Let’s start with the WHY? Why do I need to reduce my family’s sugar consumption when I’m not fat? My kids aren’t fat! I’m not going to worry about their sugar. Have you ever thought this? I know I have. The truth is sugar is one of the most addictive things out there and it can affect your overall health. It’s not just about looking good friends!
We all know that sugar can cause health problems. As a nation, we are heavier than previous generations and we are being diagnosed with chronic illnesses such as Type II Diabetes, heart disease and mood disorders earlier and earlier in our lives. We have increased cravings for sugar and carbohydrates resulting in high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Even those of us not dealing with chronic disease experience more frequent mood disorders, brain fog and energy issues as a result of too much sugar.
The problem is that sugar is in EVERYTHING! Salad dressings, soups, bread, yougurt, and spaghetti sauces all contain sugar. My mom even noticed that there was sugar added to her canned kidney beans. Really? It’s not easy to reduce sugar when your family is addicted so today I am sharing 10 simple tips to help you reduce added sugars for your whole family. Day by day with these simple tips, you will helping your family to live a healthier life.
10 Simple Tips to Help Reduce Added Sugars for Your Whole Family
1. Cut down on processed and packaged foods. Yes, you knew that one was coming. It is my list after all. I promise you this works though. Food manufacturers pump their food full of sugar so you become addicted and keep coming back for more. You are much less likely to add sugar to your homemade soup than the food factories.
2. Choose whole fruit and water for school activities and sports. I like to take a variety of fruit for the kids to choose from. Yes, kids are picky so give them a choice! Check out Pinterest for ways to make your fruit extra fun for school parties.
3. Steer clear of “fat free” products. That goes for “reduced fat” and “low fat” too. These products always have more sugar than their full-fat counterparts. Usually, they use high fructose corn syrup which easily converts to fat. So, what’s the point?
4. Replace soda with water. Ok, here it the deal. You will get used to drinking water. I hear it all of the time. “I don’t like water.” “I want to drink something with flavor.” When it comes to reducing sugar for your family this is probably the most important switch you can make. Let your family drink liquid candy (soda) all day or provide them with a drink that is good for them and free of harmful ingredients. The choice is yours. I’m not your boss. Just my kids’ boss! I like to add a squirt of lemon to my water for more flavor and enjoy fruit infused water once in a while as well. There are ways to add that all important flavor to your water.
5. Use spices to add flavor to your meals rather than sugar. You want your food to taste great, so experiment with spices and really boost the flavor power of the meals you make. I reduce sugar in our morning oatmeal by adding lots of cinnamon and vanilla.
6. Load your kitchen with lots of colorful foods. Your family is going to want to eat something when you make all of the packaged goodies disappear. Don’t starve your family! Replace those sugary snacks with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Make sure you have plenty of homemade dip on hand too.
7. Do away with the candy dish. I’m amazed at how many homes I visit that have candy dishes sitting out or use candy as rewards for good behavior. Kids don’t need the extra sugar any more than we do.
8. Make sure you are reading ingredient labels. That means you flip the pretty packaging over and read each ingredient. Know the common names for sugars. There are a lot of different names for sugar and you will often see more than one listed in your favorite packaged foods. The ingredients are listed in order from the most to the least. A packaged food listing multiple sugars near the top of the list would be one that I would put back on the shelf. For a list of 61 different sugar names, you can look here.
9. Make sure treats are treats and not a regular part of your food intake. Purchase high quality treats for your family and only offer them on an occasional basis. We really have become a society that thinks we need a treat for everything. A few years back I threw my hands up in exasperation and said to my husband, “Why can’t I be the one to give my kids a treat?” What I meant was that my kids are given treats at school and activities so often that they really don’t need any additional treats from me. Come on moms, let’s take treats back! I think we moms deserve to be the ones that spoil our children once in a while. It’s not a treat if they get it all of the time though. You should see the joy in my kids’ eyes when I decide we are going to the bakery to get donuts. They start doing a happy dance and grab their shoes right away in case my decision is a moment of insanity that will quickly pass. You don’t get that happy dance if they eat donuts every day.
10. Lead by example. If you eat healthy, your kids will too. You are the single biggest influence in their life. As they get older, they will make more of their own food decisions. Make sure “normal” food for them is healthy food.
Once you remove large doses of sugar from your diet, you will notice that fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foods just taste better. I’ve heard it compared to what happens when a person quits smoking and they feel like they are tasting foods for the first time. Little by little, you can reduce sugar in your family’s diet and they will hardly miss it. As time goes on, brain fog will disappear, energy will improve, and you can look forward to a future where you are doing all you can to fight the onset of chronic disease for you and your family.
Let’s get the conversation going! What are your issues with sugar? What do you find the toughest sugar to avoid in your diet? How do you feel when you have large amounts of sugar? Have you kicked sugar out of your life? What issues do you see with your children when trying to reduce their overall sugar intake?