9 Ways To Curb Craving For Sugar In Kids
Does your kid prefer all things sweet? Are you looking for ways to break the habit? Read on to know how to go about it.
By Monali Bordoloi
Five-year-old Rohan prefers all things sweet. All his meals must be sweet, or he refuses to eat. He does not eat anything which is salty or savoury. He even wants his ‘daal’ to be sprinkled with sugar. His mother has recently read about the harm that too much of sugar can cause. She is now worried and is looking for ways to curb Rohan’s craving for sugar.
Most parents face this dilemma daily. In general, children prefer eating sweets. Once, they are hooked on to sugary food, they do not prefer salted food.
Paediatric Dietician Anuja Agarwal says, “If your kid prefers natural sweet foods like fruits, it is okay. However, table sugar beyond a limit is harmful. Childhood obesity is increasing on epidemic proportion. As India is also the diabetic capital of the world, we need to be extra careful about the amount of sugar our children are eating.”
However, cutting down on sugar completely is not desirable and possible as sugar is the key factor in determining the taste of food for children. From birth, a newborn baby is offered breast milk which is rich in sugar.
Anuja adds, “There is no need to worry, in most cases, the preference for sweetness generally declines as the child grows into adulthood. But, in some children, this heightened preference for sweets remains. These are individual preferences and has no accepted explanation."
A study conducted in the USA, suggests that children’s preference for sweet food is not only universal; it reflects basic biology.
Eating too much of sugary food will put your child at greater risk of developing tooth decay, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. But, do you know sugar affects children in some little-known ways too? It is said that children who are high on sugary diet are prone to a cough and cold, allergies and even have acid reflux. It is also said that hyperactivity in kids is linked with sugar consumption.
All said and done, but when it comes to cutting down sugar on your child’s food, it is a difficult task. As the child develops a taste for sweets, he resists cutting it down.
Best to proceed in this regard is to go slow in introducing sugary food to the child. From the beginning, introduce different types of food instead of only sugary food.
Here are some ways to curb sugar cravings:
- Don’t stock sugary food at home. Easy availability of such food will make your child crave for it more.
- Children learn a lot from parents, if you curb your intake of sugary food and introduce health food at the table, your child will slowly learn from it.
- If your child asks for ready-made fruit juices, mix some water in the juice, he will not notice the difference and this way you can cut down on sugar.
- Do not completely stop sugar from your child’s diet, or else he will react adversely. Try to phase out sugary stuff slowly and introduce interesting new food, one at a time.
- Instead of reaching for ice-cream or cupcakes, ask your child to consider having a sweet fruit like mango or banana for dessert.
- Go for the middle path, for example, if a child wants a sweet drink, opt for sweetened milk drink like lassi or badam milk or flavoured milk. Your child will derive the benefits of drinking milk and at the same time, his cravings for something sweet will be met with.
- Encourage your child to drink plain water instead of juice or flavoured drink. Avoid sports drinks as it has added sugar.
- Make the presentation of the food interesting, so that it appeals to your kid and her mind will be off sweets.
- Discuss different alternate food options with your kid and involve him in preparing food. This encourages him to eat healthy too.
With inputs from Anuja Agarwal, paediatric dietician at AIIMS and the executive member of the Indian Society of Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition.
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