A father and son preparing fruit in the kitchen

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 Change4Life campaign aims to encourage families to eat well and move more. This campaign specifically urges parents to make simple swaps to reduce the amount of sugar their children are eating. Orla Hugueniot, Change4Life’s nutritionist, shares her top tips to get you started.

Advertisement

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 Change4Life ‘Good Choice’ thumbs-up!

Try these healthy porridge recipes – the whole family will love them:

Cinnamon porridge with banana & berries
Porridge with blueberry compote
Baked banana porridge

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 you prepare it. It’s time spent together that will also get your kids thinking about healthier foods.

Find more healthy lunchbox ideas for kids.

3. Swap your after-school snack 

Children can often get hungry after school finishes, so planning and preparation is key. Get into the habit of having some healthier snacks, such as fruit, rice cakes or a fruited tea cake 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.

4. Drink smart

You might be surprised at the amount of sugar in many popular drinks. A can of cola, for example, can contain around 9 cubes of sugar. Water and lower-fat 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.

Learn how much water your child should drink each day and how fizzy drinks affect their health.

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 after school. 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

A woman checking a food label in a supermarket

Most products have ‘traffic light’ labels, usually on the front of the pack. Choose greens and ambers, and cut down on reds. You can also look out for the ‘Good Choice’ badge in store, which will help you find healthier choices.

7. Watch out for the puddings

Chocolate pudding pots can have up to 5 sugar cubes in one serving. Swap these for tinned fruit (in juice), lower-sugar yogurts, lower-sugar custards 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

Healthy food kids will love
The best hidden veg recipes for kids
Top 5 healthy family meals


This article was published on 12th November 2019.

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.

Advertisement

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.