Cutting back on sweet treats

With Halloween approaching soon it is important to remember to limit the number of foods and beverages with added sugars your kids eat and drink. If you don’t buy them, your kids won’t get them very often. Sweet treats and sugary drinks have a lot of calories but few nutrients. Most added sugars come from sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, juice drinks, cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy, and other desserts. 

Here are 9 tips below that can help you cut back on your kid’s sweet treats. 

  1. Pay attention to portion sizes. Candy comes in all shapes and sizes. If you choose to indulge, avoid full-size candy bars, which can lead to overeating. One full-size candy bar can equal three to four servings. Opting for a mini or snack size is a better bet. In general, reducing portion size is key when eating high-calorie desserts.
  2. Use the check-out lane that does not display candy. Most grocery stores will have a candy-free check-out lane to help parents out. Waiting in a store line makes it easy for children to ask for the candy that is right in front of their faces to tempt them.
  3. Choose not to offer sweets as rewards. By offering food as a reward for good behavior, children learn to think that some foods are better than other foods. Reward your child with kind words and comforting hugs, or give them non-food items, like stickers, to make them feel special.
  4. Make treats not everyday foods. Treats are great once in a while. Just don’t make treats an everyday thing. Limit sweet treats to special occasions.
  5. Make fruit the everyday dessert. Serve baked apples, pears, or enjoy a fruit salad. Or serve yummy frozen juice bars (100% juice) instead of high-calorie desserts.
  6. Encourage kids to invent new snacks. Make your own snack mixes from dry whole-grain cereal, dried fruit, and unsalted nuts or seeds. Provide the ingredients and allow kids to choose what they want in their “new” snack.
  7. Plan ahead. Consider stocking your kitchen with healthy snacks, such as vegetables and hummus, cottage cheese and fruit, protein shakes, or small slices of cheese and some grapes, so your kids are less tempted to eat candy as a fuel source.
  8. Be a last-minute buyer- Avoid buying candy or sweets in the weeks leading up to Halloween, as you are more likely to indulge in them. Try to buy candy closer to Oct. 31 and only buy what you think you will need. The same rule applies for other holidays or celebrations to help eliminate sweet tooth triggers around the house.
  9. Sort out the kids’ favorites. Help your child pick their favorite candy from the total bounty they received, while trick or treating. Keep their favorites and consider discarding, or donating, the rest. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.

 Shakera Williams, M.P.H.

Assistant Nutrition Extension Agent/ Webster Parish Chair

General & SNAP-Ed Nutrition – Webster/Claiborne Parishes