Most kids won’t ever turn down a sweet treat, but candy and sugary goodies are not good for them. Over-consumption of white sugars can not only lead to tooth decay needing dental restoration, but can lead to bad eating habits that can result in childhood (or adult) obesity and a life full of health problems. And the older your kids get, the less chance you’ll have to influence their habits, so now is the time to get them out of the habit of eating sweets.
Soda is one of the worst sugars to allow your child to indulge in and lays the groundwork for lifelong bad choices in beverages. Instead, encourage consumption of water, milk and juice (although juice intake should not be excessive and never before bed). At restaurants, unsweetened tea with raw sugar or honey to sweeten it can be a nice indulgence now and then. Or try seltzer water for a fizzy, low-sugar treat. Kids that don’t grow up drinking soda are less likely to guzzle it down as adults.
#2 Don’t use sugary treats as rewards
It can be tempting to offer candy or snacks as rewards or bribes to complete homework, sit quiet or accomplish other tasks. This can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Instead, reward your child with your time, affection and attention (or some shiny stickers). This will make them happier and healthier in the long run and will keep you from having to deal with the consequences of having sugared up kids running amok around your house.
#3 Offer healthy sugars
Teach your kids that they can enjoy a sweet treat without resorting to refined sugars and corn syrup soaked products. Fruit smoothies and frozen fruit popsicles are nice healthy treats for hot weather. And, year round, seasonal fruits are a great way to introduce fiber and healthy sugars into your child’s diet. Developing a yen for fruits can keep your kids healthy for years to come and teach them to appreciate natural foods rather than processed junk.
#4 Limit portion size of sweets
Moderation is the key with sweets. If you cut your kids off completely, they may sneak candy or go crazy and over-indulge when they can get their hands on sugar. Instead, coach them to appreciate small amounts of sugary stuffs. Reserve desserts for special occasions or for when you eat out. At restaurants, share one dessert among the family. At home, serve desserts on small dishes so modest servings seem like a plateful. A little can go a long way when it comes to sugars.
#5 Don’t tie sweets to occasions
Holidays, movie outings and visits to Grandma are all occasions when sugar can become a habit. Instead of candy at the movies, shake this habit by eating lunch just before your flick or bring a bag of trail mix or grapes. Ask the grandparents to offer fresh fruit and cut back on sweets in the Christmas stocking and Easter basket. Replace with small toys, fruits and other fun non-food items. At Halloween, make the “candy witch” tradition – if they hand over their candy, they get toys or coins to replace them.
Please share your tips, in the comments below, on ways you cut back on sugar at your house!
Contact Dr Judy’s office for an appointment today
If your child has visible cavities, a toothache or is overdue for a cleaning or dental checkup, please call Dr. Brad Judy’s office today for an appointment. We accept most dental insurance and Dr. Judy is an expert at putting kids at ease and practices gentle dentistry. Call us at (206) 232-5866 for an appointment at our Mercer Island office.