Healthy sugar habits? It sounds a bit like an oxymoron! But hear me out…
Sugar is everywhere! Our kids are exposed to it on a daily basis and trying to keep sugar out of our kids’ lives is a near-impossible task. And do we even want to do that?
Our family is careful about sugar intake, but we don’t completely ban it from our diets.
Teaching kids healthy sugar habits helps them make smarter decisions later in their lives, or when you’re not around.
I’ve actually witnessed both of my daughters enjoy a sweet treat and stop eating when they were satisfied — even if there was still part of the dessert left on their plate!
5 Ways we teach healthy sugar habits
We regard sugar as a “treat”
We don’t have dessert after every meal. Since “something sweet” is not automatically expected, there is no whining, fussing, or begging. When we do have dessert, it is savored and appreciated for the special treat that it is!
Desserts are saved for special occasions: birthdays, holidays, or any event we want to make that much more memorable.
We don’t villainize sugar
Labeling certain foods as “bad” can create unhealthy views towards food and eating in general. Items that are “off-limits” are more appealing and kids often to try to sneak them at first opportunity.
We instead emphasize filling up on the foods that provide the most nutritional value: lean proteins, veggies, fruits, and whole grains. We explain what these nutritious foods do for our bodies (provide energy, build muscles, etc.) and why we need to make sure to eat those foods first.
Related reading: 4 Common Nutritional Deficiencies in Children & How to Spot Them
If you teach kids about moderation and allow them to practice the concept, they’ll be more likely to notice when they feel satisfied. Because desserts are not “against the rules,” my girls don’t try to cram themselves full of sweets the first chance they get.
We eat reasonable portions
Have you noticed that the “king size” candy bars we grew up with are now the norm? The portion sizes for many desserts and foods in general have increased dramatically over the years!
We look for individually-packaged desserts that are realistically portioned. If desserts are large (like they often are in restaurants), we split them among the whole family. Serving homemade desserts on small plates (they’re called dessert plates for a reason) gives the impression of a generous serving, while keeping amounts modest.
We don’t eat sugar after dinner
A few months ago, we figured out that eating sugar late in the day made it difficult for our toddler to sleep through the night. So we simply made it a family policy to eat dessert (when we do) no later than about 2pm. Everyone sleeps better now!
We allow ourselves the occasional “just because” treat
Life isn’t always easy-peasy, and there is something about a sweet treat that brings a smile to almost anyone’s face. So go ahead and treat yourself or someone else to a sweet pick-me-up! If you’re eating healthy most of the time, it’s ok to splurge once in a while…promise!
Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. I am not a medical professional — just a mom who is always looking for fun ways to keep our family healthy!