Let’s ‘swap out’ the sugar instead

This week I discovered something…

I had lunch with four girlfriends and asked them when they started being aware about healthy eating.

We realised that we all started dieting in our teens, and all but two of us had been on some form of ‘health kick’ since.

That is 5 out 5 women all being on health kicks or ‘diets’ before they were 15 years old, and 3 out of 5 being on a diet more often than not.

Frightening, isn’t it?

Proudly supported by ACT Health

Another thing we had in common was that so called health kicks, were far from healthy. In fact, by cutting out some of the five major food groups, some of them deprived us of basic nutrients that our bodies need.

We all agreed we wish we knew then, what we know now – we are at our healthiest when we swap sugary foods such as chocolates for healthier options like fruit or cheese and wholegrain crackers, and this type of eating is not a ‘health kick’, it is a way of living!

What we really needed when we were younger was the ACT Health Good Habits for Life Sugar Swap Challenge to educate us about added sugar. The challenge is for Canberra families with young children to ‘swap out’ sugary drinks, sugary snacks and sugary cereals over a month. You’ll get a free Sugar Swap Starter Pack when you sign up, and access to other tools to help you on your way. Of course, you don’t have to ‘swap out’ all your sugary drinks, snacks and cereals to take part in the challenge, you might just want to try a few small swaps such as:

  • Swapping muesli bars for air popped pop corn
  • Swapping orange fruit drink for cut up orange pieces or low fat milk, or
  • Swapping sugary or chocolate cereal for porridge with low fat milk and banana, or boiled egg with wholegrain toast.

We are average Australian mums. There is nothing that makes us more special than the average parent who tries to do the best thing by their kids, but I walked away from my lunch date wondering if my children would follow similar eating patterns that my friends and I had. The thought of my children growing up thinking they were eating healthy food which probably isn’t all that healthy for them had me a little concerned.

Then it occurred to me… perhaps our children are going to be healthier than our generation.

After all, our children copy the things we do, it’s how they learn. So we need to teach them good habits instead by having good habits ourselves.

They also live in a world where people are starting to know and care more about what foods they put in their mouth and how much physical activity they do, and I would rather my children start out being healthy at a young age so they could be healthy adults too.

Nowadays parents are becoming more informed about what being ‘healthy’ actually looks like, such as swapping sugary breakfast cereals for wheat cereals with fruit and swapping soft drinks for water.

Children today are lucky because they can now learn about what foods and drinks have added sugar in the home, and at school, and in the community.

They are lucky because doing physical activity is easy and second nature when families spend time together being active.

They are lucky because learning about being healthy and actually being healthier can be fun!! The ACT Health Good Habits for Life website has an extensive range of fun activities for the whole family including the Sugar Swap Challenge.

I also realised that we, as parents, are at an advantage too when it comes to teaching our kids about being healthy – all the guess work has been taken out of it. We can now jump online to websites like Good Habits for Life and in seconds get ideas on how to ‘swap out’ the sugar and download the extensive range of resources – quick and healthy recipe ideas for busy parents, fun indoor games for rainy days, tips for reducing screen time etc.

So, while this week I discovered something not so great… I also discovered something inspiring.

Our children are very lucky to be living in such a health-informed world, and we, as parents, have ideas for healthy options for our family laid out on a platter… a healthier platter!

To sign  up for the Sugar Swap Challenge and get your free Sugar Swap Starter Pack visit the Good Habits for Life website.

What are some foods or drinks with added sugar that you would like to swap for healthier alternatives?

In our house we have swapped our afternoon chocolate snack for cut up carrot and cucumber with a humus dip.



About Lauren Jackman (161 Articles)
Lauren Jackman is the author of Canberra Mummy. A self-confessed perfectionist, Lauren writes about the truth about pregnancy and parenting for perfectionist mummies. Lauren is a mum, wife, author, runner and a not a bad cook