How to teach your kids about sugar

This blog post has been written by Rebecca Boyd from Secret’s Organics Box; a business offering a monthly subscription service to a surprise box filled with organic goodies. Rebecca is also a mother and is sharing with us today how she teaches her daughter about sugar.

 No matter how hard I have tried over the last couple of years with my daughter, and despite my best efforts to limit her sugar consumption, she knows all about it. One of her first words was chocolate (even though I hadn’t given her any) and her eyes light up when she sees a bowl of lollies.  I know this comes from outside influences, and it’s not realistic to stop her from being exposed to that, so how do you teach your kids about sugar and why they should limit how much they have? I don’t think that scaring the living daylights out of them is going to be all that beneficial and confining them to home isn’t realistic either. So what’s the best approach? I strongly believe that it all comes down to educating them from a young age, planning out meals in advance (and involving them in the process) and keeping it real.  

Whilst I realise my daughter is still pretty young, and not old enough to understand everything I know about sugar, I do know I can create an environment that she enjoys so that she doesn’t look to sugar laden foods as treats but rather as something that she may be given on the odd occasion. So, here’s what I do:

Open them up to the world of food:

Firstly, I have ensured right from an early age to open my daughters palate to as many flavours as possible. She loves all kinds of foods that most kids would turn their noses up at.  At the supermarket, when other kids ask for a cocktail sausage from the deli (yep, even they contain sugar), my daughter is pointing to the stuffed olives.  She has a very varied palate and loves foods like saurkraut, olives, pickles and Sushi.

Make water their drink of choice:  

Apart from the occasional glass of milk, my daugher only drinks water, and isn’t interested in fruit juice or soft drink. When she is old enough to understand, I plan to make sure she knows how much water she should be drinking a day and why.  I will also show her how much sugar is in many of the drinks on the market using visual aids. I’ve heard from numerous sources of great success measuring out the sugar content and placing it alongside kids favourite drinks so they can physically see how much sugar is in there and understand why its not good for them. As a reference 4grams of sugar = 1 tsp if you want to try this out.

Plan Ahead:

I plan out all of my daughters meals, particularly her snacks, a week in advance. Snacks are the easiest way to fall over to the many sugar laden options on the market.  Look at most “kid friendly” snacks out there, targeted for kids and promoted as healthy options, and you will find they have on average 3-4 tsp in a single snack (the recommended sugar intake for an adult is 6 tsp a day).  We bake snacks most weeks and I involve her in the process of this, talking to her about it as I go, so that eventually she will understand why we do it and how it benefits her.  Any snacks that I do buy from the supermarket are all natural, contain low levels of sugar or only naturally occuring sugars and no other artificial ingredients.  She also eats a lot of fruit and vegetables and loves apples, carrots and cherry tomatoes.

Make healthy snacks, treats:

My daughter sees healthy snacks that most kids would turn their noses up at, as special treats.  Bananas, apples, mini vegetable quiches, carrots with hummus, and Sushi, are all “treats” we enjoy together.  I’m constantly reaffirming that she will get a treat if she behaves and she gets excited when she is rewarded with them.  

Keep it real:

The reality is that kids are going to be exposed to foods you don’t want them to eat.  When we go to birthday parties and friends houses, I let her have a bit of free reign.  Its’ actually pretty liberating and I’m often impressed with her choices; it’ss not unusual for us to go to a birthday party and for me to find her hovering over the vegie dip platter while the other kids are showing down on chocolate cake.  But sometimes she does go for that piece of cake, fairy bread or something else equally sugary, and that’s’ fine.  She eats a little, runs around like a crazy person, burns off the sugar and then wants a cuddle so its a win, win!

I figure moderation is the key.  Will she have a chocolate mud cake at her birthday?  No doubt!  Will she eat it?  She might have a bit.  Is that going to change her overall outlook on food?  I don’t think so.  As long as I continue to educate her on what she should be putting in her body, and how too much sugar isn’t good for her I think she will grow up to appreciate better foods more often.

Hopefully this helps give you a few ideas on how to change your kids perspective on sugar, and how to help them make better choices for their future.

Good luck!

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