Sweetness makes everyday celebrations seem a little more special, but too much sugar can have a negative effect on health. Sugary snacks can cause unwanted weight gain and tooth decay. Sugar can also be addictive, which means quitting sugar can be hard. This is especially true for children, who can be extra sensitive to the effects of sugar.
The average American eats nearly 66 pounds of added sugar every year, according to the University of California, San Francisco. This works out to about 19.5 teaspoons of sugar every day.
Quitting sugary snacks is really hard, particularly for kids. Stopping suddenly can cause cravings. Many people find it is easier to swap out sugary snacks for healthier ones than it is to quit cold turkey. Here are several delicious sugar-free or low-sugar snacks your family will love.
Snack on This, Not That
Trade sugar-sweetened cereals for a whole grain breakfast food, such as oatmeal or shredded whole grain wheat cereal that do not contain added sugar. Whole grain foods are filling, so they help satisfy your appetite.
Instead of sugar, top the cereal or oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit. Blueberries are especially sweet. Fruit like blueberries also contain fiber, vitamins, and mineral that sugar can never deliver.
Swap out candy for apple slices slathered in almond butter. Kids love it because they can make it themselves. Be sure to purchase sugar-free or low-sugar almond butter, as some brands do add sugar.
Exchange packaged fruit roll-ups with homemade ones. Banana, peanut butter and honey are household favorites.
Opt for dried fruit and nut mixes instead of candy. You can even make your own dried fruit by drying thinly sliced fresh fruit in a food dehydrator. Dried fruit and nut mixes have a long shelf life and are easy to take with you to work, school, or while traveling.
Substitute sugary soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and added-sugar fruit juices with 100 percent fruit juice. Try making homemade fruit spritzers by mixing sparkling water with a small amount of fruit juice. Experiment with agua fresca by adding mint leaves, orange slices or cucumber to water.
Replace some of the sugar you use in cakes, cookies, and muffins with applesauce or mashed cooked sweet potatoes.
Alternate between sugary snacks and sugar-free snacks; do not quit abruptly. Introduce naturally sweet and sugar-free foods slowly to reduce cravings.
Puree a frozen banana in a food processor for a cool and creamy summer dessert. Your family will gladly give up ice cream!
Instead of eating jelly beans or fruit chews, chow down on some fresh strawberries. These delicious little berries are chock full of fiber that regulates the digestive tract. Strawberries also provide vitamin C and antioxidants, so they support the growth and development of body tissue and fight damaging free radicals.
Trade sugary snacks for one of America’s favorite sugar-free snack foods – popcorn! This easy to make, delicious snack also contains fiber and antioxidants.
Sprinkle cinnamon into tea, smoothies, and desserts to sweeten them. A dash of cinnamon excites your taste buds and curbs your cravings for sugar.
Your family will ditch sugary snacks forever once they have tried cinnamon-spiced baked apples. This snack contains no added sugars, so you and your family can snack all you want without the guilt. Baked apples are especially tasty during the cooler autumn months when apples are at peak freshness.
Have you tried gouda cheese on an apple? You’ll never go back to candy bars again.
The next time you want a sweet snack without the added sugar, try topping a whole grain waffle with a teaspoon of low-fat cream cheese and a handful of blueberries.
Freshly baked banana oatmeal walnut cookies are a great after school or after work treat. Simply combine two medium-sized mashed ripe bananas and a cup of uncooked quick oats in a bowl, and then fold in a quarter cup of crushed walnuts. Place tablespoon-sized scoops of the mixture on a baking sheet then bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.
Skip the traditional chocolate pudding! Try mashing together an avocado and a banana; add cocoa powder and low-calorie sweetener to taste. Kids love the taste!
Instead of a boring old shake, go for an extra-frothy berry shake. Simply put fat-free milk, a few teaspoons of sugar-free pudding mix, frozen berries and a few ice cubes in a blender. Blend until frothy. This low-sugar treat is especially satisfying in the summer.
For more information on swapping out sugary snacks, or to learn about the effects sugary snacks have on dental health, consult with the dental health professionals at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry.