Lots of us have a sweet tooth. Whether it’s a biscuit with a brew, always having a dessert, or even just adding a couple of spoons of sugar to your coffee. Sometimes it’s easy to spot sugar, we can find it in a lot of foods while we go around the supermarket. You can read more about this; surprising places you’ll find sugar.
It can be particularly tricky if you’ve got children. Did you know that half of the sugar that children eat comes from snacks and sugary drinks?
Even if you’re aware of the kinds of products they should have in moderation, it can be difficult to think of alternatives. Especially if your children are picky eaters. We’ve spoken to our expert team and put together a guide of sugary options to watch out for and ideas for how you can replace them.
Let’s start at the beginning of the day, with breakfast. Lots of children’s cereals are very high in sugar. You can use the traffic light system to spot which ones to avoid. Red is high, amber is medium, and green is low. The best cereal options to go for are porridge or wheat biscuits, they’re also high in fibre.
You can make these cereals more exciting for your children by adding a handful of fresh fruit. They can pick the toppings they like. A handful of fruit adds more flavour and counts towards their five a day.
Snack Swap Ideas
Now let’s look at snacks. Sugary snacks such as cakes, biscuits and chocolate are easy to overconsume, especially when children are in the habit of eating these. You can use the NHS Sugar Calculator to check how much sugar is in your children’s favourite foods.
Instead of these high-sugar selections, you can make healthy snacks with your kids. It’s a fun activity to do together and they’re more likely to eat it if they’ve made it themselves. Here are some snack ideas to get you started:
– Plain yoghurt with whole fruit
– Rice cakes or oatcakes with cheese
– Apple and peanut butter
– Vegetable sticks and hummus
Sugar in Drinks
We often forget about the sugar in drinks, so it is easy for our sugar intake to add up throughout the day. To give you some insight, here are how many teaspoons of sugars are in some popular drinks*:
– 200ml bottle of Yop has 5.5 teaspoons of sugar
– 500ml bottle of Ribena has 5 teaspoons of sugar
– 500ml bottle of Lucozade Sport has 4.5 teaspoons of sugar
– A 330ml can of Coke has over 8 teaspoons of sugar
*Correct as of March 2019
See if you can help your child to reduce the number of times they have these drinks throughout the week.
The best drink for your child is water. It’s healthy, free, and will keep them hydrated. If your child finds water too plain and doesn’t want to drink it, there are lots of different things you can try to encourage them to drink:
– If your child drinks a lot of squash, start diluting it more and more with water.
– Ice cubes can make water more fun. Freeze little bits of fruit and juice, your child can watch it melt as they drink.
– Show them how much water they drink a day. You could make it a family challenge to see who can drink the right amount of water.
– They could have their own special water bottle to drink from.
The NHS Sugar Fact Sheet has some fantastic tips on how you and your family can reduce your sugars. Their smart shopping tips include:
– Checking food labels – as we explained with breakfast cereals, use the traffic light system. Focus on greens and ambers, try to avoid reds.
– Bigger is not better – you may be getting a bargain on some products, but you’re just buying more sugar. Try to focus on sugar-free options.
– Leave it on the shelf – simple but effective. If you don’t have sugary snacks and drinks in the house, no one can eat or drink them.
You don’t have to change everything all at once. You can take small steps to lower your child’s sugar intake. For instance, you could start by making one change in your weekly food shop by choosing a different snack. Then the next week, you could try a different change. After four weeks, that will be four swaps your child has made, which is a huge improvement. There’s no rush with healthy habits, they can take a while to build. Small changes over time can make a big difference.
At MoreLife, we’re proud to help people of all ages live a healthy lifestyle. If you want to find out more about how we can help you and your family, check out our children, teen and family programmes.