6 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Sugar


6 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Sugar


March is National Nutrition Month, and at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital we want to help you and your child better understand how sweetened drinks can negatively affect their bodies. According to 5210+10, a pediatric obesity prevention program supported locally by Kohl’s Cares, children should drink zero sweetened drinks, and try water as their drink of choice.

Many parents make a conscious effort to keep their kitchens free from excess sugar found in many children’s foods. They steer clear of cookies, candies and other junk foods, replacing them with healthier snack options. But what about those juice boxes, sports drinks and diet sodas that are so popular? “Be mindful of diet sodas and zero calorie drinks because some people tend to overeat because they feel these allow to eat larger portions,” says Patrice J. Tyson, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

Helping your child understand why sweetened drinks aren’t healthy is an important lesson to teach when it comes to learning about their overall health.

Here’s how:

  1. Make it fun.
    Have your child help prep fruits to infuse in their water. Show them all of their options and have them tell you what they like and don’t like.
  2. Be patient.
    Don’t just say no. It’s easier as an adult to understand how nutrition affects our health. Be patient in explaining this process.
  3. Share the truth.
    Show your child just how much sugar is in different types of drinks by measuring it out. Visual cues will help them understand just how much is going into their drink. A serving should have 10 grams or less of sugar. Dr. Tyson reminds us, “There are 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon. You can look at the sugar grams and divide by 4. Take that number and measure out the number of teaspoons to see how much sugar you are drinking. The limit should be 2.5 teaspoons per serving for everyone. But watch out because some drinks have 2 servings per bottle!” 
  4. Don’t scare them.
    Don’t tell them a monster will eat them if they have sugar. Sometimes it’s easy to want to scare children into making the right choices, when it’s better to just be honest.
  5. Plan ahead.
    Teach them the importance of planning ahead. Sit down and plan out the week’s activities – school, soccer practice, dance, etc. Knowing they’ll need an extra boost of fluids around those times will help you and your child prepare.
  6. Ask questions.
    Ask about snack time at school, breaks during practice or meals at friends’ houses. This gives you a better idea of the nutrition support your child is getting outside of your home.

For more about 5210+10 and zero-sweetened drinks, click here. Or to find out more about other healthy options for your kids, check out our latest articles about Healthy Sleep, Staying Active and Heart-Healthy Recipes.