The Sugar Message and Kids

The Sugar Message and Kids

Are you finding yourself questioning how much sugar you and your family are having? The sugar tax debate and media on sugar in food and drinks is making some parents confused and worried. This can be more so if your child has a ‘sweet tooth’. From all this talk in the home and even at school, children may start to worry about what they are eating.

Parents want to give their kids a healthy start. We know children need foods that nourish them and help them grow, healthy and strong. We also want them to be able to have a healthy and positive relationship with food for life. Food is more than about nourishment. It also brings us pleasure and helps us connect with others. As parents we want to teach our children how to nourish themselves as well as experience the pleasure and joy of eating.

Moderation is key

A simple way to reassure yourself and your children is to think, “every food has a place”. This means that no food needs to be completely off limits. High sugar foods become very desirable when restricted.

Role model variety and balance yourself:

  1. Include foods with higher sugar content as part of a family meal or snack sometimes. This way you can model sharing and enjoying this food together.
  2. Have some basic structure for when you have these foods or drinks. For example, say “we don’t have juice at home but when we go out for a meal you may choose it then.” Or, “when I make dessert on Sunday we will have chocolate pudding then, tonight we have yoghurt and fruit.” It’s up to you what and how often you include these foods.
  3. Try not to talk about any food in a shaming or negative way. Don’t use “diet talk” words like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to describe food or a way of eating. Keep it neutral. For example, instead of saying “we are not having soft drink as it makes you fat.” you could say, “we are having water because it is a better thirst quencher.” Instead of “I am bad I ate that cake” you could say “that cake was yummy and it was nice we could share it.”
  4. Have regular and enjoyable meals and snacks, ideally at similar times each day based on foods from the five food groups. Read more about how and what to feed children

We have all had moments where we eat more than we are hungry for. This is normal. If children ask about what they are eating talk to them about it. Find out if something is worrying them. To find out more go to the Healthy Kids website