Does your little sweetheart have a sweet tooth?


Children are genetically inclined to like sweets. It is rare to find children who will say no to a cookie, chocolate or cake, unless they have already had their fill. Does your little sweetheart have a sweet tooth?

Research says that sugar addiction in children can damage cells, lower immunity, make them hyperactive and irritable, and of course lead to obesity. A high-sugar diet can raise a child’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or the pre-diabetic condition known as insulin resistance syndrome. These are associated with various health problems in later life, such as heart disease and even infertility.

But saying no to or agreeing to that sweet treat every time does not really work. So, how do we strike a healthy balance?

It starts with you: Are you a chocolate addict yourself? If your child knows that, you can’t really preach about moderation now, can you? So rein in your temptations and set an example for your child.

Do it yourself: Homemade sweets allow you to include healthy ingredients, and allow your child to appreciate quality over quantity. A whole wheat muffin with beetroot or banana with honey instead of sugar is a great example. Children who develop a taste for homemade sweets generally steer away from processed foods.

Sugary drinks: Drinks like sodas have raised sugar consumption by 20% and have also raised the threshold of sweetness for children.  Avoid giving sodas or juices to children. Give them instead a banana and strawberry smoothie, which is more nutritious with controlled sugar content. Encourage consumption of water as well.

Hide them: Don’t make sweets easily accessible. In fact don’t buy them. Instead keep healthy snacks in view to encourage their consumption.

Don’t make a fuss: Parents usually have a strong reaction to sweets.  It is important to handle your child’s sugar cravings calmly in order to establish a healthy association with sugar in their minds. We want them to be able to control their sugar cravings without guilt.

Give them a sense of control: Let them know they can have one sweet a day or once in two days. Let them choose what and when. You will be surprised how they will exercise self control once you show them the way without being an extremist.

sweet_2Fruity treat: Help your child develop a taste for fruits. Not only are they healthier, with lots of vitamins and fibre, than chocolates but also help keep the sweet craving in bay.

Educate them: Explain to your child the negatives of too much refined sugar and how they can replace them with healthier foods. Give them sweet yet healthy options to consider. You may have to repeat the healthy food raga but it will register sooner or later.

Sufficient carbs: Children crave sugar more than adults as it is a source of energy that they need. Substituting chocolates bars with nutritious carbohydrates such as oatmeal cookies will provide the energy they need and will curb their sugar craving.

No sugar rewards: We all do it. “Eat your greens and you can have that pudding.”  We indicate to our children that the food they are eating is unexciting and there is a reward waiting at the end of that meal. We are, unwittingly, making sugar the hero. It is the easy road. Sure, but it can get sticky.

Start early and be consistent. If your child becomes disciplined in his/her consumption of sweets now, he/she will never struggle with unhealthy eating habits and the related diseases as an adult.


About Author

Based in St. Albans, Olivia writes mainly on motherhood, parenting, toddlers, early-age development and related subjects. Olivia is a stay-at-home mum to a beautiful 2-year old daughter.

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