I know, I have some nerve posting a follow up to a sensitive topic the week of Thanksgiving – Call me gutsy…or stupid…I’ve done a fairly good job at both. But enough about me! Let’s get back to talking about evils of sugar the week of Thanksgiving (mind still reeling? Yeah, me too!)! Anywho, I was asked, by a reader to talk about how we make this low sugar thing work with our kids. My quick answer: they don’t have another option. Ok, that’s trite and I won’t pretend like it doesn’t take work. Let’s face it, it is shoved, yes, shoved in their faces EVERYWHERE: Schools, church, Grandma’s house, their best friend’s house, every event you will ever go to, grocery stores, TV, and don’t even get me started on checkout lines!!! Even my beloved Whole Foods has some sort of chocolate treat at the checkout counter, although it is usually one kind and out of reach of the kids…which I appreciate. So how do kids survive on a low sugar diet?
Of course, the best way is to just not introduce it to them. I’m not even a little bit joking. It can be done. Don’t start them out eating it. That’s what I have done with my youngest. However, I know that most of us are already waist deep in this and are now learning and trying to backpedal. I get that! I was not as strict with my oldest as I have been with the other two; I didn’t know. And that’s ok. This isn’t to guilt you for choices you’ve made up to this point. It’s to give you the information and hopefully arm you with some other options so that you can make informed and better choices in the future.
So here’s what we do: We have talked and continue to talk and educate our kids about what we eat, where it comes from, how it’s made, what’s in it, whether it nourishes our bodies, what junk food it, why we choose to eat mindfully, etc. And they ask questions. We don’t read food labels with them yet. Our oldest is 6 and is probably ready for that, but the others aren’t yet. When we have something sweet, it is usually on the weekend or maybe a special event. Very occasionally, I will make something at home for dessert, but you can bet it will be made with maple syrup, raw honey or coconut palm sugar or we will have fruit for dessert.
Ok, so this is where it’s going to get a little awkward, but here we go: We don’t give carte blanche on fruit and we only occasionally give watered down juice (like 80% water, 20% juice). What?!? Yeah, we’re mean. We have one or two pieces of fruit a day, but juice is mind boggling to me. Have you ever looked at the grams of sugar in a cup of juice? Usually somewhere between 30-40g. It takes around 4 apples to make a cup of juice and yet we wouldn’t sit around and eat 4 apples in one sitting, but we will throw back a cup of juice. Why? Juice has the skin, pulp and henceforth, the fiber removed from it, so it is essentially concentrated sugar. Wait, isn’t fruit sugar ok for you? Not in that amount, friends. I also try to make sure they are getting a good balance of fats and proteins so we aren’t just filling up on carbs and sugar. Eggs are a staple here, avocados go in their smoothies, coconut oil or grass fed butter in their soaked oatmeal, etc. I try to find as many ways as I can to cut back on sugar in recipes and we use an organic liquid stevia (I feel like if I can grow it in my backyard and make it into a tincture like the liquid stevia, it’s pure and safe.) to help with that, but I still try not to make things taste so sweet. I think when you get used to so much sweetness in everything, you want it even more…in everything.
I want to challenge you to take 1 day and simply add up the grams of sugar in yours and/or your child’s diet. Eat what you “normally” eat and see where you land. I think it will really surprise you, even if you don’t eat “sweets.” I think, though it’s really, really hard at first, we have to retrain our taste buds. It really can be done! It’s amazing when you cut out excess sugars how much more you can taste your food and how sweet desserts (or fruit even) will taste to you when you try to eat them. You will be satisfied with so much less and you notice such a difference in the way you feel and likely, in your weight as well.
If you’re looking for recipes, I’m a terrible person to ask – I rarely follow one. I frustrate the life out of my family and friends because I can never give amounts on anything when asked for a recipe – It just has to taste right, people! However, I do have a nice little recipe collection on Pinterest (not my own recipes for previously stated reasons), so “Follow Me” there and pin your little heart out! And dare I say, Happy Thanksgiving!
Written by Amy Pino
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