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  • Denise Scott

Easy Ways to Reduce Sugar in Your Child’s Diet

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

This article is a follow-up from last week, with many easy and practical tips for decreasing sugar intake and improving the nutrient density of your family's diet.

Last week I outlined why too much sugar is unhealthy and puts your child at risk for many diseases. Now I will outline how to decrease your sugar intake.

A ban sugar sign made out of sugar cubes.

First and foremost, to reiterate, decrease or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages. These account for almost half of the sugar consumption in this country.

Make simple swaps when shopping:

  • Swap white bread for whole wheat or whole grain.

  • Swap white rice for brown.

  • Swap regular pasta for whole wheat pasta or pasta made from vegetables.

  • Look for cereals with the fewest grams of added sugars (5 grams or fewer), or better yet, choose old-fashioned oatmeal or eggs to start the day (see post on The Problem with Breakfast, 12/7/22, ).

  • Try a variety of grains such as oats, quinoa, farro, buckwheat, and more.

  • When baking, choose flour made from whole wheat or whole grains such as almond or oat flour.

Simply switching from simple carbs to complex carbs significantly improves the nutrient density of your diet.

The above changes swap out simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates, which increases dietary fiber and maintains steady blood sugar levels.

Change your choices:

  • Choose to eat whole fruit for snacks and treats.

  • Find recipes that use vegetables to make desserts, such as avocados, sweet potatoes, and black beans. See post entitled "Sweet Tooth,"

  • Make your salad dressings with oil and vinegar, using citrus, mustard, and herbs to vary the taste. Many commercial ones have added sugar.

  • Instead of granola bars or candy, make your own trail mix or granola.

  • Choose plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself with berries.

  • Make your own smoothies at home with milk, yogurt, and fresh or frozen fruit.

  • Choose sliced fruit on sandwiches rather than jelly or jam.

  • Look for zero-added-sugar items for nut butter, marinades, ketchup, and pasta sauces.

  • Choose fresh or frozen items rather than canned items.

These choices decrease calories and increase nutrient density by increasing vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

Read labels:

  • Choose items that do not list sugars in the first 5 ingredients.

  • Look for those that have no or minimal added sugars.

Finally, change your habits:

  • Prepare meals at home as much as possible to know what is in your food.

  • Involve your children in cooking to teach them healthy choices and improve their chances of trying new things.

Ultimately, the goal is to preserve children's health by how we feed them now to prevent diseases later. It works!

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