How we got on in the family sugar swap challenge

Family sugar swap challenge


For 6 weeks before Christmas  Public Health England partnered up with Netmums and Reading University to deliver a ‘Family Sugar Challenge’. A unique activity that involved 50 families over a six week period. We were one of the chosen families.

For 2 weeks we kept a daily diary of absolutely everything we ate.

This was quite a shock I have to tell you. For a start there was far more rubbish food in our diet than I ever imagined and I ate so much more than everyone else. No wonder I am so overweight!

During the second week I was given a list of sugar swaps so I could do some shopping and prepare for weeks 3 and 4 where we were going to make some changes. The plan was swap the sugar we consumed wherever we could at key points during the day.

The sugar swaps that were relevant to us were..

Swapping sugary drinks…. my kids have fruit juice with each meal. I tried to replace this at least twice a day with water or milk. We did try low or no sugar squash but my husband felt really uncomfortable about the kids having sweeteners. They didn’t like watered down fruit juice so actually water was the biggest hit.  As they are veggie I had always been told fruit juice with a meal was a good way to help iron absorption. I hadn’t really thought through how much sugar they were having. This was quite an easy swap to make in some ways but I wish I could find a no sugar alternative juice that was sweet without sweeteners!

My kids didn’t really complain too much about this swap and in fact they barely noticed and we have maintained it long after the challenge ended.

 Swapping sugary afternoon snacks …rather than a quick biscuit or muffin after school I swapped my kids onto a piece of fruit or rice cakes. There were occasional mumble and grumbles but like with all things they stopped bothering after a bit and again this is a change we have been able to keep up.

 Swapping sugary cereals …swapping sugary cereals for plain cereals did not work too well and even if i gave them plain whole wheat biscuits they weren’t satisfied without heap of sugar on them SO I started to make beans on toast or poached eggs instead. I do let them have sugary cereal still on a weekends. I did not find this a very easy swap and neither did the kids.

poached eggs

So for weeks 3 and 4 we and recorded all our sugar swaps and then for weeks 5 and 6 we could just eat what we wished to and recorded it.

The aim of this activity was to identify how making small, simple swaps throughout the day can make a real impact in reducing the amount of sugar in the diet.

We definitely kept up a lot of our sugar swapping up after the two week trial period had finished and still do now a month or so later. We have kept at it because it is o do-able,just because it made sense to and wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  Really a change 4life.



The  sugar swap campaign is now public and  the idea behind the campaign is to provide support, encouragement and practical advice to help families make simple Sugar Swaps at breakfast lunch, after school tea and supper.

Throughout the campaign, families can register for their free Sugar Swaps packs, which they will receive by snail mail. These packs are filled with hints, tips, recipes and money off vouchers. You can sign up to for yours at  Change4Life

I am so glad we did this. I do feel it has hugely helped the health of my entire family and created some better eating habits.





This study was  in partnership with Netmums and I was compensated for my time in taking part




  1. January 15, 2015 / 12:43 pm

    Very interesting, fortunately neither of mine really like drinking juice so we don’t have too much of a problem. We do have cereals though and it is always at the back of my mind how much sugar is them, but that is about and the occasional sweet or biscuit is about all the sugar they have. I will be popping over for a look at what else we can change.

  2. January 15, 2015 / 12:46 pm

    Really insightful post. Having done this myself I am keen to see how everyone else got on. I found it amazing how much sugar creeps into our diets without you ever realising.

  3. January 15, 2015 / 1:22 pm

    Sounds like you’ve made great progress! Be careful rice cakes as they do have a high GI value, I like babybel or nuts as a mid afternoon snack – you get a good bit of protein/fat in which helps keep you satiated until dinner

  4. January 20, 2015 / 9:53 am

    My youngest daughter prefers milk over any other drink but my eldest does have a sweet tooth (a little like me). I cut sugar out of my diet last year for a week and I realised just how much I have (and crave), so I have been trying to readjust my life and my sugar in take too!

    I will go and have a look at Change4Life, thanks for the link x

  5. January 20, 2015 / 10:56 am

    Really interesting, and going to look into some of these changes for us too – I think I am the most guilty of lurching from sugar high to sugar high – a bad habit left over from the sleepless nights phase!

  6. Polka Dot Family
    January 20, 2015 / 11:19 am

    Having had lots of problems with my iron levels I have been told to drink fruit juice to help absorb iron but never thought about the amount of sugar included within those types of drinks.

  7. Vicky@Acupcakemum
    January 20, 2015 / 12:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing this – I always find it difficult to find drinks without sweeteners for children, some of the drinks are full of things like that, but then again, my boy will not happily drink water if he thinks there is something else there for him.

  8. January 21, 2015 / 7:34 am

    Oh such a good idea to do as a family. Need to try this with my girls!

  9. Mammasaurus
    January 21, 2015 / 9:37 am

    This is fascinating Becky – I can imagine how writing it down is quite a shock when you sit down and tot things up. Good on you for making that positive change x

  10. January 21, 2015 / 10:00 am

    We started this last week, opting for changing after school treats.popcorn with agave syrup and cinnamon is a big hit at the moment.I’ll have to find something else before they too bored of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.