6 ways to raise sugar-free kids
Yes, you can raise sugar-free kids without them hating you. Here are 6 tips that can help you do it strategically.
My mummy friends are polarised when it comes to sugar in their children’s diet.
One group of mummies are liberal – indulging their children in sugar freely. They are often seen feeding their children ice-cream, artificially-flavoured lollipops and sweets.
The other group of mummies champion eating clean and wholesome real foods. They are uptight and hyper-vigilant when it comes to sugar. They are the ones who throw away the sugar-loaded treats in birthday goodie bags brought back from school.
I pledge my allegiance to the latter group.
It has been well-documented that processed sugar is evil. Sugar is the culprit behind tooth decay, obesity, behavioural problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Type II Diabetes.
According to Sarah Wilson, Author of “I Quit Sugar Kids Cookbook”, children are little growing human beings who have a bucket load of nutritional requirements. In order to accommodate all these nutrients, there are fewer calories available for sugar allowance.
If there is an area where you should exercise parental resolve, let it be freedom from sugar!
6 tips to help your kids become sugar-free
#1 Recognise the pitfalls
Do you use sugar to compensate your children when you are unable to spend time with them? Do you get a box of Tim Tams or donuts on your way back from work just to “brighten up” your kid’s day? Do you use snacks or goodies to bribe them into cooperation? Catch yourself when you do this and… STOP!
You can cheer kids up with a cuddle or a story. You can coax them into cooperation using a calmer tone of voice.
#2 Get comfortable with saying “No” to your kids
Dr Kevin Leman reminds parents never to forget about saying “No” to their children. When I reject my pre-schoolers’ requests for sugary treats, they often whine, “Why?” My reply would be, “If it is good for you, I will give you plenty of it.” Somehow, they understand my words and my heart. They do not push it.
#3 Caught not taught
Lead by example.
Values are caught, not taught. Your actions speak louder than words, so watch your habits too. Eliminate sugar from your own diet. If they see, through you, that a sugar-free experience is enjoyable, they would want to jump on the bandwagon too! Normalise the sugar-free lifestyle and they will internalise it, choosing healthier food options even on their own.
#4 Flee from temptation
When you go to the grocery store with the kids, try skipping the snacks/chocolates/sweets aisle completely. Instead, involve them in choosing sugar-free options like cereals or yogurt.
For parties, social gatherings and festivities such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya, we understand it will be difficult to stay off the sweets Wilson suggests letting our hair down on such occasions.
At these events, you can help children focus on the party games or activities instead of letting them stuff their faces with cakes and pastries. You can offer them “sky juice” in place of carbonated drinks. You can also further cushion the damage by encouraging kids to exercise self-control and not overeat, as that may result in them falling sick. Educating them with a simple message would be far more beneficial than telling them to abstain from an abstract concept like sugar, something they may not understand yet.
#5 Get connected
There’s plenty of camaraderie you can find out there to live a sugar-free life. Get connected with like-minded groups on social media for inspiration on recipes and lifestyle habits to make this lifelong resolution sustainable!
#6 Just do it!
Today is the best day to start. Do not procrastinate. Clear all the sugar in the home, and don’t look back.
Remember, trying to raise sugar-free kids does not mean that you can never let them enjoy a slice of birthday cake or relish an ice-cream cone on a scorching day. By returning to more reasonable eating habits that include saving sugary foods for special occasions, we can aim to provide our children with the healthy future we want for them.