Help! My Child is Addicted to Sugar

Help! My Child is Addicted to Sugar

By Me-Shell Mijangos 

If your sweet child is starting to act more like a sugar monster, you aren’t alone. Kids today are constantly bombarded with sugar, to the point that many of them are legitimately addicted. This is leading to a whole host of problems, including difficulty focusing in school and/or home, a childhood obesity epidemic, and an increased risk of developing serious diseases like heart disease or child onset diabetes. Now, that doesn’t sound sweet!

 

The big problem with sugar isn’t the fact that kids are exposed to it at special events. Having a piece of cake at a birthday party or an extra cookie (or five) at Grandma’s won’t automatically lead your child down the road to bad health. However, constantly ingesting sugar at every meal could.

How to Manage Your Child’s Sugar Intake

Like most kids, my son craves sugar and wants it constantly. And it’s no wonder! Sugar is everywhere, and not just the obvious places, like cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream. It’s also in some not-so-obvious places, like starches, bread, juice, and yogurt.   

This makes it really challenging to stick to the guidelines set by the American Heart Association, which states that children between the ages of 2 and 18 should have no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. It sounds like a lot, but if you tally up the amount of sugar your child has on an average day, you may be shocked to find out how easily it all adds up.

Trying to keep sugar completely out of your child’s diet feels like a next-to-impossible task. So, what’s a swell mom to do? I don’t believe we can deny children these treats. After all, adults love a good cupcake now and then too!

The answer to getting your child’s sugar addiction under control is to help your child understand the role that sugar plays in his or her overall health. Help your child get in touch with his or her body to understand the feeling of having too much sugar, and explain the impact that sugar has on our overall health in terms that he or she will understand. You don’t have to go into details about serious health risks at this age. It can be enough to talk about how sugar will directly impact your child’s life today, including moodiness, trouble focusing, feeling sluggish during soccer games, dental issues, and that awful feeling of a sugar crash. 

Practice Good Habits as a Family

Kids follow their parents as role models. In order to set your child up for success, then, you need to practice what you preach. Make quitting the sugar habit (or at the very least cutting down on your sugar intake) a family task rather than an individual task for your child to conquer alone. This will show your child that you’re all in this battle together.

There are a lot of simple ways you can take steps to monitor and control your sugar intake as a family, including:

 

  • Keeping sugary snacks out of the house
  • Only indulging in sweet treats for special events
  • Practicing mindful eating when eating a sweet treat instead of scarfing it down
  • Only drinking water at dinner (you can flavor it naturally by adding an orange or lemon)
  • Cooking meals together at home one extra time a week instead of going out for dinner

Cutting down on sugar doesn’t have to mean cutting down on delicious food. Try this low sugar version of a classic dessert, banana pudding, the next time your family’s craving a sweet treat!

Banana Pudding Cup

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 C milk or your favorite dairy-free substitute. My son loves Macadamia Milk.
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar (since bananas are already sweet, try just 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 T organic corn starch
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 large bananas (for slicing)

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, vanilla, and egg yolks.
  2. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently. Cook until the mixture is bubbly and starting to thicken (about 6-8 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer the pudding into a serving bowl or individual cups. Chill for at least two hours. Place sliced bananas on top and serve immediately.

Follow these tips to wean your family off sugar and help set your child up for a healthy life. It might take a little time to get used to, but soon, you and your family will be living healthier lives and relying a lot less on artificial sugars. Now, that’s pretty sweet!

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