Twelve weeks on the Sugar Smart programme with Kallikids. Are we now a sugar smart family? Well, we’re certainly sugar smart-er!
Well, it was week 11 which called for our reflection. How have we managed? What have we learned?
Let me summarise what we have done as part of the programme, in order to help reflect on what we’ve learned:
– we were simply counting, and learning. How much sugar did we consume, where was that sugar coming from, and what type of sugar was it – from fruits or from processed foods, or sugary drinks and snacks? We found that our drinks weren’t too bad, but were surprised by the amount of sugar in processed foods, and especially in savoury foods. We really didn’t expect that! We also realised we probably don’t have enough fruit as snacks.
saw us looking at our drinks, and performing some interesting experiments! You can see the full psot we did here, but as previously mentioned, we aren’t too bad as a family where drinks are concerned. Our children don’t have fizzy drinks, just squash which is sugar free. I only drink diet coke as a ‘naughty’ choice, and we don’t have sugar in tea or coffee. So we found this week relatively easy. The boys also really enjoyed making smoothies, and want to do this much more often, which is brilliant.
– we bought at least 5 products which we hadn’t bought before, which were low sugar alternatives. Kallikids also provided us with several boxes full of product samples from companies keen to help us try low sugar or no added sugar alternatives. Again we wrote about this, as it was really interesting for us. I’d happily swap out our foods for lower sugar alternatives, cost permitting.
– This week was about spreading the word and getting other people’s advice. There were lots of great tips shared about reducing sugar in our diets, and it was also really interesting to see just how many people were keen to reduce their sugar intake, and in particular, that of their kids.
– we had fun creating low sugar cakes for ourselves. It was a little difficult as it was right before we moved house, so we had to dig around for equipment and ingredients we hadn’t yet packed! When we have more time though, this is something I’d like to do more of. You have far more control over what you consume when you make it yourself. Many recipe can have the amount of sugar they require reduced, and there are plenty of low-sugar recipes available too.
was another counting week. It was interesting to see how much our habits had changed already. It was a difficult week for us due to moving house as well as it being over Easter, so we did hit the chocolate a bit! We did think that we’d reduced the amount of sugar in our meals and snacks overall though. A number of savoury things with sugar in had reduced in particular.
was about eating low sugar alternatives for breakfast. Not just seeking out lower sugar cereal options, but trying completely different things. This was a tough week for us as we’re not great at breakfast time, and are always in a hurry on a morning. I also like the idea of the kids having cereal for the nutritional benefits of both the cereal and milk, so was concerned about Toby’s new found love of toast and (sugar free) chocolate spread as I didn’t feel it had the same nutritional benefits. I was happy with the porridge and fruit options though. If the boys would try more egg-based breakfast options, that would have been another good alternative.
– this was about reading the labels! Going beyond the marketing and really concentrating on what is in the products we buy, especially those we may perceive as ‘healthy’. Hugo was very keen on this task (and very good at it!). We’re hoping this has switched him on for the future. We got sprung by an employee when trying to make a video in a supermarket (!), but managed to have a good look at yoghurts, cereal bars and kids’ drinks in particular. I’d urge everyone to look much more closely at these labels in the future!
– snacks! This was an important week for us, as this is our big downfall. We have been really good at avoiding convenience foods and cooking our main meals from scratch, but it’s the quick-fix things like the afore-mentioned cereal bars and yoghurts, things which we previously thought of as healthy, which we found much higher in sugar. As I’ve been quite poorly since the house move, I wasn’t really up to baking, although I did collect some recipes for later use. Paul shopped for rice cakes and popcorn, but we still had to watch the sugar content in them. They may have been lower, which is good, but there was still some sugar in most of them. Dried fruits and fruit & nut snacks went down really well.
– we had to try at least one sugar-free day! Luckily, Kallikids made it easier for us with some more product samples, so myself and the kids managed a day with sugar free (and gluten free) cereal, plus fruits and omelette at lunch time, and pasta with sugar free sauce for tea. It took some persuading to get the boys away from the cereal bars and crisps, and to stick to fruits. I don’t think we could keep this up every day though. Most days they have a dessert with school dinner, and they really want other alternatives to fruit as snacks sometimes too. Sunday saw us make another attempt, with Dad’s gorgeous blueberry pancakes, and a big Sunday roast dinner which meant that we didn’t need much else to eat, although the kids had a suppertime snack (I think it was teacake?), so we slipped a bit! Having plenty of sugar-free products is a big help. As an alternative, making fresh and freezing meals and snacks would be a good idea.
We’ve also been encouraging the children to have more savoury snacks such as cheese and crackers, pretzels etc. It’s all about changing the whole way they eat, rather than just substituting with sugar-free alternatives all the time, as they will otherwise just revert back if there are no low-sugar alternatives. I must admit, as a busy family who has to be careful with the budget, keeping up some of the health foods may be difficult, depending on cost. If they were affordable though, I’d definitely keep going with many of the products we tried.
I guess much of the changes and substitutions depend on why you are attempting to be sugar smart. Are you reducing sugar because of the risk of tooth decay, for weight/calorie related reasons, or as an overall healthy lifestyle change? This may make a difference to which products you try or switch. For example, you may not want to replace sugary snacks with cheese if you are looking to reduce your calorie intake. And you may not want to use products with artificial sweeteners for your children if you are making healthy lifestyle changes. You may also want to look out for salt and fat levels in other product alternatives, eg savoury snacks may be lower in sugar but much higher in salt.
So, this is week 11’s reflection. The kids want to make a video too, but since I’ve been unwell I’ve been avoiding that as I look (and feel!) so awful! We’re hoping to do that tomorrow though, so we’ll add it in here.
Now we’re in week 12, and it’s a final counting of our sugar content again. Watch this space to see if we’ve improved!
Now over to you – would you like to be more sugar smart? Have any of our tips helped you? Or do you have any of your own to share? We’d love to hear from you!
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