5 tips for reducing sugar consumption

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…)


reducing sugar consumption


It’s time for the annual sugar detox! Want to know my 5 tips for reducing sugar consumption by your family?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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’. 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? 



  1. I also find that focusing on vegetables first in my meal planning helps retrain our palettes. Plus, having my children help in the kitchen and in our garden.

    I would love for you to share these tips at Motivation Monday where we encourage moms with healthy recipes, fitness tips, and personal growth tips. (http://alifeinbalance.net/motivation-monday-2013-resolutionsgoalsintentions/)
    Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted…going greener in 2013: cost of the vegetable gardenMy Profile

    • Barb, those are both excellent suggestions. My children love to help in the kitchen, although their preference is making cookies… I need to work on expanding their culinary repertoires!

      Thanks for the invitation to share!

  2. I was just singing in my head…TODAY is the day the LORD has made…. (even though I haven’t heard that song in quite a while??) Its the day to take charge~thank him~and move forward with my plan to get IT right THIS year!!

    Sugar Detox 101 has begun!
    Kathy recently posted…2012 Reflections ~ Welcome 2013!My Profile

    • EXcellent timing Kathy! Out with the old habits, in with the new! If you’re interested in joining in, I have a daily workout up on my Facebook page each and every day in January (Fitknitchick).

  3. It’s usually just *me* who’s trying to get off sugar – found getting DH and DD off hopeless – although REDUCING it significantly has been successful by suggesting alternatives and upping protein (for my DD). Just yesterday, mid-morning, DD asked, “can I have a cookie?” and I suggested I scramble her 2 eggs b/c she hadn’t had much for breakfast earlier. She agreed (reluctantly), ate the eggs and didn’t ask for cookies again ’til 4. 😉

    • Yes, it’s always hard to get the family on board. I find I just need to be consistent and persistent!

  4. People are always amazed I used to be a sugar ADDICT!
    no will power here at all either 🙂
    I just feeeeeel so much better.
    Miz recently posted…The secret to YOUR 2013 success.My Profile

    • If you can do it, I can too!
      (I just can’t imagine you drinking soda and munching on cookies…)

  5. GREAT POST & doable!!!! That #4 – YES to ready & available to eat healthy snacks! All studies show that this works!

    As for the dumping of treats you really don’t want around to tempt you – I do this all year round! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Happy Birthday Brooke!!!My Profile

    • My other little trick for allowing myself a small sugary treat without going overboard is to buy a single serving (rather than the Costco size box…), eat it and move on!

  6. Love these ideas! And for the fruit and yogurt for dessert? I highly recommend adding cinnamon–a healthy spice, yet it definitely has a “sweet” taste to it and adds some kick and body to healthier dessert options that may seem plainer at first when transitioning to less sugar.
    Allie recently posted…Remembering the AlamoMy Profile

    • Cinnamon! That’s brilliant! I think there may also be some talk about it being a metabolic booster as well? REgardless, any way to add more taste to less sweet foods is a great idea!

  7. Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana says:

    You are more generous than me, there is no dessert at our house. My daughter gets obsessive about any treats in the house so I just avoid them. She gets plenty of sweets through school and random other places plus the holidays.
    Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana recently posted…Just a Few Healthy Habits Create a Bitchin’ Body and HealthMy Profile

    • I don’t know if generous is the right word, Suzanne 😉
      I do know that I grew up in a house without processed sweet treats (my mom did bake, but she healthified everything) and that’s exactly what I CRAVED when I moved out!
      I want to teach my children to indulge in moderation. To be able to pass up crappy treats (think Oreo cookies) but allow themselves a small, occasional serving of something really worth tasting!

      • Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana says:

        Interesting. We never had sweets growing up either but I didn’t crave them later thankfully. Good luck!!

        • Suzanne, are you more of a ‘salty’ person? Me, I can pass up chips and nuts etc, but it’s the sweet that gets me…

          • Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana says:

            Nope, I’ve developed an intolerance salty foods. Not even chips and nuts 🙂

  8. Wait a second, who told you that I hide my leftover holiday cookies in the freezer?? I know I have to throw them away. They really do tempt me every.single.day (or hour?). All the sugar over the holidays have been bad this year and I definitely feel it. I definitely need to do this. Thanks for the push.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Jumpstarting the New YearMy Profile

    • Ha! I’ve got eyes everywhere, Christine 😉
      I find the hardest thing to get rid of is the lovely, dark chocolate my neighbour gave the kids. They don’t like it, but I sure do! And it has all of those antioxidants, right?

  9. This is my area of weakness. I’m so good at eating healthy foods and exercising, but I do like my daily treat. I don’t really want to give it up, because I think it helps keep me in check. But I did go overboard over the holidays (who didn’t?), and now I must reign it in. Love your suggestions. Great post.
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…Short And–Well, Short AnywayMy Profile

  10. Yes! We are on sugar detox as well and these are great tips!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted…Looking Back and Looking Forward… The Art of TransitionMy Profile

  11. My kids claim they are sweets (and junk food) deprived with my no more than 9 g of sugar in cereal type of rules. Of course they envy their friends’ pantries but all in all they’re not big sweets eaters and if sweet treats aren’t in the house it isn’t a big deal. So, I guess my simple tip is to not have sweets in the house or at least very minimal.
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted…Living Life with Intention || Goals for 2013My Profile

    • My kids don’t eat a lot of cereal (after I started really reading labels, we stopped buying most). But they do like their syrup/nutella on breakfast pancakes and waffles. I’m looking to perfect my home-made, low-sugar nutella recipe this winter!

  12. I really need to do this after a holiday filled eating fest. We still have tons of Halloween candy in the pantry. I am going to throw it away today!
    hikermom recently posted…Three Things ThursdayMy Profile

    • It’s amazing how long that hallowe’en candy sticks around! We were letting them have one piece a day but I’m starting to think that maybe letting them eat as much as they want for a few days then throwing it all out might be a better option…

  13. Tamara, what are some of the things your kids eat for breakfast? We have a family full of SWEET TEETH. It’s pretty bad. My love of baking, even if it’s healthier..still makes for addicts around here. I’m trying to do the 21 Day Sugar Detox right now, but it’s rough for me being a vegetarian and not having many protein options as the meat eaters do on this plan. Just curious about the breakfast because even though I do the 9g or less of sugar in cereals, I still wish there were more alternatives.

    • Jillian, my boys like their eggs, toast and fruit. My picky eater prefer pancakes; we make them from scratch and augment nutrients by adding quinoa flakes, wheat germ, flax seed and almond flour. She loves them covered with nutella; I’m working on a lower sugar version…

      What about protein shakes for yourself? Vegan powder, spinach/kale, fruit and almond or coconut milk? Or you could make your own granola, without all the extra sugar, making sure you’ve added nuts and seeds with good fat and higher protein content.

  14. Did we ever consume too much sugar! My daughter came into my room last night and said, “Mommy, I want dessert!” I felt a wave of panic. How will I get her to not expect a sugary treat after a meal, after this whole month of sugar filled evenings?
    Great post.
    Martha @ MarthaWills(dot)com recently posted…Building Your Website by Choosing the Right ThemeMy Profile

    • Martha, stay strong! We need to remember that we’re the parents. We know best (or at least think we do!). Be firm and consistent and don’t get drawn into the emotionality of the situation. I tell my children, too much sugar isn’t good for them. That we’re focusing on healthy foods because we love each other and want to enjoy each other’s company for a long time to come.

      Let me know how it goes! (always easier said than done…)

  15. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been conducting a little
    research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him.
    .. lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!
    ! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about
    this matter here on your site.


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