Top sugar swaps for your family
Discover top tips and easy swaps to help your family cut down on added sugars, from switching to a more nutritious cereal to packing a low-sugar lunch.
The government's latest Better Health (Change4Life) campaign aims to encourage families to eat well and move more. This campaign encourages parents to make simple swaps to reduce the amount of sugar their children are eating. Orla Hugueniot, Better Health’s nutritionist, shares her top tips to get you started.
1. Swap sugary cereal for a lower sugar one
A bowl of higher-sugar cereal (including those that are frosted, honeyed or chocolate) can have around three cubes of sugar per serving, so try swapping to low-sugar cereals. Wheat biscuit cereals, shredded wholegrain cereal and porridge are all great choices that get the ‘Better Health’ campaign’s seal of approval.
Try these healthy porridge recipes – the whole family will love them:
And these healthier granolas:
2. Make a lunchbox swap
Simple swaps can make a big difference to the amount of sugar hidden in kids’ lunchboxes. Instead of chocolate, cake bars or pudding pots, swap to healthier options, like a lower-sugar yogurt, sugar-free jelly or slice of malt loaf. Get your kids excited about what’s in their lunchbox by having them help choose and prepare it. It's time spent together that will also get your kids thinking about healthier food choices.
Find more healthy lunchbox ideas for kids.
3. Swap your after-school snack
Children often get hungry when school finishes, so plan ahead – that way they don’t need to raid the biscuit barrel. Get into the habit of having some healthier snacks, such as whole fruit, vegetable sticks and dips or a savoury muffin on hand. That way, you won’t be caught out if your kids are peckish when they get home.
Discover our favourite child-friendly snacks that are under 100 calories.
And our perfect after-school snacks.
4. Drink smart
You might be surprised at the amount of sugar in many popular drinks. A can of regular cola, for example, can contain around nine cubes of sugar. Water and milk are the best choices for drinks, but swapping sugary cola and higher-sugar juice drinks for no-added-sugar options will also help cut down the amount of sugar your kids are having.
More like this
5. Keep fruit and veg handy
Have a fruit bowl in the house so that healthy snacks are always nearby when your children are hungry. Keep ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables, such as chopped carrots, cucumbers, celery and peppers, in the fridge so there are simple snacks available that kids can eat with their fingers.
Take a look at our infographic – 30 easy ways to give kids 5-a-day.
6. Check the label
Many shop-bought food products have 'traffic light' labels, usually on the front of the pack. Choose greens and ambers, and cut down on reds.
Find out more about food labelling.
7. Watch out for the puddings
Chocolate pudding pots can have up to five sugar cubes in one serving. Swap these for tinned fruit (in juice), plain yogurt with fruit or sugar-free jelly.
8. Get inspired
There's plenty of free inspiration to be found online. Head to the Change4Life website for more sugar swap ideas, tips and easy recipes.
More healthy ideas for kids
Have you any top tips to share? How do you encourage your kids to eat well? Share in the comments below…
This article was reviewed on 14th June 2023 by Kerry Torrens, Registered Nutritionist
Orla Hugueniot is the nutritionist for Change4Life, an organisation that aims to help families lead healthier lives by eating well and moving more. Find out more by visiting the Change4Life website.
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