First, I looked online for families with younger kids who had given up sugar. I was surprised at how few I found. There were some tween brothers in the UK who did it for a year (no thank you!) and plenty of adults showing off sugar-free abs on YouTube, but not a lot of families. When looking for sugar-free products, I found that many articles and lists included items low in sugar, but not many which had no added sugar or sugar-substitutes.
After the mixed online results, I focused on the goals I had for my family. The main goal was for all of us---especially my kids--to realize how much sugar and sweeteners we consumed on a regular basis. As part of that goal, I wanted to avoid sugar in places it shouldn't be: bread, sauces, cereals, hiding in our condiments and dressings. We would eat all fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as dried and freeze-dried fruit so long as no sugar was listed in the ingredients.
Ah, that pesky ingredient list. We decided we wouldn't buy anything with "sugar" as an ingredient, even if it was under the "less than 2% of this product consists of" portion of it. I also said no to honey, agave nectar, Stevia, Equal and all of their sugar-replacement brethren. Regardless of where it came from, I wanted to know: could we live without added sweetness or not?
Bread without sugar was the hardest to find. It either had to be Ezekial brand or freshly made bread from our bakery or major grocery stores like Whole Foods. Another tricky area was yogurt. Almost every single yogurt has a ton of sugar in it, even the "healthy" yogurts. I had recently started making my own yogurt (don't be impressed: super-easy InstantPot recipe here) and kept it in the fridge to be mixed with fruit and, of course, honey. Now we'd be trying it sans honey. Woe is me! Would the kids survive?
After figuring this all out, the last food group I had to conquer was the snack foods. More importantly, foods without any allergens so that the kids could take them to school. I had no idea what I was going to find (besides popcorn!) but it was time to for one last shopping trip.