02 April 2009

Serve sugar in packets to control portions and increase kids' awareness

Douglas shares a great tip for teaching kids about the relationship of sugar to sweetness while at the same time controlling how much sugar they dump on top of their cereal:

(From an anonymous friend, paraphrased):

We swore off sugar-based cereals and cereals with marshmallows or other nonsense. "No sweety, that's not cereal. That's candy." This is fine, as the kids actually like Grapenuts, Cheerios, and even plain oatmeal. They do find them a bit bland however. And their freedom to dump sugar onto their cereal was becoming a dangerous condition.

So, instead of keeping a sugar shaker or a sugar bowl on the table, we now keep small sugar packets (in the cupboard!). Each kid gets one sugar packet with their breakfast, and they can use it however they want. BTW: these are pretty small packets. They come in a variety of sizes, if you hunt.

This leads to endless analysis, the occasional sugar hoarding, and the determination by one child that Life cereal was "actually sweet enough, so I use my sugar packet for lunch sauce [applesauce]." Interestingly, they now really like to microwave their Grapenuts, convinced that it somehow makes them sweeter. The little scientists might be on to something...

Side Note: On their birthdays, they are allowed to choose a box of whatever cereal they want. Because candy for breakfast on your birthday is a basic human right.

Ha! I grew up putting raisins and sugar on my Cheerios, but my kids have never gotten in the habit of doing so -- we don't have a sugar bowl on the table. In fact, encouraging them to sweeten cereal with dried fruit is a great way to avoid the simple sugar.

Related: Wean kids off sugary breakfast cereal by mixing it with the unsweetened version

Your comments

Hey, I love the dried fruit addition to the tip. Thanks! I'll spread it.

Oh, it makes me happy to hear that someone else does the sugar cereals as a breakfast treat. :) Our family always did this, and all the siblings had to wait until the birthday boy or girl opened it to have any. Oh, cinnamon toast crunch!!

If our son really wants a sugary cereal, we'll buy it and serve it as a dessert. We are hoping that way he'll learn that these types of cereals are not part of a healthy meal. And he won't feel like he's missing out on anything.

The dried fruit trick is a great one - we throw a (small) handful into our daughter's oatmeal every day.

When we were kids my mom allowed us to pick one small box of sugar cereal each, and then bought a giant box of Cheerios. When the sugar cereal was gone, we had to eat the Cheerios. It worked well - we often 'saved' the sugar cereal for Saturday cartoons!

Another idea for sugar is to put it in a salt shaker. Comes out much more slowly and kids think they put a lot more on than they actually did!

I am so, so lucky that my son has never been one for sugar on cereal. He even has his porridge (I think you lot call that oatmeal) plain. But then he's three and a half and his favourite foods are broccoli and tomatoes, so ask me again once peer pressure kicks in. ;)

You gotta try Multi-grain Cheerios. I love the stuff. It comes in a purple-and-white box. It's just a touch sweeter than the yellow-box cheerios, but not so sugary-sweet like the Honey Nut Cheerios. Best part is (aside from the fact that it's nut-free) the nutritional info. Where else can you get all this fiber, 100%s on its report card, and still taste good enough for me, my sugar-cereal-loving husband, and my two kids, ages 3 and 5? Try it. You'll like it. Just like green eggs and ham. Trust me.

You gotta try Multi-grain Cheerios. I love the stuff. It comes in a purple-and-white box. It's just a touch sweeter than the yellow-box cheerios, but not so sugary-sweet like the Honey Nut Cheerios. Best part is (aside from the fact that it's nut-free) the nutritional info. Where else can you get all this fiber, 100%s on its report card, and still taste good enough for me, my sugar-cereal-loving husband, and my two kids, ages 3 and 5? Try it. You'll like it. Just like green eggs and ham. Trust me.

I can't stand soggy cereal, so I eat it dry. My 3 yr old is getting into the same habit. We give him a mixture of plain Cheerios, Kix, a few of my Quaker Oat Squares, raisins, etc. He loves it. Once in a while Grandma brings a single-serving box of Lucky Charms, but that is given as a snack, never as breakfast. I'm hoping that it never even occurs to my kids to put sugar on their cereal.

yup-- I think it's the microwaving the milk that does it. It is sweeter.
I'm a sucker for bananas on my cheerios...

My kids don't even know that putting sugar on their cereal is an option. We keep the sugar bowl in the cabinet and they eat their cereal plain, and they have never complained.

I never liked the sweet cereals growing up. My favorite was corn flakes. I do like corn pops, but I don't consider it a cereal, it's more like caramel corn without the popcorn husk bits. Of course, I also think the whole milk on cereal thing is crazy.

I'll never forget one summer we took a road trip with my grandparents and for some reason what they brought for snacks was fruit loops. Ew! I never liked fruit loops but after that I definitely never wanted any again.

I can't see why cereal has to be sugary sweet. I always have it with fresh fruit (banana or apple are quick to slice), a few nuts (sunflower seeds, hazelnuts or almonds) and sometimes with yoghurt. If the natural yoghurt is too sour, a small spoon of honey helps. :-)

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