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What are the realistic ways we can curb the avalanche of sugar that comes with the summer season?
That's the question we should be asking ourselves as school comes to an end. But notice one key word in that sentence: realistic. We don't expect you to lock up your kids when the ice cream truck comes around or replace their s'mores with kale.
But, we do hope that you take some simple steps to controlling the amount of sugar your children are taking in this summer.
1. Foods with lots of added sugar (we're talking soda, cookies, cake, candy, some frozen sweets & some fruit drinks) often equate to low amounts of nutrients, causing increased risk of childhood obesity & tooth decay.
2. Foods with added sugar are tasty, leading to kids overconsuming these foods rather than naturally practicing moderation (this is where you come in!).
3. Post-sugar meltdowns. They're a real thing, caused by increased blood-sugar levels following the consumption of sugar-rich foods and then a quick drop caused by insulin int he body, making kids feel shaky, sluggish, and craving more sweets.
Although sugar can lead to some serious issues for young ones, that doesn't mean that it cannot be consumed in moderation. So, this summer take the necessary steps to managing how much sugar your kids are putting into their bodies and, in good ole' Get Movin' Crew style, have some fun doing it!
Put the Control in Your Hands: Homemade Treats
What's an easier way to manage sugar-intake than recipes that allow you to literally control how much sweet goodness goes in?
Kids love to cool down with popsicles during the summer! Plus, popsicles are our go-to choice for a healthy, sweet snack after Fun Runs. Make your own popsicles with sugar free juice, then build them up with different flavors, shapes, etc. to make it fun! Here is a great list full of healthy homemade popsicle ideas.
Make some homemade lemonade, fruit punch or iced tea with your kids and limit the amount of sugar that goes into the beverage. Since sweetened drinks contain the largest amount of added sugar in the typical diet of U.S. children, this is a great way to cut out some of that pesky glucose!
Make it a Game: Fun Ways to Substitute in Fruits & Veggies
The Wheel of [Healthy] Fortune
Design a wheel that has a space for all possible fruits/vegetables you could have as a side dish with dinner and let the kids spin the wheel to have some control over what they get to eat. You could also have a few “free” spaces where the kids can decide which of the healthy options they want!
The Trade Off Game
Summer can also present the issue of too much "screen" time for kids. Computers, tablets, television, video games, these are all enticing ways to fill up day rather than going outside and getting active. Consider creating a little trade off game, where a some sweet treats like soda at dinner or ice cream for dessert can be traded for hours spent breaking a sweat outdoors.
Put it on the Grill
Most foods with added sugar come from pre-packaged snacks or drinks that are harder to keep track of and easier to over-indulge. Since summer allows us to take our meals outside, consider using it to your advantage! Use a grill or even an open fire to make some of your meals throughout the week, thus enforcing more fresh veggies and meats and steering away from foods that come in a bag. You can also make kebabs with veggies, fruits and lean meat to provide a fun way to eat healthy for you and your family.
Keep it Balanced, Keep it Simple
Snacking is healthy for kids, so don't feel like you have to get your kids on a strict no-sugar, no-snacking diet. Just make sure that you keep it balanced. For instance, for every sweet snack make sure there are two healthy ones. If your kid is going to their friend’s house and you pack up some snacks, you can include carrots, apple slices and a sugar-free pudding. A great compromise!