If you’re like most parents, you know that keeping sugar out of your child’s diet can be easier said than done. Many of your child’s friends are eating sweets and serving them at parties and school. Advertising is relentlessly targeting your child as a potential consumer of their sugar-packed products. Plus, it’s all too tempting to give your child a sugary treat sometimes, just for the moment, to ease the parenting burden.
Fortunately, you can significantly reduce the sugar in your child’s life without them even realizing it’s happening. Imagine your child crunching on healthy foods and snacks. Imagine the relief from the constant whining and begging for sweets. Last but not least, imagine the strong and healthy teeth! Here are four powerful ways to take control and put sugar in its place. It’s not hard, but the benefits are dramatic!
- Limit sweets to one specific time of day
This is the first step to taking control of your child’s sugar intake. If you set a specific time during the day for sweets, say having dessert after dinner, then it becomes a family rule. If your child starts asking for sweets at the supermarket or the mall, you simply remind them of the rule. With some reinforcement, your child will start to recognize the structure and respond favorably and the requests for sugary treats should die down. You don’t have to always be “the bad guy” anymore.
- Watch out for those “hidden” sugars
Lots of processed foods have hidden sugars that you wouldn’t expect. For example, you’d be absolutely shocked by the amount of sugar in barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, ketchup, salad dressing, and other condiments. For this reason, it might be a good idea to make less sugary versions of these items at home. Your child won’t really know the difference, and neither will any adults in the house. As your family’s taste buds adjust, you can lower the amount of sugar even further.
- Limit the amount of sugary drinks
According to a study in Pediatrics Journal, every sugary drink increases your child’s potential for obesity by 60%. That’s a staggering statistic. Not only that, but sugary drinks are an absolute disaster for teeth. Even juice intake should be limited. The American Academy of Pediatrics gives the green light to a half cup of juice (4-6 ounces) per day for kids ages one to six. So serve your child water, dilute juices and milk with water, and save sugary beverages for special occasions.
- Put healthy foods within your child’s reach
Out of sight, out of mind. You should take all sugary foods out of the view of your child, especially when they’re young. Do a clean sweep of the lower shelves of your kitchen cabinets and refrigerators and fill them with healthy fruits and veggies. This is training your child to get their own food and promoting their ability to make healthy choices. Over time, their sugar cravings will fade and they will grab the good stuff. This habit will serve them for a lifetime.