Three Steps to Help Your Teen Successfully Eat Less Sugar

Is your teen motivated to eat less sugar?

While having your teen decide they want to eat less sugar is amazing, if they don’t have a solid plan, then the likelihood that they will be able to follow through is low. If your teen is eating too much sugar whether it is in drinks, chips, granola bars, protein bars, smoothies or candy, then they are likely stuck in The Chronic Stress Loop and they need help finding a healthy replacement habit that will help them specifically break out of this pattern.

Step 1: Determine the Stressor that Triggers Snacking

What causes your teen to head to the kitchen for a snack?

  • Are they worried about doing well in school or fitting in socially?
  • Are they bored, lonely or tired?
  • Are they eating because they always eat at this time of day?
  • Are they eating a snack because they won’t take the time to eat a proper meal?

The best way to determine the answer to this question is to track the emotion and hunger level when the desire to have a snack arises. By determining the trigger for wanting a snack, your teen will have a better idea of how to break out of this pattern.

Step 2: Pick a Healthy Replacement Habit

Once your teen knows their personal trigger for eating too many snacks, then they need to pick a healthy replacement habit that addresses their trigger.

Let’s say your teen eats a lot of snack food because they won’t take the time to eat a proper meal. Then a new healthy habit they could put into place is meal planning. By taking the time to plan and prepare what they will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then they are more likely to follow through because the easier choice is also the healthiest choice. For ideas on how to help your teen meal plan go here.

Let’s say your teen heads to the kitchen for a snack because they are feeling bored. Help your teen brainstorm a list of activities they enjoy doing, that they can do instead of eating when they are bored. (working on a puzzle, going for a run or hike, taking pictures, shooting hoops, knitting, playing an instrument) Then when the desire to snack to relieve boredom arises, your teen will have a go-to replacement activity that is much healthier. If your teen has long chunks of time with nothing to do, then encourage them to get more involved in their school or community.

Step 3: Quiet the Cravings

While finding a healthy replacement habit to snacking is the key to long-term success, sometimes teens need help to quiet the craving. No matter what triggers your teen’s cravings for their favorite snacks, The Sandwich Technique, a form of The Emotional Freedom Technique, is an amazing tool that can help decrease sugar cravings. If your teen is in public, they can visualize themselves tapping rather than actually tapping on the points.

Step 1: Rate the intensity of the stressor on a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high).

Step 2: Create a Setup Statement. Repeat 3 times while tapping on the karate chop point.

Even though I am really craving __________, I fully and completely accept myself anyway.

Step 3: Tap through the 8 points three times.

Round 1 Phrase: I really want to eat __________.

Round 2 Phrase: Alternate between these two statements.

I am really craving __________.

I choose to relax and release this craving.

Round 3 Phrase: I am relaxed and calm.

Step 4: Check back in with the intensity of the craving. Hopefully, it has decreased and you are feeling more at ease. If not, do another round

Eating less sugar is a great goal, but having the desire to do something is not enough. When stress arises, no matter how much your teen WANTS to eat less sugar, if their default habit to soothe the stressors in their life is sugar, then no amount of willpower will work. Your teen needs to have a clear plan. To learn more about helping your teen break out of The Chronic Stress Loop for good, grab a copy of my FREE Stress Less Guide here.

Originally published at on January 22, 2018.

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