Limit the amount of foods and beverages with added sugars you and your kids eat and drink this summer. Make a challenge this summer to not buy them or not to buy them as often. Sweet treats and drinks have a lot of calories and very little nutrients. Most added sugars come from sodas, sports drinks, juice drinks, candy, ice cream, cakes, pies and other desserts.
Here are some tips to help you and your children.
- Serve small portions. It is not necessary to eliminate all sweets and desserts. Small amounts of treats can go a long way. Use smaller plates and bowls for these foods. Rather than eat a whole candy bar or large cupcake only, eat half.
- Drink smarter. Soda and other sweet drinks contain lots of sugar and are high in calories. Offer water, tea, 100 percent juice or fat-free milk when you or the kids are thirsty.
- Use the checkout lane that doesn’t display candy. Most stores have candy-free checkout lanes to help you and your children from being tempted.
- Choose not to offer sweets as rewards. By offering food as a reward for good behavior, children learn to think that some foods are better than other foods. Reward your children with kind words and comforting hugs, kind words, non-food items like stickers to make them feel special.
- Make fruit the everyday dessert. Fruit is nature’s candy and you can enjoy fruit so many ways. Serve baked apples, pears or enjoy a fruit salad. You can serve yummy frozen juice bars that are 100% fruit juice with not sugar added.
- Make food fun. Sugary foods are usually marketed as fun foods. Make nutritious foods fun by preparing them with your children and being creative together. You can create smiley faces with bananas and raisin. Cut fruit into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters.
- Invent new snacks. Encourage your family to make up their own snack mixes. Try mixing whole-grain cereal, dried fruit and unsalted nuts or seeds. Have ingredients on hand and allow kids to choose what they want in their “new” snack.
- Play Cereal Detective. Show your family how much sugar is in various cereals. Challenge them to compare cereals they like and select the one with the lowest amount of sugar.
- Make treats “treats,” not everyday foods. Treats are great once in a while. Just don’t make treat foods an everyday thing. Limit sweets to special occasions.
- If kids or adults don’t eat their meal, they don’t need sweet “extras.” Keep in mind that candy or cookies should not replace foods that are not eaten at mealtime.
For more information, Contact Sherri Halsell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Clay County agent, at 538-5042.