I started eliminating sugar from my diet in October 2014, and I would say I am now almost totally refined and natural ‘Sugar Free’. By now, you might imagine, I have managed to also influence my husband, 9 year old daughter and 5 year old son to join me in this new, invigoratingly clean way to live. We all calmly swan healthily about the house, no mood swings or cross words in sight with our new found sugar free zen-like living, happily sitting down to organic lentil based tofu salads as our evening meals.
To say that anyone else in my family is ‘Sugar Free’ would be a massive overstatement. It just hasn’t happened. That’s not to say that they haven’t all made an effort – they have. We all have. The harsh reality is that implementing Sugar Free living is really hard. Personally I have got through it by trial and error and constantly slipping up, usually over a 99 flake from the ice cream van. A couple of hours of pain in my stomach and head would make me vow never to do it again… until the next visit from the dreaded ice cream van but I got there in the end and a year on I now would not be able to eat an ice cream at all.
Sugar free living can be hard to start, but with the correct thought and planning sugar can be dramatically reduced from our everyday lives. Our family is without a doubt eating a lot less sugar than a year ago. Sweets are now a very, very rare occurrence. I cringe if the children are given any at the barbers or at a school event but allow them to eat it as I know it won’t kill them.
I don’t want to be a dragon-mother, never allowing the children anything sweet causing them to idolise something that isn’t good. I have made some substitutions and after some initial complaints these things have become the norm. I never buy sweetened cereal such as Cheerios and Jordan’s crunch any more – in the past I would never have bought them Frosties, Coco Pops or anything similar so luckily haven’t needed to eliminate them.
Instead they eat Shreddies (although I may eliminate that too soon enough), Weetabix, Porridge, Ready Brek and Rice Krispies. I know that these cereals are not the best type of food in terms of carbohydrate content and we do use some honey to sweeten them, but slowly the amount of honey is being reduced and sometimes they will have porridge with just banana and a tiny drizzle of honey… a year ago it would have been a teaspoon of honey and a heaped teaspoon of jam. Or a bowl of Cheerios. A big difference.
In addition, the children will often also eat an egg at breakfast, or after their cereal they will eat some nuts (cashews are my 5 year old’s favourites, my 9 year old prefers brazil nuts). They also eat a lot less jam, Nutella is a very rare treat for weekend mornings when I make crepes for breakfast. Instead they eat peanut butter and cheese more often.
After school snacks can be peanut butter in a wholemeal pitta bread or cheese pieces with veg sticks, maybe even crackers with Philadelphia or a croissant with any cheesy or nut butter filling. Fruit is another favourite.
As time goes on the children will ask for a savoury snack more often than a sweet one, I think their palate is slowly changing just as mine has.
Luckily there are often lower-sugar home made cakes available instead of chocolates and shop-bought cakes at our weekly visit to the grandparent’s house, although this is not always the case. Either way portions have been reduced and that’s an improvement to what has gone before. Grandparents do love to spoil through food though so again I often have to bite my lip and turn a blind eye.
My husband has even shunned dessert at a celebratory meal with friends… and he recently proudly showed me his home-made dessert of yogurt with berries and a sprinkling of granola – proof indeed that my Sugar Free way of life is slowly but surely rubbing off.
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