How to reduce your child’s sugar intake

I’m not going to beat about the bush – sugar is making us ill and is actually killing us!

This may seem a little over dramatic but it is the truth. You only need to look at organisations such as The World Health Organisation for their view on sugar.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/

And then there’s the burden on the NHS treating diabetes and diabetes related illness. Can you believe that this is £1.5 million an hour – AN HOUR!!!

http://www.diabetes.co.uk/cost-of-diabetes.html

We now consume in 2 weeks what we used to consume in a year in sugar and that’s just in the last 100 years!!!

Sugar is a HUGE problem.

If you saw my Facebook live rant you would start to get an understanding of why we are in this mess. If you missed here just click here to view.

We need to start with our children who are consuming more and more sugary foods. We are raising a nation of sugar addicts!

Sugar is EVERYWHERE. It’s in the school dinners, it’s in the birthday treats, it’s in foods that pretend to be healthy, it’s in drinks, it’s literally everywhere.

Ideally, we want our children having no more than 5 teaspoons of sugar a day but if breakfast contains 3 teaspoons then we need to do something drastic!

So, what are we going to do about it!?

We are going to take back the control and we are going to help our kids grow up without a sugar addiction.

Here are my 10 steps to free your kids from the sugar trap!

1.       Breakfast – ditch the fruit juice and ditch the cereals. The average child has already downed 3 teaspoons of sugar just at breakfast. Start by gradually reducing the sugar. Dilute the fruit with water until you have more water than fruit juice. Serve this in a small cup. Mix cereals to make a gradual change. For more options click here.

2.       Drinks – children only need to drink water and milk. One small glass of diluted fruit juice is fine but apart from that there is no need to have anything else. Drinking sugar is a massive problem. A cola drink can contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar. Yoghurt drinks and flavoured milks are also particularly bad. The sugar free versions are just a cocktail of artificial sweeteners so avoid those as well. If you really have a child that won’t drink plain water, then start by diluting the concentrate gradually over a few weeks. You can also buy some brands that are only flavoured with stevia. This is a natural sugar alternative and is a better option if your child is really struggling.

3.       Snacks – most children will need a snack as they tend to be a lot more active than us adults, however, watch the habit snacking. Give your kids a drink first as most be actually be thirsty rather than hungry. Choose healthy options, bake your own snacks, that way you can see exactly how much sugar is going in and there are plenty of healthy recipes. For more help click here.

4.       Sauces – watch these as you can easily increase your child’s sugar intake using condiments such as tomato sauce. Look at the label and adjust the serving to keep the sugar low. Use low sugar versions or make your own. A tablespoon of salad cream or tomato sauce is the equivalent of ½ tsp of sugar and that soon adds up.

5.       Lunch – school dinners are not great so try to opt for packed lunch for at least some of the days. Speak to your children about choosing healthy options e.g. fruit for dessert. White bread contains sugar and many lunch box staples are also full of the stuff. Buy some small Tupperware pots so you can add natural yoghurt with fresh fruit. Bake your own cereal bars (see above), include high protein foods such as hard-boiled eggs. Fill your kids up on good fats and protein instead of sugar and processed carbs. Lunch is so much more than a jam sandwich plus packet of crisps and a cereal bar.

6.       Read the labels – in my blog on breakfast cereals there is a guide to reading food labels. Use this to check foods you use the most. Check pasta sauces, tinned foods, yoghurts, spreads (don’t get me started on Nutella) and basically anything you buy readymade that isn’t a natural food.

7.       Ditch the word ‘treat’ – it isn’t a treat to feed your child a food full of a substance that could make them ill! Avoid giving sweets and chocolate the treat word. Do not use dessert as a bribe to eat vegetables. Do not make some food good and some bad! Food is food. Your job as the parent is to provide the best and most healthy options you can and then on occasion you may have foods that you know are not so great. The key is not to make these seem special.

8.       Write a food diary – make a note of everything your child eats over the course of a week (and I mean everything), you will soon see where the problems lie.

9.       Swaps – know the biggest offenders such as fruit flavoured yoghurts, breakfast biscuits, cereal bars, jam, peanut butter, cereals in general, white products such as bread, pastries, sauces and so on. Read the label and swap them, for a better substitute. The change for life campaign has a great app plus good advice about swaps here.

10.   Support – join my group for advice, tips and recipes for today’s health conscious family. Just click here to get instant access.

 I really hope that helps you to reduce your child’s sugar intake.

Julie x

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