The average American child eats about twice as much sugar as recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), amounting to about 50 pounds of sugar annually. That’s 60 grams a day of processed sugar, and it doesn’t include naturally occurring sugars in fruit, juice, or milk.
That makes the candy free-for-all called Halloween a target for curbing your child’s candy cravings. It won’t stop the appeal of costumes and door-to-door visits, but reducing your child’s taste for sweet things is a long-term win for overall health.
Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon MD supports your efforts to reduce your child’s sugar intake. To help you achieve your goal, we’ve prepared six tips to help you reduce the appeal of sugar on your child’s palette.
Processed sugar: Know your enemy
Sugars are a natural part of life. They’re the fuel your body most often turns to when powering cells in the form of blood glucose. Any food ingredient ending in “ose” — like glucose, fructose, or sucrose — is a sugar. It’s one way that chemistry identifies sugars.
When your child eats sweet fruits, they’re consuming unrefined sugars, meaning that their bodies must work to convert the complex sugars in the fruit into a form that’s used by the body. This is a good thing. The metabolic process and the presence of fiber in the fruit reduce the harmful impacts of these sugars on the body.
Refined sugars, like those found in your pantry and in highly processed foods and candy, absorb without much effort from your body, heading straight to the bloodstream, boosting blood sugar levels, a risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. Refined sugars are the enemy, and reducing candy intake reduces the refined sugar load.
6 tips to curb your child’s candy cravings this Halloween
Reducing sugar cravings might depend on your family’s lifestyle. Existing habits can be tricky to break. Consider these strategies and use those that you think have the best chance for success.
Reduce refined sugars in your home
Out of sight, out of mind. Children tend to eagerly beg for those attractive foods they see. If you keep less candy and refined sugar products at home, there’s less temptation.
Provide sweet alternatives
This tip follows naturally. As your child learns to choose sweet fruits over candy (because that’s what they see), over time a natural tendency to select fruit develops.
Provide savory alternatives
If your child likes to nosh on carrots, celery, bell peppers, or other vegetables, keeping these accessible directs their palettes away from overly sweet foods. The carbohydrates in vegetables convert to sugars through the digestive process.
Beware of hidden sugar bombs
Fruit juices sometimes give the impression of being a healthy choice, but removed from the fiber available in a piece of fruit, there’s nothing to slow the absorption of sugar in your child’s body. Encourage drinking water.
Present an example
Kids learn by watching their parents. Adopt the same strategies for yourself that you’d like your children to follow.
Ease the transition
Banishing candy or refined sugar suddenly may cause cravings that are stronger than ever. Ease your child away from refined sugars while introducing healthier activities.
You’ll need a plan and persistence, but you can break the sugar cycle. It might not reduce the size of the Halloween candy haul, but it could slow its consumption, leading to sweet tooth moderation.
At Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon, MD, we always have your child’s overall wellness in mind. Call or click to book an appointment, whenever we can help.