It’s one thing if you’re trying to reduce or eliminate sugar in your own life, but what happens if you want to reduce the sugar intake of the whole family? Every family needs treats now and then, but the down-side of giving the kids sugary treats is real. We’ve all seen the sugar cycle: kids eat sugar, they get hyper, they get irritable, they get “in trouble,” and often times, punished, all because their bodies are trying to process the sweet electricity they just consumed. Is it really their fault?
But wait – should we throw out sugar from kids’ diets completely?
Even with the sugar cycle draw-back, I vote no. I say we start by just cutting back and reducing it until the family is having it in moderation. The World Health Organization says sugar can safely comprise up to 5% of kids’ daily calories, but the American Heart Association says that our kids are eating three times more than that. Maybe we need to tame the beast, not kill it.
How do we cut that number down to size?
Here are 10 Gentle Ways to Reduce Sugar Intake in Your Family.
- Replace sodas. Try La Croix soda with some liquid stevia for a sweet treat. Or, for yourself, see if you can develop a taste for it as is. Try iced coffees (decaf for the kids, which they think is awesome), diffused fruit water, or Kool Aid made with Truvia. There is also, of course, tea!
- Have protein for breakfast. Sugary cereals are easy, it’s true, but you can always whip up a breakfast casserole in the evenings in about five minutes. Just pop it in the fridge before you go to bed, and bake it first thing in the morning.
Easy Breakfast Casserole: Combine 6 eggs, 3/4 c milk, 1t soda and whatever else you love (bacon, sausage, ground beef or turkey, even pepperoni), pour it in a greased casserole pan, top it with cheese, bake it at 350 for about a half hour. This will give your family a strong protein start to their days.
Also, keep boiled eggs on hand. If you boil them for just 7 minutes you can eliminate the gray powdery (yucky) yolk. They’re good that way as is, or you can whip up some egg salad w big pieces of bacon in it (buy it already cooked if you have to). Serve it in a little dish, or make a wrap by rolling some it in a piece of paleo flatbread.
- Stop eating fast food. The hidden sugar in fast food is amazingly high. Check out this link for more information: http://bit.ly/sugarsurprise
- Use a sugar substitute. Xylitol, a popular sugar substitute, is even used in toothpastes like Colgate and Toms of Maine to reduce the acid that causes tooth decay. When it’s used as a sweetener, it doesn’t cause stomach upset if it’s used in moderation, but it can cause diarrhea if you use a lot of it. My concern is that it’s a by-product of corn which is highly modified. The gold standard natural sweetener, though, is stevia, which is from a leaf, so it’s as natural as the tea you had for breakfast. It has no side effects.
- Change desserts. Try banana ice cream: break ripe bananas into chunks and freeze them in gallon bags. Then combine the frozen chunks with 10 oz of prepared clear gelatin and a little almond milk, and you’ve got yourself a dessert as good as DQ could whip up. My husband loves this with chocolate chips in it. Does your family like cake? Try this recipe, and use whatever fruit jam you like in it: strawberry, blackberry, peach, etc. Prefer
a cookiecookies? Try these Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies . You can use regular chocolate chips in them if you like. Much as I dislike sugar en masse, chocolate anything is a happy way to get in your daily allotment of sugar calories. (Read more about that below.*)
6. Keep fruit on-hand. Fruit is basically sugar too, but fiber in the fruit makes it metabolize slowly, preventing sugar shock to the system. Also, buy or prepare veggie sticks the kids can have with dip. Dip always adds to the flavor and fun.
- Read labels. Corn syrup is in just about everything. Corn syrup is genetically modified to by-pass the fullness hormone in the brain, so we eat it and eat it and never feel full. Just say no to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
- Reduce carbs. Carbs are another form of sugar, so until the carbs are cut down, the sugar cravings won’t stop.
- Keep a gentle eye on dairy. Lactose, the natural sugar in dairy products, makes just as much of an impact on our bodies as the stuff in the sugar bowl. One nurse I talked to insisted that it was okay because “it’s natural sugar,” but it’s not okay when someone is sensitive to sugar or when their behavior changes after eating it. Keep this in mind when serving it to the family, and watch for changes in behavior when you serve milk or yogurt. If it’s the probiotics you’re after in yogurt, buy cold capsules from your pharmacy. The USDA only requires yogurt companies to process yogurt for six hours, but it takes a full 24 hours for the milk sugar to be consumed by the good bacteria. That’s why you’ll always see 12 grams of sugar (or more) showing on the labels of grocery store yogurts. But your pharmacist always has live probiotics in the refrigerator, so either buy some to keep on-hand, or just make your own yogurt. It’s easy, it costs pennies to make, you can’t beat the health benefits, and boy is it delicious.
- Use a gentle approach when reducing the family’s sugar intake. Start with having it just on the weekends, or just every other week, or just for special occasions.
No more sugar forever?
*I don’t advocate taking the family, especially the kids, off all sugar entirely and forever, because (most) kids that grow up with that restriction make up for it when they get the chance. Remember, parents’ absolutes are always challenged, so it’s best to save the hard rules for when you really must be adamant about things. A few treats now and then, or a trip to the ice cream shop after a big win, will keep your boundaries looking reasonable in your kids’ eyes and will help them trust your judgement in the bigger picture.
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