If kids crave for ice cream and chocolate bars, there is also a part of us that at times long to sip frapuccinos for days on end. And regardless of age, we are all guilty of stealing cookies from the cookie jar. There is just no denying that we have gone so accustomed to having high sugar intakes on a daily basis. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the recommended amount of sugar that individuals consume per day should be no more than 10 teaspoons. But according to a report, many Americans get as much as three times the recommended amount.

This is actually not surprising because many of our family’s well-loved snack items are loaded with “added sugars”. Common examples of food items with added sugars include soda, candy, cookies, cakes, pies, fruit drinks, ice cream, sweetened milk and yogurt, and grain products like sweet rolls. These sugary foods and drinks certainly make it to our weekly grocery list, and because of its convenience, these can easily take the place of healthy snacks. And even more alarming is the fact that too much sugar in the diet can lead to serious health problems such as obesity and diabetes.

If you want to curb your family’s appetite for sweets, here are some ways on how you can tackle the problem:

1.    Take it slowly.
You can never expect your kids to abruptly stop snacking on candy bars and cookies if they are used to doing so. You will set yourself and your family for failure if you cut it down so abruptly. Perhaps it would be best to start slow by cutting back portions or pieces at a time. If your kids can eat five cookies during snack time, try to cut it into half and replace it with fruit instead. If you use too much sugar on your coffee, try to slowly reduce the amount or you may shift to using artificial sweeteners. Just stick to the goal of slowly reducing the sweetness of your drink.

2.    Opt for healthier options.
Learn to substitute common food items at home with healthier alternatives. Swap ready to drink beverages with your own home made tea by using tea bags, lemon and artificial sweeteners. Switch to all-fruit spreads and choose cereals with less than 8 grams of sugar in each serving, or you may give it up altogether by choosing unsweetened ones. If you need to get that sweet taste, there are plenty of sugar substitutes such as Splenda, which can give you the sweetness minus the calories. You could also never go wrong with water, so never grow tired of encouraging your kids to choose water instead of soda and other sugary drinks.

3.    Limit temptations. If you have trouble getting your kids to stop eating ice cream, then don’t stock up on it. It would be difficult for them to avoid sugary snacks if these food items are readily available in your home. Make an effort instead in replacing sugary snacks with single serve, ready to go snacks such as healthy sandwiches.

4.    Rethink about having dessert. Dessert doesn’t have to culminate your every meal. Avoid getting into the trap of conditioning each member of the family to look forward to dessert because in reality, they really don’t need the added sugar in their diet. By having dessert occasionally, or when there is a small celebration in the family, you are definitely making it more special.

5.    Be happy with less.
Sugar is addictive, and your tolerance can go up if you are so used to indulging that sweet tooth.  Plan out meals so that you can at least keep to a minimum the amount of sugar that your family consumes during meals. To indulge that sweet tooth, settle for a reasonable sized portion of your favorite chocolate bar. If you can teach your family to slowly cut back on their sugar intake, they will most likely give up craving for huge batches of sweet treats.

6.    Read the label. A huge percentage of your family’s sugar intake may not come from sweet foods alone. There are actually plenty of food items that aren’t too sweet, but are loaded with sugar, so read the label. Be very careful with foods that contain corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, sucrose, honey, and other kinds of sweeteners. These may not be in the usual “table sugar” form, but it can lead to the same health issues when not consumed in moderation.

7.    Maintain regular meal times.
Having regular meal times ensures that your sugar levels stay balanced thereby preventing cravings and other food binges. If you go without meals for too long, there is a tendency that you will end up consuming more than what you normally do. This unhealthy eating spree can surely add up to your daily sugar intake.

We do get sweet cravings from time to time, but the key to handing these is just moderation. How do you deal with your sweet cravings? Is there a particular sweet treat that you find difficult to resist?