Kids and Sugar



"It's almost impossible to keep your child away from sugar during the holidays (or any time, for that matter!).

"What’s a parent to do when there are sweet treats everywhere you go?  

Sure, we want our kids to be happy BUT we know eating sugar is bad for you and highly addictive.

Did you know that we’re actually programmed to crave high sugar and high fat foods?  

It’s part of our survival mechanism and is particularly strong in children and adolescents.

Check out Live Simply Natural for more about breaking your child's sugar addiction.

4 Quick Tips for taming the holiday sweets overload

1. Treat sweets neutrally. Try not to make them “good” or “bad” – instead, talk about the frequency that we eat sweets vs. other foods. During the holidays, though, if grandma wants to share cookies with the kids, be okay with that – it’s more about the relationship than the food right now.

2. To avoid the sugar meltdowns – make sure kids eat protein (meat, cheese, yogurt) and / or fiber (veggies, fruit, whole grains) along with the sugary treat.

3. No seconds on sweets. Ever. This is longer-term strategy to combat the sugar gremlins at your house.

4. Serve dessert with dinner. Yep. Put sweets and dinner at the same level. Kids will sometimes ‘hold out’ for dessert. When it’s a small portion served with the meal, they will get their sweet-fix but also be more likely to eat their dinner, too.

More advice from Maryann at Raise Healthy Eaters:

Serve dessert with dinner: “The most helpful advice I’ve found is often the hardest for families, and that is to serve a child-sized portion of dessert WITH the meal, but no seconds on dessert. ” says feeding expert Dr. Katja Rowell from Family Feeding Dynamics.  “It really does neutralize it, and also puts all the food on a level playing field.”

Rowell explains that kids are likely to eat dessert first for awhile but they eventually learn to enjoy and tune in to the entire meal without obsessing or fretting about what they have to eat, or how many bites will earn dessert.

“There is data to suggest that bribing kids with dessert makes them less likely to enjoy new foods, and that’s certainly what I’ve seen.”

One of our readers wrote in with her success with this strategy: “I have noticed that if I go ahead and add a small sweet to their dinner plates, both of my girls will eat a more balanced meal instead of ‘holding out’ for dessert,” says Ramona, a mom of two young girls.

And don't forget: 

Plenty of exercise and outdoor time helps, too! (yes, even in the rain!)


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