5 Ways to Help Our Kids Eat Less Sugar…and still enjoy the season!

5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!It’s that time of year again.

It’s almost unavoidable.

I like to call it sugar season.  Other people call it Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years. The time of year when candy is literally thrown at our kids and you can’t go anywhere without being offered a sugary treat.  

Our Approach to Sugar

Now I am not one of those people who take an all or nothing approach to sugar.  I severely limit refined sugar intake in our household (you can read why here), but when we are out and about, my kids are allowed to enjoy treats because a large part of fellowship happens around food. Fellowship always wins (except for with food allergies of course!).

I think it’s important to be flexible and not legalistic about our food.  For this reason we follow the 80/20 rule.  We focus on nutrient-dense, real food when we are at home (about 80%+ of the time) and we don’t worry about the rest when we are at church, celebrations, birthday parties, or other occasions (less than 20% of the time).

5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!

Putting it in Perspective

As sugar season approaches, let’s put our sugar intake into perspective:

According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, “Children ages 4-8 with a daily caloric intake of 1,600 calories should consume no more than 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons [of sugar] a day.” (source)

Now let’s evaluate a common food for children in that age range – the famous peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   I chose brands for this analysis that are well-known and that parents might choose while grocery shopping.5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!

Two slices of bread = 6 grams of sugar.

5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!

1 tablespoon of jelly = 13 grams of sugar

5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!

2 tablespoons of peanut butter = 3 grams of sugar

Therefore, if you are not consciously buying products without sugar, a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich could contain about 22 grams of sugar.  That is equal to 5 1/2 teaspoons of sugar which is 2 1/2 teaspoons over the recommended daily limit.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are not the only source of hidden sugars.  You can also find hidden sugars in seemingly healthy things like applesauce and spaghetti sauce.

5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!

This applesauce has 22 grams of sugar, which is equal to about 5 1/2 teaspoons of sugar.  Some of the sugar is natural, but most of it is from the added high fructose corn syrup. Certainly one serving of this applesauce will put your young child over their daily limit of refined sugar intake.

5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!

This spaghetti sauce has 11 grams of sugar.  This is equal to a little less than 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving which is the recommended allowance for refined sugar in kids 4-8.  Again, some of those sugars occur naturally, but a lot of it is from the added refined sugar which is what we want to avoid.

Do you see where the problem is?  If you are eating processed foods at every meal, you are consuming a lot of hidden sugars.  Most kids can far exceed their recommended daily allowance of sugar before even eating a single “treat”. Throw in the holiday season and we have a huge sugar problem!

What can we do to help our kids eat less sugar?

We know that sugar intake lowers the immune system response, depletes the body of magnesium, causes insulin resistance, and is highly addictive (think of picky eaters who only want sugary/starchy foods). This season we need to be diligent in reducing those hidden sugars, so that when the opportunity arrives to indulge in a sweet treat, it won’t be overloading their little bodies.

5 ways to help our kids eat less sugar...and still enjoy the season!

5 Ways to Help Your Kids Eat Less Sugar

  1. Eat mainly real food ingredients. When you make your food at home, you can control the ingredients that go into it.  This means more nutrients and less refined sugars going into their little bodies.
  2. If you are going to buy processed foods, become a diligent label reader.  It is possible to find store-bought items without added sugars.  Here’s a post I wrote about that: 5 Simple Real Food Exchanges to Reduce Sugar in Your Diet
  3. Drink water.  Cut the juices, sodas, and sports drinks during this season.  Our kids love them, but they certainly contain more than 3 teaspoons of sugar and are completely unnecessary nutrient-wise. Sugared drinks are the number one source of added sugars in our diet.
  4. Eat first.  If you are heading to a party or social gathering, fill up their tummies on some good food first.  That way they can indulge on some small, sugary treats and still be satisfied without binge eating.
  5. Be honest.  Explain moderation to your kids.  Talk about the difference between foods God gave us and foods that man has made.

I think it’s also important to enjoy yourself.  If your kids see you completely stressing out about every bite of food they are putting in their mouth, they may become sneaky or resentful about their sugar intake. Take joy in knowing that they are getting nourishing food most of the time and don’t sweat it.  Seriously. Fellowship always wins.

For more information about what we do when we have consumed too much sugar, read here: How to Recover From Eating Too Much Sugar

What do you do to help your kids eat less sugar?


The Most Underwhelming Homemaking Project Ever (+ Simple Meals Friday)

Once upon a time I decided to clean out my spice cabinet.  It was ridiculously crowded and was very unorganized.  So I cleaned and scrubbed and eliminated and organized and took a step back to view the final product and realized it didn’t look any different than it did when I started!  Don’t you hate when that happens?!?!

Here was the messy cabinet before.  Don’t judge. Mama uses a lot of spices.  And coconut oil.  And vanilla (that’s what the mason jar on the top shelf is.)  But not sugar.  That’s for my kombucha baby and water kefir. pantry 002

Now before I show you the dreadfully disappointing after picture, let’s all take a moment of silence for this:

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I had no idea we had run out.  Boo hoo.  This stuff is amazing if you haven’t tried it yet.  And while we are at it, we can also take a moment of silence for these:

pantry 009 pantry 011 pantry 006

Why, oh why do I have so many empty spice jars in my cabinet?! I have become THAT person.  The person who leaves dishes in the sink when the dishwasher is empty and who leaves empty spice jars in the cabinets for no good reason.

Moving on.  I also got rid of this:

pantry 008

That little sucker was left over from my non-real food days.  I had forgotten all about him.  Somehow he has lived in my cabinets for years.  He was probably hiding behind all my empty spice jars.  Sigh.

And here’s the after picture you have all been waiting for (just humor me):pantry 013


Please tell me I’m not the only crazy spice lady with empty jars in messy cabinets? And now for some yummy meals to make you forget all that you have just seen.


Welcome to Simple Meals Friday!

There is nothing like having a collection of simple meals to throw together in a slow cooker in the morning or in a skillet as a quick, last-minute dinner. What are your favorite to prepare slow cooker meals, skillet meals, freezer meals, soups, salads, drinks and desserts?

We want to know the foods to turn to when you are short of time. It’s great to learn from and be inspired by others. When you share your recipe on this link-up it will show up on all 3 of the host’s sites. If you don’t have a blog, no problem, you can also share your recipes in the comments.

Meet Your Hosts

  1. Katie Mae of Nourishing Simplicity
  2. Katie of Simple Foody
  3. Sarah of Simple Life Abundant Life

Please Read and Follow these Simple Meals Friday Rules

  • Keep the foods “nourishing”, such as homemade chicken stocks, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats (lard, coconut oil, butter, olive oil, tallow), unrefined sugars, flours and salts and meats.
  • Please don’t include recipes using processed oils such as soy and canola oil, msg laden bouillon and other highly processed foods. If I notice a recipe using these ingredients it will be deleted. Try to incorporate traditional methods of preparing foods like, sprouting, soaking, sourdough and lacto-fermentation.
  • Link back to this blog hop, it is a common linking courtesy. It helps to build a stronger blogging community. That way we can all learn and share with each other.

We enjoyed reading all your submissions. The hosts will pick a favorite post to feature on next week’s Simple Meals Friday. If you want to be featured please be sure to link back to this blog hop. Our favorites will be featured on facebook and pinterest!

Featured Simple Meals


Shreded Chicken with Asain Ginger Sauce from Avocado Pesto

Are you ready to link-up?