthdays at school. I’ve not done it on my daughters birthdays and I seem to have got away with it so far – meany mum!! #coolmumclub

  14. Yoghurts you say? Gulp. It was only the other day I was wondering how on earth an almighty sugar rush could have descended on us, when no extra sugar could have been consumed. Blinking yoghurt it must have been. #coolmumclub x

  15. My son like me has a very sweet tooth and I am definitely keen to cut his sugar intake, these are all great tips! I never once thought to check the yoghurts. #coolmumclub

  16. Really helpful post, as I love the ice cream recipe! Also interesting to hear Nairns do biscuits. Im always trying to look at how to cut sugar down ,as its so addictive #coolmumclub

  17. These are really good tips, and I’m happy to see that the Nairn’s biscuits haven’t just replaced the sugar with sweeteners, as so many others do. Many of the sweeteners can be worse for your health than sugar, so that’s also worth thinking about when making choices about treats etc. It sounds like you got a really good regime going in your house! xx #CoolMumClub

  18. Great tips! I’ve always been pretty conscious about sugar intake with Taylor, but it has been fairly easy since she’ll eat pretty much anything I give her – sugar or no sugar! Harry on the other hand is a lot fussier and I can see it being more of a challenge, but you’re right, it is about being smart and looking for healthier alternatives xx #coolmumclub

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