Subtle Ways to Kick Your Kid’s Sugar Cravings With Healthier Eating Habits This Year

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7 Ways to Curb Your Child’s Sweet Tooth Cravings and Build Better Eating Habits

Sugar addiction is a big problem for many parents and their children. Trying to break unhealthy eating habits and curbing cravings for sweets can feel like a battle, but the reward is a happy child with a healthier body, brain, and smile.

Here are seven ways you can help kick your child’s sugar cravings without trying to make overwhelming or unrealistic changes.

1. Start the day off right by swapping sugary breakfast foods for healthier ones.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many typical American breakfasts are loaded with sugar. Whether it be kids’ favorite cereal or pancakes smothered in syrup, eating something sweet at breakfast can often trigger kids to have additional sugar cravings later in the day, especially when experiencing a sugar crash after a too-sweet breakfast.

Start off the day the right way by providing low-sugar, plain cereals or oatmeal, swapping syrup on pancakes for peanut or nut butter, and offering fresh fruit in place of a glass of orange juice.

2. Purge your pantry and refrigerator of any sugary or unhealthy snacks.

Out of sight, out of mind is a very appropriate proverb when it comes to fighting a sweet tooth. Clear out your pantry, fridge, and cupboards of any sweet, sugary snacks and pre-packaged meals. If you have your own snacks, place these in an area that isn’t accessible to your child.

By purging your home of the sweet treats you’re trying to help your child avoid, you’ll be reducing the chances of them seeing a food item that sparks a sugar craving.

3. Offer milk or water at mealtimes rather than juice or other sweet drinks.

Beverages can have a lot of hidden sugars and calories that parents don’t consider when serving their kids. Juices and sports drinks are two prime examples of common drinks served at mealtimes or as snacks that are often loaded with sugar and may increase sweet tooth cravings.

You can reduce the overall sugar your child consumes in a day by simply providing only milk or water as a drink during meals. Milk is especially important as it provides calcium for strong bones and teeth.

4. Set quantity and time limits for enjoying sweet treats.

When your child does have dessert or a sweet treat, you can reduce the risk of cavities by limiting how much they can eat and limiting the time they have to enjoy their treats.

Provide a serving or less of the treat they want and have them consume it within one sitting rather than eating or drinking it for an extended period of time. After they’re done eating, have them floss and brush their teeth to remove traces of any sugar or food debris. Doing this limits the amount of time sugar is present on their teeth, thus reducing the damage that can occur to their tooth enamel.

5. Don’t go extreme with diet changes, especially with serious sweet tooths.

Kids balk at extreme changes, just like adults. While an adult may be able to make the choice to go cold turkey on a new diet, kids rarely have this level of willpower or understanding. Even though you may be really excited to make healthy diet changes for your family, be cautious of extreme expectations. This is especially true if your child really has a strong sweet tooth.

Take things slowly, make gradual changes, and be understanding of how your child feels. Take small, gradual steps to a new low-sugar diet and you’ll find much less resistance and better results.

6. Dilute fruit juice with water to help wean your child from these drinks.

Fruit is a great source of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but fruit juice isn’t entirely as healthy as many parents realize. Even 100% fruit juice without any added sugar isn’t necessarily the healthiest choice as it still contains all of the sugar of many servings of fruit without the fiber and other components that make up raw fruit. This means it’s easy for kids to consume far more fruit in juice form than raw form. This can be detrimental to their oral health, especially in the case of citrus fruit juices that contain enamel-harming acids as well as sugar.

If your child is a fiend for fruit juice, start weaning them off of it by gradually diluting their juice with water. In total, most children shouldn’t have more than 6 to 8 ounces of pure fruit juice per day. Keep this in mind as you dilute their juice and help them kick their sugar cravings.

7. Lead by example when it comes to prioritizing healthy eating habits.

Your own eating habits play a big role in how your child thinks and feels about food. One of the most effective ways of helping your child develop healthy eating habits that stick is to show them through your own actions that you prioritize a healthy diet. Talk to them about the food choices you make, get them involved in cooking meals, and be open about sugar cravings.

You can even come closer together as a family by having everyone work on their sweet tooth rather than approaching the situation as a parent telling their child what to do.

Your child’s pediatric dentist is a great source of information and guidance on healthier eating habits.

A pediatric dentist has unique insight into how diet plays a role in kids’ oral health. During your child’s next appointment, make it a goal to discuss your child’s staple diet and how you can help create a more nutritious, low-sugar meal plan for your family.

You can schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist today by calling your preferred Pediatric Dental Specialists location or using this online form.