White sugar, brown sugar, icing sugar, maple syrup, chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, dried cranberries and graham cracker crumbs. Just a few of the sugar-laden ingredients that starred in my family’s holiday menus.
Our twice weekly dessert night has morphed into a nightly event. Baked goods are nibbled with afternoon tea. Visits with friends and family always feature sweet over savoury. (And there may or may not be some Hallowe’en candy still lurking about…)
It’s time for the annual sugar detox! Want to know my 5 tips for reducing sugar consumption by your family?
- Get rid of all the remaining holiday baking. Dump it in the garbage and immediately take out the trash. Don’t give it away to friends (they don’t need it either). Don’t hide it in the freezer (it will tempt you daily). If you just can’t stand throwing food away, take all unopened items (boxes of chocolate, store bought cookies, baking ingredients) to your nearest food bank, pronto.
- Make a plan to give up dessert night for the remainder of the month. Replace ‘treats’ with fruit and yogurt. The goal here is to re-train your family’s palate. Expect some resistance. Even the sweetest of fruit tastes fairly bland after a regular diet of high fat, high sugar baked goods.
- Gradually transition them from prepackaged foods to ‘made from scratch’ alternatives. In my experience, slowly weaning my children off of store bought cereals and granola bars works better than going ‘cold turkey’. Once the boxes are empty, scratch those items from your grocery list.
- Create readily available healthy snack alternatives. Buy an exquisite fruit bowl. Place it in the centre of your kitchen table and fill it with an assortment of ready-to-eat fruits. Encourage your children to help themselves. Take them grocery shopping with you (as painful as that may be…) and allow them to help choose their favourites. Be open to trying new things!
- Experiment with new, low or no-added sugar recipes. Thousands of delicious recipes can be found by searching Google and Pinterest for the terms ‘healthy desserts’, ‘low sugar recipes’, ‘no sugar baking’. I’ve even published a few. Add these back in next month, after everyone’s taste buds have become accustomed to eating less sugar.
Don’t expect your family to embrace your attempts at reducing sugar consumption! My kids will complain loudly and frequently! But I love them enough to place their health above my (temporary) happiness.
Have you ever tried to cut back on your family’s sugar consumption?
What tips and tricks worked best?