How Much Sugar Do You Let Your Kids Have?

Updated on May 13, 2010
N.S. asks from Buffalo Grove, IL
13 answers

My 8-year old SD loooooooves sugar. Of course, most kids do! However, too much sugar makes her hyper and sometimes mean and obstinate. I think this is normal?

However, I constantly have to monitor what she eats and I feel like I am telling her "no" all the time! All she wants to drink is pop or juice. We don't have pop in the house and I have told her juice is for breakfast. She wants to eat sugar cereal, oatmeal with sugar, pancakes, waffles with syrup or sausage with sugar for breakfast. We don't have sugar cereal in the house, and if she has oatmeal I allow a little bit of brown sugar with. Pancakes and waffles are for special occasions. I can get her to eat eggs sometimes. If she eats toast she wants honey or jelly on it. SUGAR!! We have many of these things in our house, and even though I'll say "you can have [healthy cereal] or eggs for breakfast, she still asks if she can have one of the sugary breakfasts mentioned above. I get sick of her asking and then I snap, and then I feel bad.

For lunch she begs for juice or pop. She wants peanut butter and JELLY. She wants fruit (just yesterday she ate FOUR mandarin oranges and two bananas for a snack without me knowing).

For dinner she eats only the sugary or sweet part if I allow her to have anything. Tonight she ate a bowl of applesauce and all her noodles and left the meat. Then she begged for juice, chocolate milk and ice cream. Not before bed!! I feel like I can't let her have any sugary thing for dinner because that's all she'll eat. And too much sugar before bed means she won't go to sleep. She begs for dessert (ice cream, candy etc.) I always have to say NO NO NO.

(Of course at Mom's and Grandma's she's allowed to indulge in as much sugar as she wants. What are grandma's for except to pump the kids full of pop and candy? And mom doesn't care.)

I'm not sure how much of this is "normal" kid behavior because I know most all kids love sugar. I know I did and still do! I hide all the candy and cookies in the pantry because if she sees we have them then she begs for them. I stopped buying juice for a while because she'd have such a fit that she couldn't have juice with dinner.

I allow juice with breakfast and one sugary item like a muffin or toast with jelly etc. The rest has to be eggs or oatmeal or something healthy.

I allow a good lunch and if she eats all the good food for lunch she can have dessert in a reasonable portion (3 cookies, 2 scoops of ice cream, some candy, a cupcake, etc.) She can drink water or milk with lunch.

After dinner she can have fruit for dessert IF she ate the good food. She can drink water or milk with dinner. Dessert after dinner is only for special occasions and weekends where she doesn't have to get up for school.

Is this reasonable? Do your kids still beg for sugar all the time? I'm at the point now where I've told her if she ASKS for the sugar when she knows she can't have it then she's just lost the privilege of any sugar that meal.

I've battled with candida, and I recognize some of the signs. However, my husband and ALL of his family think I'm nuts and I think everyone has it who really doesn't. So I've dropped that thinking maybe she's just a normal kid.

What can I do next?

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answers from Tulsa on

Talk to her Pediatrician and tell him how she is craving sugar all the time. She may have a thyroid imbalance.

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answers from Tampa on

I am going to be completely different here, I see nothing wrong with your daughter having the fruit, or pb&j or toast with jelly. If she is having issues, talk to her pedi. We always allow fruit (or veggies) even if they don't eat all their meal as we don't see it as a snack or a treat it is a healthy food option.
Personally, my girls get juice and yes soda on occassion and they aren't warped by it. I had to look up candida and got a general idea, so bear with me here. I think that b/c you have suffered from it you are hypersensitive to the signs of it (not being mean about it) and something that is normal in children (the desire for the fruit/sugar/juice/jelly/etc) you are going to be more active in trying to prevent your daughter from the suffering. Keep in mind you could be going overboard to some degree. I am like that too at times especially with ADHD with my girls and myself.

If you are concerned then talk to your Pedi about it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

water or milk period. no juice. each and every meal, healthy food before "dessert" (meaning applesauce, ice cream, whatever - in fact it might be a better idea to start using fruits as dessert instead of part of the meal). pb and j is not that bad in itself, and you can get the all natural jellies that have less sugar in them. it does sound like she has a LOT of sweets. but why does she keep asking? a "no" should be a "no". so i wonder why she keeps pushing it unless you have been giving in. i guess there could be a deeper issue (there always "could" be), but it just sounds to me like you need to put your food down and get her used to the idea that she eats what you give her, and that's it. you don't need to reason with her, you don't need to argue with her. no. period. and move on. put it out of her reach and she eats what you give her. of course all kids are going to want more more more...but at some point they have to learn what no means. i don't know what candida is so i might be completely off. but lose the sugar.

