Are you thinking about goals for the New Year?! Want to reduce your family’s sugar consumption in 2021?
Why is reducing your family’s sugar consumption so important? Here are a few of the effects excess sugar can have on our children’s bodies.
Excess sugar can:
• Disrupt normal growth of organs including heart, brain, liver, and gut.
• Cause hyperactivity, irritability, moodiness, and weight gain.
• impair focus, concentration, and memory.
• Decrease academic performance.
• Lower the immune system.
• Affect taste preference and appetite regulation.
Want to make some changes? Don’t know where to start?
- Look at how much sugar your family consumes in a typical day. Examine the labels and then figure out how many added grams of sugar your family is consuming. Be mindful of the serving size. Do you eat more or less than the serving? Then, adjust accordingly.
- Create a visual. Convert the grams of added sugar into teaspoons by dividing by 4. There are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. So, work together with your children to measure out the number of teaspoons of sugar your family consumed in one day. Then, put the amount of teaspoons of sugar in a clear plastic bag. This exercise creates a great visual and can be very eye opening for the whole family.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends zero grams of sugar from 0 to 2 years old. This number includes juice which can often be a culprit for toddler sugar consumption. The AHA recommends no more than 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar per day from ages 3 to 18 years old.
Here is an example of what a child may eat in a typical day.
Breakfast: Honey Nut Cheerios (12 g sugar) and orange juice (21 g sugar)
Snack: Kids cliff z bar (9 g sugar)
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (15 grams sugar)
Snack: Strawberry yogurt (13 g sugar)
Dinner: Spaghetti with marinara (5 g sugar) and a salad with dressing (3 grams sugar)
Dessert: Chocolate chip store bought cookie (14 g sugar)
The total amount of sugar consumed in one day is 92 grams of sugar or 23 teaspoons. This is almost four times the maximum amount of sugar recommended! It is amazing how quickly sugar consumptions adds up.
Here are 8 ways to reduce your family’s sugar consumption. Start small. Start slow.
- Swap your store-bought desserts for a low sugar homemade baked good.
- Read your labels. Pay close attention to the number of grams of added sugar. If you notice a food your family consumes on a daily basis is high in sugar, try to find an alternative, low sugar option.
- Ditch the juice or start diluting the juice with water.
- Cut high sugar foods like flavored yogurt with plain yogurt. Alternatively, buy plain yogurt and add a small amount of honey or maple syrup.
- Place the foods that are high in sugar in the back of the pantry so they are out of sight.
- Put the healthy foods in sight. Create a fruit bowl for your kitchen counter or chop veggies and keep them in a clear glass container, right at eye level in the fridge.
- Think of snacks as an opportunity to add nutrients into our family’s diet. Shift your mindset from convenience packaged foods to whole foods with fiber, healthy fats and protein. A few examples are fruits, veggies, nuts, nut butter, cheese, and hummus. Here are more healthy snack alternatives.
- Start your day with a nutrient dense, low or no sugar breakfast. If you start your day with sugary cereal, for example, blood sugar will spike, then it will quickly crash leaving you hungry and craving more sugar. Eggs or a piece of toast with nut butter and fruit is a good alternative. Here are a few other kid-friendly breakfast ideas.
Want some more guidance, accountability, inspiration, and support while reducing your family’s sugar consumption?
Consider joining my family nutrition program, “Raising Healthy Eaters” which starts Monday, January 4th 2021. It is geared towards helping children develop an appreciation for real food. Since we live in a fast food, highly processed world, raising healthy eaters is HARD! I will meet you where you are in your family’s health journey without judgment through weekly tutorials, a one-on-one pantry makeover, “Kids in the Kitchen” cooking classes (both via zoom), and daily food challenges. Additionally, you’ll get lots of family-friendly recipes and helpful handouts.
Be sure to email me at [email protected] for more details or to sign up for my course.
Cheers to 2021 and developing small simple changes in your family’s health that will make a big impact.