4 Fun Ideas to Make the Journey to Eating Less Sugar Easier

We have heard so much lately about how sugar is causing health challenges in our young people. I believe it is also affecting their emotional and mental wellbeing.

When I started limiting my sugar intake about 10 years ago I noticed that my mental clarity improved and my emotions levelled out. My son, who is 3, eats very little sugar BUT if he does overindulge I notice a real difference in his ability to think and act beyond his emotions. His body seems to get caught up in his emotional responses and even redirection becomes very difficult. Each person has a unique response to sugar. Pay attention to how yours and your child’s body responds.

Since most sugar intake comes from junk foods, drinks and processed foods which contain little to no nutrients, it only makes that our brains are being depleted of the nutrients necessary to keep them healthy. How effectively we are able to think and concentrate impacts our mental and emotional health, including the ability to problem solve and to bounce back from challenges.

We seem to have lost the art of eating. Sitting down to eat a meal, appreciating the value of real food and what it means to our bodies and our well being, is being replaced with whatever we can grab quickly – fast things to put in our mouth to satisfy our hunger or craving. We tend to make food choices based on our emotions. Since most sugary items taste yummy, it can be very difficult to say No to them. For me, the less I eat sugary foods the less I crave or want them. Eating lots of sugary treats used to be a daily ritual – especially ‘sour keys’ candy. I craved them. I even dreamed about them.

We now know that these high levels of sugar consumption including diet sugars can cause depression, anxiety, fatigue, aggressive behaviour, memory and learning impairments as well as diabetes.

Getting yourself and your family to reduce sugar intake might seem like a daunting task, however, the benefits will be worth the effort. You may be thinking, ‘Easy for you to Say but how?’

Here are 4 Fun Ideas to Make the Journey to Eating Less Sugar Easier:

1. Teach What Sugar Does to Our Bodies

Educating on the affects of sugar is important. I have found, that with my son, when I give or show the reason for a choice, he understands and is willing to go along with that choice.

Here is a child friendly video I discovered that explains what sugar does to our bodies. It is also important to advocate and support healthier food options in the cafeteria, vending machines, classrooms and events at your child’s school.

2. Keep a Food Journal

This is a fun, educational way to spend time together while discovering healthier ways to eat.

Choose a journal together. Plan a time when you & your children can shop for the Food Journal (dollar stores have lots of varieties). Each day write down all the foods you & your children have eaten that contain sugar. Then beside those foods write healthy foods that could replace those sugary foods. Example: instead of ice cream, freeze plain Greek yogurt and add favourite fruits. Instead of pop add lemon or lime to sparkling water or just plain water.

3. Become a Sugar Detective

There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. How many you can name using resources at the library or on the internet. Then with your list in hand – off to the grocery store to see how many foods you and your children can find that have the sugars on your list. You might need a magnifying glass to read some of them.

4. Explore a Whole New World of Foods

Each week try a new food. Make sure the labels are being read for added sugars if buying packaged foods. Have each family member either write or videotape a fun review about their taste experience. Post it on social media, read to friends, family members, classmates etc. I am sure there will be lots of laughs.

By banning sugary foods completely that may only make them more appealing. Since my family still likes to have a ‘sugary treat’ once in awhile, I make cookies using honey or maple syrup or coconut sugar. Although still sugars, those ones also have nutrients making them a healthier version.

Here is a recipe for cookies that my son, Kai and husband love:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup pastry flour or brown rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (aluminum free)
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup natural chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 tbsp of coconut oil
  • ¼ cup coconut milk

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a separate large bowl mix wet ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while stirring with a large spoon until mixture is like a dough. Put 1 large tbsp size of dough on a cookie sheet with space between to allow cookies to expand while baking. Bake at 350 for 15 mins or until a light brown colour.

Enjoy! I’d love to hear if you have any tips for reducing sugar intake, tweet me @sarawestbrook