Sweet taste begets sweet taste – and this is the bitter truth. A kids’ natural liking or tendency to opt for sweets can result in a battle – and parents generally lose the score. Too much sugar is bad, we all know, and letting your child develop the sweet tooth will only put him at a risk of health problems later in life.
How much sugar is okay for my child?
Not exactly measureable, there is no set quantity of sugar that one can have. But because it is addictive, too much sugar can make your child develop a sweet tooth and intake more sugar than necessary. A child’s daily diet should not contain sweets or deserts, or sugary mithais. Though sugar is the first flavour a baby tastes through breast milk, yet it is not advisable to give sugar or salts to infants under age of one.
Health effects of too much sugar:
The fact that sugar does not supply the body with minerals or vitamins, corresponds to saying that sugar intake needs to be moderated due to health repercussions. Too much sugary food can cause the below (not limited to) health problems to your child in the longer run:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Tooth decay and oral problems
- Behavioral problems, increase in tantrums and pestering
How can I fight my child’s sweet tooth?
If your child has sweets, chances are that he will ask for more. Sugar needs of the body do not get satisfied easily, and you will end up with a child who is sweet obsessed. To fight the habit, the below 10 strategies can be helpful:
- Reduce the sugar beverages: Sweetened beverages occupy our refrigerators at all times. The first thing to do is to clear all such sugary beverages like juices, sodas, colas, energy drinks and the like
- Serve food in natural taste: If you are in the habit of adding sugar to everyday foods that you give to your child, leave it here. You serve sweetened curd to your child one day, he will never like the plain curd the next day. Reserve the sweet taste for deserts only
- Dump high calorie sweets: More often than not, Indians will ask ‘whats for desert’ just after dinner. If your idea of a desert is beautiful round gulabjamuns or barfi’s , dump them right away
- Tackle positively: You cannot cut in sweets from your child’s diet completely. The idea is to tackle the sweet stories in a positive way. Candies, chocolates and ice-creams should be given in moderation. Do not ban your child from having sweets either; instead let him know that too much of it is bad and he will get some after school
- Refrain from bribing the child: Do not bribe your kid with promise of a candy, this is a huge no. Studies have proven that kids who are anticipating a sweet treat are less likely to enjoy any other food served to them
- Serve deserts with dinner: If you are in a family that likes desert after dinner, make sure that you serve the kids’ their desert in the dinner plate itself. The kids will enjoy their meal and will not hold back their hunger
- No second servings on deserts: While daal and rice can be served again to the kids, make sure that the desert does not promise a second serving. Stick to small bowls and plates and serve small portions
- Be a role model: In a home where sweets are a regular affair, you cannot expect a child to say no to sugary and sweet foods. Whenever offered, make it a point to refuse (even if you want to gobble that last piece of cake) sweets and explain your child that since Mummy has already had some cake, she would not have more or her teeth will decay. Talking frequency instead of talking good and bad will help better. Opt for healthy desert choices like fruits
- Satisfy the little tummy sometimes: Every once in a while, let your kids enjoy deserts as they want to. Prepare something at home with a mild sweet taste and let your child take the lead
- Eat when you are hungry: Make them learn that eating is not dependent on availability of food, but on hunger. One must not binge on the pastry or a pack of chips just because it is in the cabinet, but one must eat because the body is hungry
Help your child distinguish between good and bad foods, and help them make decisions based on empathy. Binding children into rules does not help, factual reasoning does. Give them, the knowledge to make decisions on their own, which will also serve them in the long run.