Looking for how to reduce sugar in your child’s diet, but you get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?
Here’s 3 super Easy tips to reduce your child’s sugar intake, from a mom of 4!
When my oldest daughter Emma began kindergarten, I started looking for easy breakfast ideas to help her get ready for her day quickly.
Months later, we found ourselves in a rut of Pop-tarts and Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast every day. I knew she was eating too much sugar, but I didn’t really know what to do about it. I needed a game plan.
So, I made some simple house rules which have benefited our family tremendously.
The key to success is teaching nutrition and setting some boundaries! Here’s 3 easy ways to reduce your child’s sugar intake.
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1) Introduce Nutrition Labels to Reduce Sugar in Diet
The first thing I did was explain to my daughter about healthy and unhealthy choices. I introduced her to the idea of reading nutrition labels.
At age 6, she was familiar with simple words and numbers, so I taught her to look for the word “Sugars” and then we compared how much sugar was in each of the cereals in our cabinet.
She was really quite excited about it and really interested to learn.
Talk about What Happens when you Eat Too Much Sugar
I explained that when she eats too much sugar, it’s not good for her body and doesn’t give her the energy she needs.
I also explained how when we eat too many foods that aren’t good for us, our body stores it up as fat. We read The Berenstain Bears & Too Much Junk Food by Stan & Jan Berenstain, which is a great book for teaching children about what junk food is and how it affects our body.
As Emma gets older, I will talk to her about how the American Academy of Pediatrics says that too much sugar can lead to abnormal cholesterol levels, obesity, and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
2) How to Reduce Sugar: Set Up House Rules
For our family, it was important to set up some house rules to reduce sugar in her diet. We decided that we would not completely get rid of her favorite sugary cereals but that we would cut back.
We decided that on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we would offer low sugar cereal options including Cheerios, Rice Krispies or Corn Chex which all had 4 grams or less of sugar per serving.
On Tuesday and Thursday, we would allow her favorite cereal Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
The weekends are “parent’s choice” which usually is a hot breakfast like bacon and eggs, breakfast tostadas, or omelets.
3) Portion Control at Snack Time
Snack time is the other time of the day that sugar can get away from our family. We put some rules in place about this as well.
I offer certain items each day for an after school snack. I limit the number of cookies, and when they are eating cookies, they have to have plain milk.
Sugary drinks are very limited in our household. We don’t typically buy store bought chocolate milk as it contains 26 grams of sugar in just one serving.
If your kids love chocolate milk, a much better option is adding a bit of chocolate syrup to plain milk.
Juice boxes have 17 grams of sugar per serving.
If I offer juice, it is usually once a week, and limited to one juice box.
When my kids have juice or chocolate milk, I serve it either alone or with another very low sugar item like popcorn.
What are the effects of Sugary Drinks?
The CDC warns that drinking sugary drinks on a regular basis can lead to diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, liver disease, and tooth decay.
I don’t really offer my kids soda during the week, but they are allowed to have it at parties and once a week when we eat out.
I often have to remind my kids that a snack is just a snack. Snack time is not meant to fill them up and I remind them that we will have supper later.
Sometimes, I tell them that after they finish what is in front of them “the kitchen’s closed.” In our house, that phrase means you’ve had enough, so no more food will be served at this time.
Teaching portion size and setting limits is important as our kids don’t know when to stop.
Sugary desserts and drinks leave us craving more. Recognizing appropriate portion sizes will help our children as they grow into adults.
And that’s it, some easy ways to reduce the sugar intake your kids!
A couple of things to remember: it’s your house, so it’s your rules. Do what works for your family. These “house rules” are meant to help my kids limit their sugar intake and live healthy lives.
I think the main thing is to start reading those nutrition labels and then find some house rules that work for your family.
Your kids will balk at first to the changes, but once you set your rules, stick to them.
If you give in to requests, they will push even more to find out where those boundaries are. So, for your sanity, make rules and stick to them!
I hope these ideas help you to reduce your child’s sugar intake! I’ve included a graphic of lower sugar snack options below.
I’m aware that 14 grams of sugar is still a lot of sugar, but it’s nice to know the snack options at the lower end of the spectrum.
Remember that parenting is never easy and kids do need boundaries. Good luck fellow parents!
For more info on this subject check out Simply Ameryn’s How to Sneak in Healthy Foods Unnoticed
Other articles you might enjoy:
How to Help Your Picky Eater
How to Reduce Screen Time
Dealing with Tantrums
Great tips. Our 2yr old has problems with sugar so we definitely try these. Thanks for sharing.
Absolutely! It’s unbelievable how many products have high sugar levels! Good luck! 🙂
When our son was diagnosed with ADHD, sugar was the 1st ingredient we had to address. High Fructose Corn Syrup is in everything, and if you’re not careful it can sneak its way into nearly everything kids like to eat. We introduced label reading and understanding to our 7 y/o as soon as he could read. We try to encourage him to make his own choices about his health and that has helped because he’s excited! Thanks for the other tips. We will try them!
It’s so true. It’s shocking what products have sugar in them. It’s awesome that your son is learning to independently make those healthy choices!
Good idea for kids to enjoy food
This is an informative post indeed. Let me share this post with a few parents
Thank you and feel free to share!
We have always tried to teach our kids how to read labels. Now they are 19 and even though they are not the best eaters, at least they are aware of what they are eating – even if we get some eye rolling. Lol
Exactly! At some point they will care and you’ve done your part to inform!
Great Tips! Your article is a must-read. Since I have cut my kid’s sugar intake, I haven’t just seen behavioral changes but their immune systems have been improved a lot. Fewer colds during the school year and better sleep too. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
That is fascinating! Thanks for sharing!
This is such a great post. I struggle to cut back on sugar for my son. He loves his chocolate milk, so going to try your tip with that.