Sugar continues to get a bad rap “it’s… addicting, similar to cocaine, causes cancer, causes obesity” etc. So, should we stay away from sugar, take it out of our diet and if so, how?
Well, I am here to tell you we CAN and SHOULD have sugar! What’s important is the amount we have and, maybe even more important, our relationship with it.
If a mother, decides to take a stand against sugar by eliminating all sugar in the household, what do you think her child will do when he/she gets in front of it? Overeat, binge, sugar high etc.
We have all been there…we deprive ourself of X food to then only crave it, finally give-in, and overeat/binge, ending with food guilt. Do you see the cycle? So, this mother, who is only trying to raise healthy children is, in fact, only damaging their relationship with food, and more specifically, sugar.
Completely cutting sugar or any food out (not including food intolerance/allergies) will most likely begin the restrict — crave — binge — guilt cycle, ultimately back firing with a higher consumption of sugar. We want what we can’t have, right? However, It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean you should stock the house with cookies, cakes, and pastries either.
So, how can you help kids have a healthy relationship with sugar?
BE A ROLE MODEL
Kids are always watching us, your relationship with food, sugar, self will rub off on them as well. Majority of the time we are fueling our bodies with tons of colorful whole real foods, and yet we enjoy sugar every so often. And when we do, savor the flavor, sit down together and truly taste and enjoy the food. Sugar makes us happy right, so let’s enjoy and have zero guilt associated with it. Rather than, label food as good or bad, speak of all the powerful nourishing effects of food (healthy strong bones, a brilliant mind, a happy stomach, tall as daddy, strong as mommy etc. etc.)
2. SWAP Added-Sugars for Natural-sugars (when possible):
Frozen, dried, or fresh fruits are always good to have on hand. Choose natural sugars like fruit as they are also packed with vitamins, nutrients, fiber and water. When adding sugar to foods, sugar is sugar, no matter if its agave nectar, coconut sugar or honey. Rather than focusing on the type of sugar in a product, focus on the quantity. What products as we “swap” rather than omit.
- Limit fruit juices, if you do have juice, water it down. I will do water with a ‘splash’ of juice for Gwenny.
- Limit added sugars: instead of adding honey and brown sugar to oatmeal, add ½ a banana or berries. Swap out a coco pebbles for a less added sugar cereal or choose muesli instead of granola. My toddler and I eat the same yogurt as most kid yogurts are loaded with added-sugar. Does your child like peanut butter? Choose a peanut butter with simply peanuts and salt aka no added sugar, Smuker’s all-natural is my go-to. Energy bars, I choose brands that have minimal ingredients. My daughter loves her LaraBars, kids RXbars or Papa Steve’s Vegan bars.
3. Use Food & Sugar as a Reward LESS:
It’s hard to stop “if you eat a good dinner you can have ice cream” aka using sugar as a reward. If children associate sweets/sugar with rewards, they will always want it. Think about training a puppy. If Buddy obeys your command he is rewarded with a treat. Just like we condition dogs with treats, we are conditioning children with sweet aka sugar. So, can we reward children with playing outside, reading an extra book at nighttime, going to the park, the library, a new book, craft, or TV show?