It might seem like an interesting time of year to talk about this, since holiday time is typically one of more indulgences, but I do think that it is so important for us to stay aware of the amount of sugar our kids are eating (and us too of course!). Sugar is a habit that can be tough to break. In fact, many people don’t realize just how much sugar they eat every day. It is often worse for children who tend to eat things parents are unaware of. That makes it even more important for parents to be vigilant at home. If you can tame that sweet tooth it will go so far to improving your kids’ health.
Track What They Eat
The first step to taming a child’s sweet tooth is to actually take a look at what they’re eating. You may be surprised to learn how much sugar is in the foods they eat. Cereal, ketchup, bread and of course snacks are all full of sugar. Track what your child eats and read the labels. Make notes of how much sugar they eat and begin to plan how you can make changes.
Tame It Slowly
Sugar is actually something that many people, children included, are addicted to. Our bodies become reliant on the sugar for energy. You experience highs and lows in your blood sugar. When the low sugar levels hit, you crave more sugar. It can be a never-ending cycle. If your child consumes a lot of sugar, they may be addicted. That means if you simply eliminate the sugar, they’re going to experience withdrawal.
Sugar withdrawal can include a number of symptoms. They include insomnia, stomach distress, headaches and fatigue. It can be quite unpleasant. And chances are you’re going to see some very unpleasant behavior changes while your child is going through withdrawal. It’s tough! I’ve seen many kids in my practice going through food withdrawal, and it’s important to go slowly.
Instead of going cold turkey, start making small changes to your child’s diet. Gradually decrease the amount of sugar in their diet. Replacing sugary foods with low-sugar substitutes is much easier. Simple things like replacing jam or jelly with a low-sugar/no added sugar alternative or buying bread without added sugar are a great start. Water down fruit juice and eliminate soda from their diet.
Notice the Change
As your child consumes less and less sugar, you’ll notice a difference in their health and behavior. They may even notice a difference. They may feel more energetic. They may feel more in control of their emotions and they may be able to focus for longer periods of time. It is definitely motivation to continue reducing sugar in their diet.
Children may be resistant to the idea of reducing sugar. You may have to be subtle about your sugar reduction plan. Take an inventory of what your children eats on a regular basis and how much sugar they’re consuming. Make a plan to gradually replace sugary foods with healthier ones. Little by little you can tame your child’s sweet tooth and help them live a long and healthy life.