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answers from Houston on

I think talking to her pediatrician to rule out anything medical is a good place to start but then I think instead of you having to constantly be the one to say no to everything she asks for it's time for her to have a little bit of contol and self-regulation in this. I think she needs a simple chart with how many servings of various foods she is allowed per day. When she eats something from that category she marks it off, when she has hit her limit she is done. If she's allowed one serving a juice per day, she gets to decide when she has it. At the rate you're going, she is going to hit the sugar the first chance she gets when she is out of your sight. She has to learn to make these choices herself and understand appropriate limits.

Unless there is a medical reason to follow strict sugar limits, I do think you might be stressing too much about this. Yes it's good to limit it and it's important to have better options available but I think you're making it even more appealing because you've made it into such a huge deal.

Good luck,

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answers from Chicago on

None. At ALL. It is a big problem and sugar is in everything. My daughters are sleeping better, acting better, and we are all so much healthier (less allergies, colds, etc) since going sugar-free. We don't do any sugar-substitutes either. Be careful with those- they can really damage your liver and most are unnatural. Agave is one of the worst for the liver, but one of the most touted if you are trying to cut sugar.

We cut carbs and fruit too. We keep a little juice in the house, but it is used blended with whole-fat coconut milk or water and not straight. Juice first thing in the morning is worst, because it spikes your blood sugar. It's best to have fruit later in the day and in conjunction with lots of protein to slow it down in the blood-stream.

Don't forget that dairy has sugar too.

If you're worried about Candida, you should definitely do some searching on SCD diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) or GAPS diet. Dump EVERYTHING with sugar from your home and offer lots of good fats (grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, flax and flax oil, fish oil) and lots of protein (easy on the nuts, but grass-fed meats are great, fish, free-range chicken, etc.)

You may want to look at this book:
Breaking the Vicious Cycle
and these websites:

and if you are interested in our journey through all the diets and how we choose what to eat, my blog:

Unfortunately, the things we crave are often the WORST things for us. Have you ever had her tested for diabetes, thyroid, and/or Celiac's? Those are other possibilities too, of course.

We really revamped our diet overnight to be gluten and sugar free and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Both my girls (ages 2, and 9) are experimenting with fresher, whole foods and we really appreciate all the things we CAN eat now. It's put a whole new spin on eating for us and feeling appreciative of farmers, the earth, etc. which was an unexpected side benefit for us.

If you have any questions or just want to chat, send me a message. Also, who wants a "normal" kid? :D And who cares if people think you're crazy? Part of being a mom is sometimes going against the grain because of YOUR specific child's needs. That's being a GOOD mom for YOUR kid.

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answers from Norfolk on

One carbonated beverage a week. My son eats Wheaties and Special K with milk and no sugar. We have a little juice, but he can drink all the water and milk he wants. Dessert is not a daily thing. We have cake for birthdays and pie for holidays (that's not even once a month). We don't buy donuts or Twinkies or candy. I don't even walk down the soda, candy or chips aisles in the supermarket. We have string cheese, celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter, yogurt, apples, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, oranges and bananas for snacks. Sugar is just empty calories and they add up quickly. It leads to obesity, diabetes and cavities. Just keep the junk out of your house and everyone will be that much healthier for it, and your budget for food will be healthier, too.

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answers from Detroit on

there are only 3 nutrients... protein, fat and carbs...

so if she cant eat sugar= carbs.. is she allowed to have all the fat and protein she wants??

I dont see anything wrong with fruit.. yes fruit is sweet it is alsoa natural food.

i think you are having such problems becasue you are too strict on the sugar.. if you dont want her to eat these things dont buy them.. I assume you go tot he grocery.. dont buy the cookies and ice cream..

get sugar free syrup if you think that is healthyier.. I would rahter my kids have real sugar than fake splenda.

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answers from St. Louis on

I do not mind sugar but maybe I'm too lenient? I think that sometimes when you stress NO SUGAR or are very adamant about her not having much, that is going to cause her to want it more. My daughter wants a pudding EVERY day...and I allow her to have one. She gets milk or water but I try to give her 1-2 glasses of V8 Fusion juice because she doesn't get her recommended amount of veggies per day. Why not buy the V8 juice so it's a combination of fruit and veggie juice? And even with that you want water it down.

Maybe she just has a sweet tooth. You can give her sugar free or low sugar jelly and peanut butter. Make sure that she eats her (what you call) good things before she can have the others.

