Our kids are bombarded with opportunities to enjoy sugar–birthday parties, holidays, carnivals, and the ice cream truck at the beach that nobody can pass up. Our kids are also constantly being told by the media that they have to try the latest and greatest sweet treats available. But it is our job as parents to make some tough decisions to protect and guide our children even if that means saying no to them when it comes to sugar.
We have been warned by doctors and health professionals for years that added sugar can lead to health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. We also now know that sugar can trigger anxiety. Similar to how caffeine affects our nervous system, sugar highs can contribute to symptoms that mimic a panic attack. Our kids can experience blurry vision, fatigue, difficulty thinking, and increased heart rate just from eating sugar. These symptoms can cause people who already suffer from anxiety to be even more worried and fearful, which in turn, worsens their symptoms.
How To Build A Sugar-Free Habit
Companies know that marketing to children will often result in moms and dads giving in at the supermarket. But buyer beware–some of those labels are misleading. You may see a “fat-free” label, but when you look at it closely you may notice that it is still packed with sugar. Also, plenty of items that you wouldn’t necessary expect to contain sugar actually do, such as yogurt, bread, crackers, salad dressing, and energy drinks.
It is up to you to make smart decisions before the sugar ends up in your children’s hands. Here are some tips to consider:
- Limit bringing sugary foods into the house altogether.
- Avoid keeping sugary snacks out around the house, such as in cookie jars, candy dishes, and gumball machines.
- Give clear guidance about sugar to those who care for your children when you are not around, such as babysitters, teachers, and grandparents.
- Limit the importance of food by not using treats to reward or punish your kids. (This includes during potty training!)
- Teach your kids about moderation, self-control, and pleasure when it comes to food.
- Involve your children at the supermarket by asking them to help pick out healthy options.
- Model good eating habits. Understand that a sugar-free lifestyle for the kids means a sugar-free lifestyle for the parents, too.
- Prepare in advance when you know sugar-intense holidays are coming up like Halloween and Valentine’s Day.
Get Creative With Sugar-Free Alternatives
The most important tip to remember is to not deprive your children of all types of treats during special occasions because that could cause tension and anger. Look for sugar-free alternatives they can enjoy while others are getting a sugar high. Try these creative ideas:
- Provide attractive healthy options so your kids don’t miss the sugary snacks, such as creative fruit and sugar-free dessert recipes. There are so many amazing ideas out there to use fruit to make almost anything you can imagine.
- Put together sugar-free candy buffets for birthdays, holidays, and other events.
- Instead of giving your kids candy for a special occasion, order or put together a delicious fruit bouquet.
- Put a sugar-free twist on traditions. For example, use sugar-free candy to make a gingerbread house. Your kids won’t even notice the difference.
- Instead of trick-or-treating or stuffing Valentine’s Day boxes with candy, host a party with sugar-free treats. Embrace the meaning of holidays and take the focus off the food. If you are in a situation where sugary treats are inevitable, allow only a small portion for yourself and your children.
Taking the leap from sugar to sugar-free may seem daunting at first, but there are so many resources and creative ideas out there to make your transition go smoothly. In fact, in many cases your children will probably not even realize the difference. By forming this important habit early in their lives, your children will benefit in the long run by living a healthy lifestyle.
What sugar-free tricks do you have?