Easy ways to caution your child's sugar intake - Funmbi Oo - Nutrition, Diet, Health Care, Weight Loss and more

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You could explain again and again how eating too much sugar can lead to health problems like obesity, tooth decay and lately, childhood diabetes, but that doesn’t mean children will fully understand why snacking on sweet treats can be a problem. 

At this point, some mothers have realized that you can't force some meals down a child's throat without them wanting their own choices especially when they are at an age where they develop a sense of individuality and certain adversions to some foods. 

A new campaign from Public Health England is urging parents to limit snacks for children to two a day, and 100 calories a piece. The aim is to reduce kids’ sugar consumption as children eat an average 10kg of sugar every year, with about half of this coming from sugary drinks and snacks.

This is definitely an important initiative, but any parent will tell you that getting little ones to swap candy bars for carrot is no easy task. This is another major reason why most parents would choose sweet, junk food over a healthy alternative because healthy food come with the stress of preparing it. Parents would rather just let the child have his or her way than having to contend with the resulting tantrums. 

Although, encouraging children to eat healthy snacks isn’t as easy as A B C, that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible feat. Here are some tips on how to make it less of a labour:

Eat healthy as a family

Children learn from what they see adults doing, so it is important that parents also make healthy choices. So, if you haven't started eating healthy, then for the sake of your young ones, the time is now.

Apply the same rules to everyone in the family, and the children won’t be the only ones learning a valuable lesson. Research shows that children who participate in frequent family meals are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables, and they have more healthy eating habits overall that can continue in adult life,hence preventing the trends of obesity and other diseases. 

Be creative

You’ve heard of Mothers grumbling about how their kids don’t eat enough vegetables and instead pick all the greens out of their plate. You can avoid this problem later by taking the right step now to introduce your baby to a wide range of foods! 

Variety goes a long way to achieve this. There are only so much fruits and vegetables that anyone can eat before it gets boring, so you will need to get a bit creative with the snacks on offer. You do not have to go over the top with Instagram-worthy creations either.

Instead of just having single snacks to hand, get a couple of alternatives ready. 
Seeing how most children love cartoons, bright colours and interesting textures will do the trick, as well as pairing already well-liked flavours with new tastes. The idea is to give them the autonomy to choose and to positively influence their choices. 

Introduce full meals 

While snacks are easier to target through public health campaigns, remember that reducing sugar consumption should be done holistically. If half of childrens’ total sugar consumption comes from sugary items and snacks then it is obvious that meals account for the other half or even far less. Start thinking about introducing wholesome meals into their diets. Make sure they also have some amount of fruits daily by choping/slicing them into bite sizes, infusing them in their foods or making juices from the fruits.

Avoid sugary drinks

Parents hear over and over that even seemingly "healthy" drinks, as identified on their labels, can often hide numerous teaspoons of sugar in them. While fizzy drinks are generally regarded as the most unhealthy options, store-bought fruit juices and smoothies aren’t as healthy as they seem either.  Replace these fruit juices with homemade juices or beverages. Also, make smoothies with fruits or veggies and yogurt.

Flavoured water and soda can also contain sugar so that leaves plain water as the best option for children to drink. Encourage drinking of water by having some yourself. Though many kids will say they don’t like the taste, adding a squeeze of lemon or orange, or infusing a large jug with mint and strawberries will help change their minds.

Don’t forbid but do control

As research has repeatedly shown, forbidding foods makes them even more attractive for children. In fact, the power of forbidden foods is so strong, it has even been suggested that it works on healthy foods, such as fruits. 

The occasional biscuit or chocolate bar will not jeopardise a child’s eating health habits, so long as it is just one or two every once in a while. As a rule of thumb, try not to keep sugary snacks in the home, avoid offering them if the kids don’t ask for them, and limit the quantity offered if they do. Keep in mind that the 100 calorie recommendation is a rough guide to help parents quantify sugar. Nuts, for example, are a healthy snack choice but a portion size is often more than 100 calories.

Preferably, place a bowl of sliced cucumbers, carrots and other colourful fruits on the dinning area on a weekend when everyone is at home. Also, explain to them why it is important to have these healthy foods, as teaching them about their own health will work better in the long run than just saying no without explanation. 

Kicking the sugar habit may be tricky to begin with, but following these simple advice, as a parent or an expectant parent, will help make food a positive experience for you and your little ones. Please share your experiences and the dos and don'ts in feeding your little ones as well as your expectations in the comments below as this could be inspiring for other parents as well. Thanks! 

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