I’m a big fan of sugar: muffins, cookies, milk chocolate, and soft, chewy Swedish fish (my fave!). Sweet treats help me get through long days (after sleepless nights with sleepless kids!)—thanks to the instant energy burst the sugar in them gives me. And let’s be honest here: I deserve some sweet treats (which I typically enjoy during a rare quiet moment in our house), after everything I do for my family and kids!
At least that’s how I thought before I had a chance to talk to Manhattan nutritionist Brooke Alpert, co-author of The Sugar Detox, out this month. Brooke—a mom of a four-year-old—is no fan of sugar, as you can imagine!
“Sugar gives you an instant high and you feel great,” she says. “But five minutes later you feel tired again, so you reach for more caffeine or more sugar.” It’s a vicious cycle that I, myself, can attest to. And when you eat plenty of sugar to stay awake, you don’t lose the baby weight as fast and … well, you’re still exhausted at the end of the day anyway.
To cut down on sugar, Brooke offered up these tips (for you and your kids):
Eat more whole grains over white pasta and bread. Whole grains have healthy fiber (which slows down the absorption of sugar in the body…so you don’t get that sugar crash) and good-for-you nutrients.
Make your own yogurt. Mix fresh fruit, and even a bit of honey, into plain yogurt instead of buying fruit-at-the-bottom varieties (which often are chockfull of sugar; be sure to check the labels if you do buy these).
Make your own smoothies—instead of drinking flavored milk. “Just mix in plain yogurt, half a banana, fresh or frozen berries, and milk,” says Brooke, adding that the flavored milks are too full of the sweet stuff.
Cut fruit juice with water. Instead of filling your kids’ sippy cup with straight juice, mix in half water. This cuts down the sugar. And besides, says Brooke, kids should be drinking as much water as they can! This goes for moms, too. Cut out the sweet drinks like soda, sweetened ice tea, and frozen coffee drinks—and opt instead for water or unsweetened tea.
Opt for ice cream over frozen ice desserts. I know when the ice cream truck rolls around with it’s unmistakable jingle in our neighborhood, the kids always line up excitedly to get their treats. But what I didn’t realize (and do now, thanks to Brooke) is those flavored ices (which I typically tell my kids to get) aren’t really any better than good old ice cream! “The fat in ice cream slows down the absorption of sugar,” explains Brooke. “Otherwise, the sugar goes directly into the bloodstream.”
The bottom line is: everything, even sugar, must be eaten in moderation. You never want to make your kids feel like they can’t have treats (e.g. at birthday parties, etc.) once in awhile. But the key is how often they (and you) eat these treats. (If you want more tips, check out Brooke’s book, which is full of great de-sugaring advice for moms…and dads!)
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