6 Ways to Reduce Sugar in Your Children’s Diet – Whole 30 Week 2

Whole 30 week two is in full force. To be honest, it’s been going REALLY well. I have had a pretty regular hankering for chocolate and cheese (not together, that would be weird), but overall it’s been fine. I think I finally am past the sugar detox stage and am feeling really good. I have much more energy than I did last week, and I’m so grateful that my runs have been much better.  I haven’t even missed ice cream that much. (I know; I was shocked too.)

I have found that settling into a routine and having parameters put into place, it really isn’t that hard to stick to Whole 30. It just becomes “what you do.”

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When we started this round, I had wanted to include the kids. We tried for a day, but we gave up, mostly because we can’t control what happens at school. I also was struggling with putting such strict rules on my kids. They can eat the cupcake a classmate brought for a birthday treat. We have, however, tried to reduce their sugar as much as possible. I think we’re all aware that sugar isn’t a healthy option, as yummy as it may be.

Some of the things we’ve done to reduce the amount of sugar for our kids is really simple, like no treats after supper. I told my boys from the beginning that we were going to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and not as many treats and goodies for a while. They understand and don’t whine too much. And we haven’t eliminated treats for them completely, but now, instead of a cookie or two Hersey Kisses after supper, they get a chocolate chip or two.

Reducing the amount of sugar in our kids’ diet isn’t easy, especially since all the foods they love seem to contain so much! But with kids I think it’s easier to slowly transition instead of cutting them off cold turkey.

It’s not without some major struggles. Baby Girl has about 5 things she will actually eat on a regular basis. Turns out it’s hard to try and reason with a 21-month-old as to why she should eat her green beans. Huh.

One of the best ways to reduce that sugar in a child’s diet is to limit the amount of processed food he or she consumes, but I have a few other suggestions that I’d like to share.

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Here are some of the ways we’ve reduced our children’s sugar consumption:

Choose a better breakfast.

I don’t want to ruin your day, but a breakfast of artificially colored and flavored mini inner tubes is not the best way to start it. Especially for your kids. Not only is it severely lacking in real nutrition, but it’s full of sugar which is going to spike their blood sugar, overload their liver,  cause their body to produce insulin, and then leave them hungry within about a half an hour. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes my kids still eat cereal. Sometimes I get a hankering for cereal. Cereal is not the devil. But if you’re trying to reduce your kids’ sugar consumption, replacing their daily bowl of cereal will really help. Some of our favorite breakfasts are:

  1. Eggs –  a personal favorite of mine. So stinking nutritious, and keeps bellies full!
  2. Waffles – whether homemade or a decent mix (I use Kodiak cakes power protein mix), I make a giant batch and then flash freeze them for the week. Very helpful. And instead of topping with (ahem- FAKE-ahem) syrup, try peanut or almond butter.
  3. Oatmeal – make it from scratch and add peanut butter, or a little REAL maple syrup.
  4. Pancakes –  No, not the Bisquick mix. That’s basically sugar! I have a great recipe for Paleo Almond Pancakes, and my kids love them!
  5. Homemade Granola – check out my recipe for Grain-free Granola!


Have fruit for a morning snack.

Whether at home or at school, fruit is a great snack option, and I love it in the morning. Now, before you harp on me that fruit IS sugar, allow me to explain.

Yes, fruit does contain the sugar fructose; that’s what makes it sweet. The sugar is naturally occurring and is mitigated by the fiber that fruit contains. An apple contains about 4 grams of fiber, and children need about 11-13 grams of fiber a day. Not bad for a humble apple. And if you really want to balance any spike in blood sugar, pair it with a fat or protein. (Apple and peanut or almond butter is  classic and delicious combo.)

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Try to keep it to fresh fruit. Processed fruits like dried cranberries or applesauce are nowhere near as delicious or nutritious as their fresh counterparts.

Pack leftovers for lunches.

This is a hard battle for us. My oldest loves peanut butter and jelly for lunch. And while I try to reduce the sugar and refined carbohydrate load (whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, organic fruit spread), it still contains quite a bit of sugar for a daily lunch.

In truth, I’m trying to make this a gradual shift. I like to cook up things he likes the night before for supper, and then ask like it’s his choice. He usually wants the yummy sweet potatoes or leftover chicken.

Some of the winners have been:

  1. Roasted chicken legs
  2. Apple and Chicken sausage
  3. Meatballs
  4. Chicken strips

Most lunches will also contain a fruit (apples, strawberries…) a veg (broccoli, carrots, peppers, cucumbers… ) and roasted sweet potatoes. I do pack a little ketchup along with. Not ideal, but I guess you gotta pick and choose your battles.

Drink water.

Sorry, but you knew this was coming. There has been so much science promoting drinking water and how we shouldn’t be drinking soda and juice and all that, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.

So I guess, you get to make up your mind about this, but if reducing sugar in your child’s diet is something you want to do, that means encouraging everyone, not just the kids, to drink water instead of all the other options. (And please stop drinking chocolate milk. I know it’s yummy, but no one needs that sugar.)

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Maybe start slowly. Gradually water-down juice, or slowly limit the amount of sugary drinks your child consumes if they really have a problem drinking water.

Keep Larabars on hand. (Or make your own.)

Adults seem to always need quick snacks on the go, but kids need them too! How many times do we sprint out the door running errands, or dropping kids off at a sporting practice, or meetings, or whatever! Having some kid-friendly snacks on hand for times like this is a life savior. That way, when your in the grocery store and your toddler is on the verge of a hangry meltdown, you don’t grab the nearest Snickers bar to shove in their mouth to keep them quiet.

I have a super quick and easy recipe for homemade Larabars, and they’ve been kid- tested and approved. Just be mindful that if your kids have any nut allergies, you may have to adjust the recipe, or find alternative snacks.


Find the Balance

I truly believe that everyone can benefit from less sugar in his or her diet, including kids. But at the end of the day, kids need to be kids. Part of teaching our kids healthy habits is to allow  moments of relaxing around food. Kids should still have treats. There are lots of options for healthy treats, but there’s nothing wrong with a cupcake for a friend’s birthday, or a Candy Cane at Christmas.

We can’t completely eliminate sugar from our kids’ diet. And if I tried, it may backfire on me. I believe that children can be taught what is healthy and how to make better decisions. That also means that they are allowed to make poor food choices sometimes and deal with the consequences that come. The last thing I want to do to my kids is instill some kind of paranoid, or unhealthy idea of food, which will do nothing but lead to problems in the future.

More is caught than taught, and I think the biggest thing you can do for your kids is to model healthy eating habits and behaviors, while encouraging them in their healthy eating habits.

How do you include healthy habits with your kids? What’s you biggest struggle when it comes to teaching you children how to eat healthy foods?

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Related Posts:

Grain-Free Granola
Banana Muffins
5 Ways to Raise Active Kids
10 Ways to Raise Healthy Eaters


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