With Easter just around the corner your children will be bombarded with sugar laden chocolate and sweets on all fronts!
So how do you help your kids to have a healthy relationship with sugar with so much temptation? Read on…
The war on sugar
In recent years, it seems like the war on sugar is everywhere. From labels and nutritional information on packets and menus, to adverts with ‘sugar free’ products, it can be easy to get obsessed with what’s in your food.
Whilst it’s important to be aware of what you’re eating, it’s also important to make sure that it doesn’t take over your thoughts and stop you enjoying the occasional treat. If you’re a parent, this goes for both you and your child – being super strict and preaching about the dangers of sugar is likely to make it harder for your children to have a balanced relationship with their diet too. On the other hand, it’s important for all of us not to consume too much sugar, in order to avoid health issues like high cholesterol
So, how can you help your children understand what they’re eating and make healthy choices, without putting them off enjoying food
? We share our top tips.
Don’t put a blanket ban on sugar
Outright banning an item from the house is unlikely to work, unless you feel super strongly about it. Particularly for older children and teens, it’s actually more likely to make them crave the thing they can’t have – and then keep it from you. Instead, try and make it clear that sugary drinks, sweets and snacks are an occasional thing, rather than something your child should automatically be reaching for every day.
Mimic this in your own behaviour as well. It will be hard for your child to understand why they can’t have something if you’re having a can of fizzy drink every evening with dinner. Equally, it’s beneficial for them to see you enjoying a treat on occasion and not being critical of yourself as you eat it.
Offer healthy snacks
Often, we reach for something pre-packaged and potentially high in added sugars as we need a quick snack, and don’t have time nor the inclination to prepare something from scratch. Many of us also tend to reach for sugar when we’re feeling low or tired, as a bar of chocolate or a bag of cookies can be comforting.
Instead, make sure that there are a variety of healthier options
readily available to your children, so that they have the choice available to them. When it comes to little ones, cutting up fruit into interesting shapes using cookie cutters can be a great way to make traditionally ‘boring’ food seem more enticing. Otherwise, try:
● Blueberries and yoghurt
● Apple and peanut butter
● Banana on toast
● Red pepper, carrots, celery and hummus
● Avocado on crispbreads or flatbreads
Look at your meals
We’re all busy, and it’s so easy these days to pick up a jar of sauce or a ready meal for family dinner – but these convenience foods often come with a high proportion of added sugars, as well as preservatives. Where possible, try and read the labels to ensure that you know what is going into your food. You don’t have to avoid these products all together, but reading the labels can help you manage your sugar intake throughout the day.
If your kids are old enough, and you have the time, you can try cooking as a family so that they learn to understand and enjoy putting ingredients together. This can also give them the skills they need to prepare their own snacks – saving you the effort of doing so in the process.
A more balanced life
Ultimately, our relationship with sugar is all about balance, and your kids’ understanding of it should be too. Providing choices in the home can go a long way to how your children feel about sweet treats in other settings.
So, to recap, you don’t have to ban sugar, have some tasty healthy snacks to hand and get your children involved in the kitchen.
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