I came across this article the other day and it was so good I wanted to share it straight as it is. I think it’s is a fantastic approach to lowering the amount of sugar your family eat.
It doesn’t matter at what age sugar first enters a child’s diet, the reaction is almost always the same: obsession. Many experts acknowledge sugar’s addictive properties. Once children have been introduced to it, it doesn’t seem like they want more just because it tastes good.
Our bodies crave sugar when our blood sugar levels are low or we have low serotonin, a brain chemical that seems to play a role in regulating mood. Sugar can trigger a burst of serotonin, but it doesn’t last, and soon after, we experience a crash that then prompts more sugar cravings.
Adding up to healthy eating
Your best bet to reducing the amount of sugar your children eat is to focus on adding nutritious foods, rather than on eliminating all sweets. The idea is that we don’t have to do it all perfectly. Think about upgrading what we eat, and crowding out the sugar. It’s easier to add stuff in, rather than get rid of stuff.
1. Eat a sugar-smart breakfast
Breakfast is your first chance to fill your children with nutritious, low-sugar foods that will sustain them longer and help curb sweet cravings. Look for foods that are pared down to their simplest forms: eggs, a sprouted-grain muffin and a fruit and yogurt smoothie with a little flax oil mixed in for steady energy and antioxidant nutrition.
Buy unsweetened foods, such as oatmeal, and add the sweetener yourself so you can control the amount. Go for wholesome, minimally processed options like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar. Better yet, add fruit, especially bananas, to round out the flavor. Use cold-pressed coconut oil in oatmeal and other hot cereals. Raw coconut oil is nature’s healthy saturated fat. It has a delicious tropical flavor and will metabolize more slowly than sugar.
2. Think beyond fruit juice
Fruit juice can be loaded with sugar calories (take a look at the nutrition panel). Serve your children naturally sweet tea, such as caffeine-free licorice and spice tea or tea mixed with cocoa added, rather than juice. If your children are used to soda pop, gradually substitute club soda mixed with a splash of juice, or use a natural powdered flavor mix to create a drink with a fraction of the sugar content in fruit juice. Again, you, rather than the product, control the amount of sugar.
3. Offer foods that are naturally sweet
Mashed pumpkin, sweet potatoes, bananas or dates add flavor to muffins and other baked treats, waffles, and pancakes. a peeled and frozen banana, dipped in dark chocolate, is lower in processed sugar than a chocolate bar or an ice cream bar, but it makes for just as satisfying a dessert.
Offer your own mix of dried fruits and nuts – no need to include chocolate chips in homemade trail mix. If you’re going with an energy bar, compare nutrition panels and choose the one with fewer grams of sugar. Have fun experimenting with whole-food alternatives to refined sugar, such as molasses, agave nectar, and brown rice malt or barley malt syrup.
As any parent knows, it’s unrealistic to completely control your children’s sugar intake. The trick is to adapt a healthy attitude about it. Learn to feed your children nutritious foods that fight off cravings, trade up your sugar source when possible, and when birthday cake and ice cream are served, remember that it’s OK to indulge in moderation.
By Jean Weiss. Original article