I know that I like to have something sweet each day and why not? As long as she is eating healthy and not sitting in front of the TV doing nothing physical and is brushing her teeth, I do not see the big deal. But my brother and sister in law would differ.

If the sugar affects her ACTIONs or REACTIONs or ATTITUDE, I would take her to the ped to see if maybe there is something medically involved with that.

Good luck!

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answers from New York on

i think that is a lot of sugar.
my kids are almost six they have never had a soda in their life.
i buy freezer chillers (fruit juice) for popsickles. they get those when it's hot and we're outside.
i give them veggie chips (for chips), they also may get sometimes an oreo cookie, that is like maybe once a week though we have weeks without eating them.
truth be told i have noticed if kids have eaten well all day they have no interest in anything.
i always have veggie soup in the house. i usually make it about 3 times a week and out in freezer the leftovers. so when they say can we have a snack i say sure let's eat soup first. after eating soup no one wants a snack.
i sometimes melt some chocolate and let them dip berries in them. i allow that a few times a month. otherwise they don't eat anything else that is unhealthy.
if i don't have it in the house even if they asked for it i can't give in because i don't have it in the house and they know that.
we used to, well my husband used to buy regular chips and then he would give it to them. i put a stop to it so they all now eat veggie chips. i am not against junk food, or sweets, but i don't want those to replace the healthy stuff i have.
oh and yes i admit i give them jello cups and pudding. i don't like it but they love it.
i use honey for their pancakes and creppes.



answers from Augusta on

ok here's the deal
I don't think all those things are bad, and I'm a sugar nazi.
you can buy kids cereals, pancake syrup, soda and juice without sugar in them. You can get just about everything you listed with out sugar it in even the candy and it doesn't taste much different. I buy sugar free or reduced EVERYTHING. I use splenda when I bake.
It all depends on what you stock your pantry with.
My oldest is ADHD and if she gets a cookies worth of sugar she hits the roof. But caffeine calms her down which is why I give her Coke zero, all the caffeine but none of the sugar of regular coke. My 8 yr old does not ask for sugar all the time and she knows what it does to her when she has it. My 5 yr old is another story.
You might want to get her evaluated for ADHD , if it's not treated it can show up like this.

And honey isn't sugar it's honey. It's a natural sweetner and is good for you. Honey can cure all kinds of things the least of them being allergies.



answers from Boise on

no- there is definitely an issue there.

Get the juice out of the house- it is basically soda pop without the phosphoric acid. Fruit has pulp which has a mediating affect on fructose.
fruit is ok. Juice- no.

Use xylitol on oatmeal, etc. It is safe and won't increase blood sugar like regular sugar will..Plus it tastes close to the real thing.

Give her magnesium. She needs it badly, with those kids of cravings- she has a chemical imbalance. Magnesium oil on the skin, and kidcalm- you can find it olline.

ps...every time we give our kid a carb, condiment, or any other food with corn syrup, we are giving ultra- sugar . this stuff does far worse damage than sugar can.

Try to get her to eat the carb on her plate LAST, which will decrease blood sugar spikes- get the protien in there first. 4/5 of the plate should be non carbs.


answers from Cincinnati on

IMO, juice is the no no of all no no's. With all of the other beverage options, juice is last. Buy flavored water if she's really needing the flavor. 1 thing I tend to buy if I'm bringing anything like that in the house is Capri Sun waters.... not the juice kind. They're very tasty, and my kids cannot tell it's water.

We don't buy ice cream, and sweets at the store, but we do go out about 1 time a week to get soft serve ice cream as a treat. When we're at the grocery, or Target, we'll have a package of M&M's after we check out, but it's never in the house.

I think the key could be to not purchase sweets. If there's none to get from the fridge or pantry, then she has no choice. They will mean more to her if she gets a special treat once a week!!! And her body will get use to not having so much!



answers from Sacramento on

Sounds like it might help to talk to her about healthy eating habits rather than simply telling her "no" about each thing she wants. Eating well shouldn't be a punishment and junk shouldn't be a reward... if it's feeling that way perhaps it's time to refocus the way she is feeling/thinking about food.

In terms of treats and sweets... you might try not to use them as a reward (even for eating healthy foods). She should eat her lunch because she's hungry, not because she wants the cupcake waiting for her on the counter.

Beyond that, this might be a good time to crack down on whiney behavior. If you've already said no, she shouldn't ask again. You can explain to her that it is disrespectful to keep asking you and then not engage with her about it anymore. When she asks for soda just say "_______ we drink milk or water with dinner. You know that. Now pour your glass and finish setting the table. (or whatever you want her to do instead of bug you about soda)"

Hope this helps.

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