Reducing Sugar in Your Littles Life
So, I am going to chat about that subject that becomes a little controversial with our littles, and at times can leave us feeling guilty as parents. Know what topic I am talking about? If you thought sugar you would be right.
Gosh Mama, how do we fight the influences from holidays, schools, play dates, and even a tantrum throwing toddler before we just give in and let them have the candy? At the time I am writing this our daughter is close to turning one years old and the topic of her birthday cake has come up, or at what age I am going to allow her to “have sugar”?
When did choosing a time to introduce sugar like it is a food group to our littles become a thing? Listen, I know they are going to get introduced to it and it’s not horrible for them to have it at a special time where treats are involved. But, when did sugar intake become a normal thing for our littles on a daily basis? If we, as adults consumed the amount of sugar our littles do, in some cases daily, we would physically feel horrible. It is no wonder diabetes and childhood obesity are on the rise, rapidly I may add. Sugar is also a significant contributor to poor gut health, especially at a time of year where our littles immunity is a concern, and a time of year where sugar intake is higher, it is no wonder sickness is highest. Our gut health contributes to around 80% of our immunity, babes included.
We can’t always control the outside influences on them, and trying to do so will make you go crazy. Instead though, we can control the amount of influence we have at home on their daily nutrition. As I have posted before, so many of our kids “food items” marketed to them contain added sugars. Beginning to make some healthier swaps (below) at home is where we can make a significant change on their daily intake and control the controllable to support their gut health, immunity, and long term health. If your littles are just being introduced to foods, remember, they don’t know what “sweet” tastes like. What may not taste good to you may taste great to them!
Cut the fruit juice. I know, just hear me out. This is going to be one of the biggest challenges but is one of the biggest contributors. Did you know a serving of their juice is 8 oz.? Have you measured out 8oz. before? Most littles are taking in significantly more than that. To give you an idea, 8oz. of juice can come in at a whopping 30g. of sugar, pretty much taking away their entire days worth of added sugar recommendations. Also, juice does not contain the nutrients that the actual source of fruit does. The truth is, fruit juice is almost the equivalent of drinking pop on a sugar scale. Yes, even homemade juice. Try slowly watering down their juice to start until you gradually shift to water or milk.
Swap the snacks: If it isn’t available to them, they won’t be able to consume it. A meltdown may occur, but having communication with your babes on why we are making these swaps for them is crucial. Kids need to know WHY. They will get on board, I promise! When it comes to packaged items I generally recommend no more than 5-6g of added sugars. You are going to become a label reader here, because you need to check where the sugars are coming from… is it real fruit and not fruit juice? How many items end with “ose” in the ingredient list? If you didn’t know, items ending with “ose” are another term for sugar…ex. glucose, fructose. Try making your own baked goods and swap applesauce for the sweetener, or Simple Mills brand is a quick and easy way to give your kiddos some tasty treats without the added junk.
Use fruit as a buffer. As you make these swaps, try offering a fruit and keep some cut up on hand for your littles. This can be a great buffer as we try to decrease the added sugars that will also offer a good nutrient dense punch we can feel good about!
Remember, we can control what happens at home. What they are influenced by daily is ultimately going to be the biggest difference maker and offers the most consistency. As you try swapping the sugar options, don’t fret it if your littles are offered candy elsewhere. We are teaching them it is okay to indulge every now and then, but that our consistent nutrition should be what offers a healthy benefit for our body, NOT that there are “good foods” and “bad foods”.
You got this, Mama.