Switch the sugar

Is your family eating more sugar than you think? Look at the labels and find the hidden sugar in your diet.

The Baillargeon family thought they ate reasonably well. But when they took count they realised how much hidden sugar they were eating.

“All of us were really surprised by how much sugar was in our food,” says Nicole Baillargeon.

Parents Nicole and Adrian, and their three kids Jack, 8, Oliver, 5, and Ryan, 3, started looking at what they were eating each day, then as a family they examined the sugar content. One of the things that surprised them was how much sugar is added to foods like bread rolls and flavoured yogurt.

“The kids had bread rolls for lunch and we got out a bread roll and when we checked the label, there were actually the equivalent of five teaspoons of sugar in them. They were surprised and so were we.”

To give the children some perspective, Adrian and Nicole pulled out the scales and measured out the quantity of sugar that was packed into certain products. It gave their children a visual example of how much sugar was in their diets.

“They enjoyed that because they started going to the fridge and saying what about this? What about that? How much sugar is in that?” says Nicole.

As a result, the Baillargeon’s have made lasting changes to what they’re eating as a family.

They now choose cereal that is low in sugar and they’ve switched to unflavoured Greek yogurt, adding fruit or honey as a sweetener.

“They are now much more aware of how much added sugar is in things, and so are we,” says Nicole.

Make it fun

Keen to reduce your family sugar intake? Why not make a game of it to engage the kids?

  • Try the 'sugar switch' game at the supermarket. Challenge the kids to read the labels on their favourite foods and find products with the least sugar.
  • Go on a hidden sugar hunt. Choose three items from your pantry that you don't think contain sugar. You might be surprised to find that there is sugar added to foods that you don't think are sweet.
  • Play a guessing game. Which item has the most sugar? The person who guesses correctly gets a prize.