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.
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.
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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