Our family loves going to the movies for family night. If we can’t find anything worth seeing at theatre, we pull out a classic movie at home and get cozy on the couch! If I’m being honest, I secretly hope there is nothing worthwhile playing. I much prefer my oversized couch and pajamas to sticky and crowded movie seats and jeans. Movies or card games and of course snacks are our favorite ways to stay in! Is it possible to enjoy family night without all sugar? Absolutely.
I do my best to keep excess sugar and processed foods out of our home. Pre-packaged cookies, cakes, candy, sugary cereals, ice cream and juice are all FUN FOODS in the Clean Eats kitchen.
FUN FOODS = foods we enjoy occasionally but don’t keep readily available in our home.
I learned as a teen that forbidding certain foods only leads to binging and a cycle of disordered eating. I have no intention of passing this along to my children. We all agree that having a healthy balance of FUN FOODS; makes it easiest for us to only indulge on occasion. So in our home, no food is banned or forbidden, BUT that doesn’t mean we keep these foods on our pantry shelves or stocked in the fridge and freezer.
FUN FOODS are foods we enjoy on special occasions- vacations, birthday parties, date nights and holidays. I have no rules or restrictions here. If my kids are going to a birthday party they have free reign. I hope they enjoy a piece of cake with ice cream to celebrate their friends! I know I do!
Removing FUN FOODS from our home has ensured that my kids, husband and I are only indulging in moderation.
5 tips for reducing sugar in your home
What works for us may not work for you and that’s ok. Do what works best for YOUR family. This is what we have done to help OUR family eat less sugar at home. We aren’t perfect, but we are slowly seeing the benefits of our ways.
- STOP buying FUN FOODS: Instead learn to replace your favorite cakes and cookies with homemade versions using flours like whole wheat, cassava, almond, among others and all natural sugar substitutes like stevia and honey.
- Replace sugary beverages: Sports drinks, juice boxes and even no-sugar-added juice pack in a ton of sugar. Try serving whole fruits and a glass water instead. Or look for delicious naturally-sweetened beverages with zero sugar and zero calories, like our favorite Zevia.
- Eat whole foods in their natural state: This way you know exactly what’s in your food and can ensure there is no added sugar.
- Up your veggie and fruit intake: Five-nine servings of produce per day are recommended for children and adults. Whole fruit and vegetables contain water and fiber, which will help you to feel fuller longer. Full tummies equals less mindless snacking.
- Cook more meals at home: This one is tricky and I understand not always doable but TRY your best. The more you cook, the more control you have over what goes in your family’s bellies. Restaurants often add sugar, salt and fat to enhance the taste of the foods on their menu. These additives aren’t necessary for making food taste good. Instead try using fresh herbs and natural sea salt when preparing meals.
Stop using sugar as a reward
This one deserves its very own section. In short, look for rewards that aren’t food related when your kids accomplish a hefty goal. This not only allows for less sugar consumed but also eliminates confusion. When kids are rewarded with sugar it becomes even more appealing and can teach them to eat without hunger cues.
So often I see sugar being used as a reward. I’ve done it in the past myself. Recently, it has gotten out of control. Just last week my nine-year-old was given Skittles at school for winning a math game, Sour Patch Kids for completing her conditioning chart at gymnastics, cupcakes at a “cupcake wars” church activity and a bag of chewy sticky candy from the orthodontist (this one baffled me) for getting her braces off. ALL THIS FUN FOOD IN SEVEN DAYS. What? Why? AND when did this become the norm?
This pattern along with FUN FOODS at home can lead to kids having a preference for these foods over healthy food. Not to mention cavities, weight gain and spiked blood sugar levels. It is our job as adults, teachers, caregivers and parents to offer them healthier options. Get creative at home. Offer to help supply prize boxes at school or extracurricular activities. I’m not even above sending a friendly email offering to replace these foods with non-food items. Oriental trading and the dollar spot at Target are great for this!
Less sugar doesn’t mean less fun
Just because we made a conscious effort to remove sugar from our home, doesn’t mean we eat vegetables on game night. I mean, I would probably enjoy that, LOL, but my family would most definitely not. There are so many savory snack options available and naturally sweetened beverages and treats!
One of our favorite family night snack combos is a DIY popcorn bar with a side of fruit and Zevia soda! My kids love to dress up their popcorn with lots of delicious savory options and having a soda is special treat!
I love that Zevia beverages are naturally sweetened with stevia, never using artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives, and are made with simple plant-based ingredients like real ginger and citrus oil. Mom win! My favorite flavor right now (and this changes frequently) is Ginger Ale. My kids love Ginger Root Beer and my husband is a big-time fan of Dr. Zevia. With 14 flavors to choose from, you can easily please everyone around the game table!
I like to serve our family night snacks on these divided dinner plates. They work perfect for snack platters and “popcorn kids’ trays”. And the Zevia soda can fits perfectly in the smaller compartment!
How to make a DIY popcorn bar
This has become one of our favorite family traditions! My kids love to help pop the popcorn the “old fashioned” way. Here’s the how-to:
- Pop your favorite popcorn. We like to use this and this.
- Spray hot popped popcorn with coconut oil spray.
- Sprinkle generously with your favorite seasonings.
- Our top picks: everything but the bagel, sour cream and onion, chili lime and white cheddar.
- Finish it up with a sprinkle of real salt and enjoy!
I want to reduce sugar in our home but where do I start?
- Get rid of all sugary and processed foods currently in your pantry, fridge and freezer.
- Learn to read labels and understand sugar lingo. Avoid syrups, artificial sweeteners and anything ending in “ose”.
- Replace white sugar with a natural alternative like stevia.
- Pick one day a week to indulge in your favorite FUN FOODS. Quitting sugar cold turkey will not end in success, all things in moderation.
- Find recipes of your favorite FUN FOODS and recreate them using natural sweeteners.
Create healthy habits, not restrictions.-Unknown
If you’re on the hunt for a soda replacement with natural sweeteners, look no further. Zevia is not only delicious (seriously every flavor is SO good) it’s also non-GMO verified, vegan, kosher and gluten-free. BONUS it’s clear with no added food dyes. Making it not only a better choice, but also safe for my kids to enjoy on the couch! Stock up on your favorite flavors here.
& let family game night commence!!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Zevia. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.