Would you serve your children Kool-Aid with sugar or NutraSweet?
My children never drank Kool-Aid as I didn’t ‘t buy it. I also didn’t buy my children sweetened carbonated beverages (soda or pop). Since children usually don’t have their own money or drive a car, I was their food gatekeeper.
Rather than dealing with children begging to buy foods while grocery shopping, empower your children by giving them a sugar value that is acceptable to you. For instance on food labels, 4 grams of added sugars equals 1 teaspoon of sugar an 8 grams of added sugar equals 2 teaspoons of sugar. You may want to set a boundary where your children (if they can read) look at food labels in the store and with your sugar boundary, let them figure out whether or not a food product meets your sugar guidelines. This may assist children in paying attention to what is in packaged foods when they grow up and buy food with their own money.
If you are concerned about sugar versus aspartame, unless your child has diabetes, offer them the sugar-sweetened beverage on special occasions. The sugar content of these powder mixes is about the same as carbonated beverages (9 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce beverage). I am not opposed to occasionally giving children, who are within a normal weight range, sugar-based beverages, fruit drinks or soda. Special occasions, like birthday parties, are those occasions when a sugar-containing beverage is acceptable.
I am concerned about diet conscious adults putting children on their diet. Parents should avoid feeding children “diet” foods. An adequate amount of calories and nutrients should be available to growing children to ensure brain and physical growth.
Why not offer other beverage choices to children? In hot weather, offer double diluted fruit juice with twice the amount of water, just plain cold water is good thirst quenchers or frozen fruit juice cubes instead of popsicles.
Taste preference is something that is learned from birth through the age of six. If sweet foods are offered frequently, a child will be more likely to develop a preference for sweets. Don’t give into children’s pressure to buy a sugar-sweetened beverage either. Children are smart and know the first 9 times they ask, their parent will say no and that the parent will say yes on the 10th time out of frustration. It is important for a parent to be consistent with behavior challenges and your children will learn that no means no. This extends to other out of boundary issues.