Just as with any other addiction, sugar craving needs to be controlled. This includes cutting out artificially sweetened foods as well. Getting the sugar habit under control is especially important for children for health reasons as well as weight control.
How can parents help their kids get off the sugar train?
- First of all, those desserts and holiday candies need to be out of the house by now. As the expression goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Stock your cabinets and refrigerator with fruits and vegetables instead of chips, cookies, and candies. Yes, fruits are a source of sugar but they also provide vitamins necessary for good health.
- Start your kids off with a good breakfast. By this, I don’t mean a bagel or bran muffin, but foods more nutritious such as a vegetable omelet, some oatmeal with chopped almonds, and fresh fruit.
- If you are the chief meal planner and one who prepares the meals, eliminate sugars and any sugar derivatives (honey, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose syrup and the like) from the menu. Plan meals in advance, shop intentionally, based on what you need, and prepare the meals at a set time.
- Pack the meals with plant-based foods from the vegetable group, the fruit group, small amount of grains, beans and legumes, and high-quality protein sources from animal or plant protein sources such as seafood, poultry and lean meats.
- Set a good example by not eating foods with sugar. This means eliminating any “diet” soft drinks and other processed, sugary foods as well.
- Take your kids shopping and ask them to help you make dinner or prepare their school lunch. Praise them for their good choices.
- Have pitchers of water handy so your kids can drink this anytime. Kids should drink water rather than any soda or other sweetened drink.
- One of the biggest helps is for parents to teach kids the value of staying active and exercising. When they are playing baseball, hiking or biking they are not as apt to want a piece of cake. Then, have some healthy snacks when they are through, such as nuts or peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks, etc.
- Your child may be tempted to eat sweets, just as you, perhaps, are tempted. Try to get past the temptation by focusing on another activity. Perhaps on some hobby you have, or a pleasant experience you had.
Some like to use visualization when this happens. They imagine and visualize how much healthier they will be without the sugar, or they will see a firm, slender body if they don’t indulge. Sometimes it helps to just tell our body what we need and what we don’t need.
To your success,