Sugar is everywhere. When you start reading the labels on the back of packaged goods, you soon realise that you and your children are probably consuming sugar without realising.
But does your body really need all that sugar?
Your body requires carbohydrates to function, which are broken down into sugar in the body. This sugar is essential for your body to create energy just like a car needs fuel to run. However, it is not necessary to include sugary foods or added sugars in the diet for your body to produce energy. In fact, eating too much sugar can cause all sorts of issues including nutritional deficiencies, weight gain, cavities, weak immune system in children, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, heart disease and much more.
Now is a good time to assess how much sugar your children are consuming every day. Treats are ok of course as long as they are occasional (once or twice a week).
By gradually following the tips below (go slow to start with), you will help your children reduce their sugar intake and after a few days, you may even notice some positive changes in their behaviour such as improved concentration and mood.
Tip no. 1 – Home baking with less sugar
So you have decided to bake a lovely cake for your little one’s birthday. This is great because with home baking you can decide what goes into the recipe. With regards to sugar, most recipes are overly sweet. You can safely reduce the amount of sugar stated in the recipe by ¼ to a ½ without affecting the end result too much. And get the children involved! If they take part in the baking, they will want to eat it!
Tip no. 2 – Add fruit and veggies to your cakes
Who doesn’t like a tasty carrot cake? Well, if you do, you will enjoy cake alternatives such as beetroot brownies and double chocolate courgette muffins. Although they sound a bit strange at first, they are actually delicious. Feel free to experiment with these less sugar, high nutrition alternatives. They are so easy to make and will satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth.
Beetroot brownies: www.savoirfayre.co.uk/buckwheat_beetroot_brownies/
Chocolate muffins: www.halfbakedharvest.com/double-chocolate-coconut-oil-zucchini-muffins-with-caramelized-buckwheat/
Tip no. 3 – Water down those sugary drinks
Around 30% of the sugar in kids' diets comes from sugary drinks, such as fizzy drinks, squashes, energy drinks and fruit juice. Aim for no more than 1 sugary drink a day. Less is even better. Add water to fruit juices and be creative with flavoured water. Try adding fresh fruit to a jug a water and store in the fridge. It is fun, colourful and really tasty. Get the children to choose the fruit to go in the jug and they will be proud to share their drink with the family at dinner time.
Tip no. 4 – healthy swaps in the kitchen cupboard
Do you keep a supply of biscuits in the kitchen cupboard? Habits are hard to break so go slow. Start introducing days with nutrient-rich alternatives like whole grain crackers with hummus ( why not try this courgette dip recipe) or guacamole, fresh fruit slices with almond butter, homemade popcorn or a handful of mixed nuts. At the weekend, why not bake nutty cookies with less sugar.
Courgette dip recipe: www.savoirfayre.co.uk/courgette-hummus/
Nutty Cookies: iquitsugar.com/recipe/nut-banana-cookies/
Tip no.5 – Be in charge when it comes to sugar
When it comes to yogurts or breakfast cereals for your children, go for unsweetened options and add a sweetener yourself if needed. Fresh fruit or a small amount honey taste delicious in Greek yogurts or in porridge. You can also try cinnamon or even a touch of maple syrup.
Enjoy this journey to sugar freedom. Amazing things happen when you start eating less sugar. If you need a little hand in the kitchen, I offer cooking workshops delivered in the comfort of your own kitchen. For more information about family nutrition coaching visit www.savoirfayre.co.uk