If there is one thing we can change to help the health of our kids, it would be to cut down on sugar. Sugar is not part of a healthy eating plan.

  • Limit juice, soda and processed snacks as they usually have a lot of sugar. Limit white bread and rice as well as pasta. Our bodies use these foods like sugar. 
  • You can still give your child sweets or snacks once in a while. Try not to overdo it or do it every day. Remember, don’t use sugar or any food as a reward. It can set up an unhealthy routine where kids want those foods more.
  • Sugar is everywhere. Remember to read labels all the time. Sugar is in some foods you may not think about. A great example is ketchup, which has a lot of sugar. Try a low-sugar variety. It tastes just as good. Many foods today have low-sugar options.

Sugar substitutes aren’t all the same. There have been concerns in the news about “artificial” or no-calorie sweeteners. Overall, they’re still better than sugar. Artificial sweeteners haven’t been found to have serious negative issues for humans.

A summary of non-sugar sweeteners

Good no-calorie options

  • Splenda® or sucralose is made from sugar. It is a safe choice that has some great baking blends. One problem is that the body doesn’t process it well. Unfortunately, because it leaves our bodies in our urine, it’s been found in the water supply.
  • Equal® or aspartame can be used instead of sugar. There were some concerns that aspartame causes problems in people, but the concerns were found to be wrong by science. 
  • Sorbital is a sweetener that is thought to be safe, but even with small amounts people can have gastrointestinal or GI problems, such as gas, belly pain and diarrhea.
  • Stevia and Truvia® are good options. Stevia is a plant that has been used as a sweetener for many years. Truvia is made with stevia leaves and other items. No studies show any bad problems with them. They’re a little less sweet than sugar. 
  • Sweet-N-Low® or saccharin causes bladder cancer in rats, but not in humans. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, so be careful how much you use.

Natural options

  • Agave is just as bad as sugar, if not worse. It is between 55–97% fructose, more than high fructose corn syrup. 
  • Honey has the same amount of fructose as high fructose corn syrup. In some ways it’s healthier than sugar, but not enough to make a difference. Don’t use it instead of sugar. 
  • Evaporated cane sugar, Sugar In The Raw® and organic sugar are all just as bad as regular sugar.