Although it’s tempting to motivate kids with sugar and candy, the truth is that sugar isn’t the best motivator.
While it’s best to avoid refined sugar and processed flour, kids can still enjoy a delicious treat to satisfy those dessert cravings. Here are eight alternatives that kids (and grownups) will enjoy.
Delicious Sugar Alternatives for Sweet Behavior
- Agave: With a lower glycemic index than traditional sugar, this sweet brown liquid can be used in baking as well as a replacement for traditional maple sugar. Less glucose means less opportunity for sugar spikes – excellent news when it comes to avoiding meltdowns and crashes. Agave is dense in concentration, and it’s much sweeter than sugar, so less is needed in baking. NOTE: Agave has a high fructose level, so diabetics should be careful. Too much of it can overload the liver, so use in small amounts.
- Applesauce: Applesauce is a super easy cheat when it comes to baking. Not only will there be a 700% reduction in calories, it’s a sneaky way to give kids extra vitamins and minerals. Unlike agave (where one must use 50 – 75% less liquid than sugar) a simple one-to-one ratio works great. NOTE: Because of its liquid content, be sure to reduce other liquids in the recipe (water/milk) by 25% to compensate.
- Frozen Fruit: Ditch the ice cream and food dyed popsicles and give frozen fruit its due! From frozen grapes to simple smoothies, frozen fruit is a super way to satisfy a sweet tooth.
- Xylitol: Produced from a silver birch tree’s bark, xylitol has forty percent less calories than processed sugar as well as a much smaller fructose content (a score of 7 verses 100 on the fructose scale). Its low number means that it’s a good choice to keep sugar from spiking. With a texture similar to rock salt, Xylitol is also helpful for giving the gut healthy microbes – a real win for kids with candida overgrowth.
- Stevia: As part of the sunflower family, Stevia is about three hundred percent sweeter than processed sugar, and is a natural sweetener. It doesn’t raise glucose levels and has fast become one of the United States most popular sugars. It’s a bit more expensive than regular sugar, but much less is needed in baking. (Plus with good health comes less doctor bills, so many find a bit more investment up front goes a long way.)
- Honey: While stevia and xylitol are amazing healthy alternatives to sugar, honey takes the prize when it comes to sugar that contains vitamins and minerals. Just a few include Vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium and potassium. NOTE: It does have more calories than sugar, but it causes less sugar crashes than traditional sugar – the end result being that kids will get out and play more.
- Date Syrup: With more potassium than a banana, date syrup has a thick consistency just perfect for baking. It has a bit of a caramel taste which gives muffins and cookies a delicious flavor. On a budget? There’s plenty of DIY recipes that can show bakers how to make their own syrup inexpensively and easily.
- Coconut Sugar: With a low score on the glycemic index, kids won’t fall prey to the after school sugar coma. Containing calcium, zinc and potassium, it also has antioxidants that can reduce sickness.
Changing habits are not easy. While kids won’t likely notice the difference between white sugar and applesauce in their favorite muffins, parents have been known to struggle with the new way of living. Going from purchasing Twinkies at the 99 Cent Store to baking from scratch can cost both time and money. Start with using Stevia on cereal instead of white sugar. Put the baking off for a month or two, and then start with baking once/week – perhaps doubling or tripling the recipe for future snacks.
Long Term Thinking – Short Term Results
Cooking healthy takes a big vision, but results can often be seen immediately. From a reduction in anxiety to less meltdowns and more focus, the payoff for swapping out unhealthy sugars for more natural ones can be enormous.
For more on nutrition and child behavior, check out www.drbeurkens.com
Have you used some of these sugar alternatives? Do you have a favorite recipe or tip to share? Let us know in the comments below!