The recommended daily allowance for added sugar is nine teaspoons for men, six teaspoons for women, and three teaspoons for children. However, the average American consumes a whopping 17 teaspoons of added sugar every single day. As most people are aware, too much added sugar in your diet can lead to all sorts of health issues, such as obesity (and its subsequent effects), type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It’s important not to confuse naturally occurring sugars - those found in fruits, for example - with added sugar. Naturally occurring sugars are an integral part of a balanced diet, and shouldn’t be cut out. It’s items like soda, cakes, and the majority of processed foods, which are the real concern, and over-consumption needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, so here are some great tips for cutting out sugar from your family’s diet.
1. Don’t Rush
The reason sugar is so hard to quit is that it’s one of several substances that activates the brain’s reward system, which, when activated, leads to intense feelings of joy that can result in addiction and cravings. It’s no surprise then that cutting sugar from you and your family’s diet is no easy task- especially your children. Kids have been known to be so severely affected by their dependence on sugar that when it’s taken from them, they’ll have a meltdown lasting hours. So it’s not recommended to remove anything and everything containing added sugar from the house overnight. Instead, start slowly. Gradually introducing whole foods to replace processed options is an excellent place to start, as well as substituting shop-bought candy for homemade, healthier choices. Although challenging at first, you’ll soon become used to this new way of life, and your family - and their bodies — will be all the happier for it.
2. Don’t Blame The Sweet Stuff
It’s entirely feasible to reduce your family’s overall intake of sugar without pitching it as the new enemy. Like anything, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying sugar in moderation. As soon as you start vilifying sugar, you risk creating an unhealthy attitude towards diet and a tenuous relationship with food, which can have serious implications. So rather than banishing sugar altogether, just begin partnering it with healthy alternatives. If your child enjoys fruit juice, pour half the usual amount, and dilute the rest with water. Believe me; it will still be sweet enough! Perhaps they enjoy highly sugary cereal for breakfast? Mix it with a more nutritious option. Another trick is to buy foods as plain as possible - greek yogurt, for instance - then adding the sweet hit yourself, such as honey or mixed berries.
3. Remove The Sweet Treat
As parents, we’ve all been there. Convincing your little one to do what you want is a whole lot easier when you promise them their favorite treat in return. The reward system is a typical parenting hack, but it can soon become unhealthy when everything has to result in a sugar hit. Instead of the promise of an ice lolly or a chocolate biscuit, consider making fun activities such as rock climbing or ice skating the reward for good behavior.
4. Share The Benefits
Something your entire family will notice from the reduction of sugar in their diet is a significant improvement in their physical and mental wellbeing. Increased energy levels, weight loss, reduced inflammation, enhanced mental clarity, focus, and overall mood are all scientifically-proven benefits of cutting out sugar. So be sure to share your new-found wellness, and celebrate the fact that your family’s diet is now in a much better place.