I came to the realization recently that I’m definitely a mean mom when it comes to sugar consumption.  I’ve managed to keep my kids on a low sugar diet since infancy, and honestly plan to keep it that way til they head off to build their own nests. 

I didn’t grow up eating much sugar, so the decision to have my kids grow up “unsweetened” was a natural one for me….and then of course I did my new-mama research and discovered how damaging sugar really is and that was that.

Now, to be clear, I’m not the mom who bakes her kids special sugar free treats so that they can take them to birthday parties and special occasions while everyone else bathes in Betty Crocker frosting.

I’m fine with the fact that when they are out of the house they will, as most kids do, eat what their friends are having.  However, when they are with me we cut out sugar as much as possible. 

We still have cookies, and ice cream on occasion…I’m not an ogre!…..but I don’t buy sodas, candy, or anything along those lines. I grew up without eating dessert, so that’s a rare treat at my household as well and, to be honest, the kids rarely complain about it.

For Halloween they pick out 7 pieces of candy from their loot and we donate the rest.  Every day for the following week they can have a piece of candy, and what ends up happening is after day 3 or 4 they forget they have the candy and don’t bother asking for it again. 

Their self-control when it comes to this stuff is pretty damn impressive.  I’ve been asked how I avoided meltdowns when they were little and asked to give up their Halloween candy mountains….well, it was actually really easy! 

I did a little research on the best ways to handle this and discovered the Switch Witch.  She would make an appearance overnight and take the surplus sweets while leaving behind a little trinket or toy in exchange….honestly, this tactic worked like a charm and my kids still wish she existed, ha!

So…why do I keep my kids low-sugar?  Aside from the fact that that’s just how I was raised?  Well….it’s pretty simple. Sugar is bad for you. Very bad….and it’s everywhere. 

No longer just relegated to sweet desserts and treats, it can now be found in pasta sauces, bread, and other seemingly innocuous foods.  This is why it has recently been reported that Americans consume roughly 150 pounds of sugar in any given year.  Surely we’re not just eating Twizzlers to get to that point.

Sugar, especially refined sugar, can lead to inflammation, and can affect blood sugar levels leading to Type 2 Diabetes.  It is attributed to tooth decay, a suppressed immune system, sleep problems, premature aging, weight gain, and robs your bones of essential minerals to name a few problems. 

Sugar basically feeds pathogens….try cutting down on it and see how much less you get sick and how much shorter your illnesses will be.  My kids notice this even among their own friends who are sick week after week and yet are bringing candy and chocolate to school as a snack and drinking sodas. 

Cut down on sugar and you cut down on illness.  Plain and simple.

So, how do you cut down on sugar when it seems to be in everything?  Aside from the obvious of avoiding sugary drinks and treats and saving them for special occasions, the best thing you can do is read labels. 

Opting for foods that contain little to no sugar and steering clear of refined sugars can and will make a huge difference in how you feel and how healthy you and your kids are. Be wary of  the fact that refined sugars are often disguised with different names on ingredient lists such as corn sweetener, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, sucralose, malt sugar, dextrose, lactose, and cane sugar. 

Try to avoid pre-packaged meals and sauces as those tend to have the highest amounts of refined sugars and experiment with simple recipes you can make at home.  The best control we have over what we eat is when we make those foods ourselves. Cutting and adding ingredients to taste and to the benefit of our bodies. 

Opt for using raw honey in recipes rather than sugar to give you a hint of sweetness along with a lot of health benefits.  It doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming, and if you get your kids involved with meal prepping it can actually be fun…and educational…that way they don’t have to be another generation of grown-ups who can’t “adult”.  Double the benefits!

As for artificial sweeteners….avoid them at all costs. They are a virtual chemical storm with a bevy of documented adverse reactions in laboratory animals. Sure, you may not be a rat…but are you willing to risk it?  No thanks. 

Artificial sweeteners, and artificial anything really, are not recognized by our bodies as a food source and cannot be properly metabolized….don’t get me started on what I think about the fact that any  of  that stuff has been ok’d for human consumption and how so much of it has been banned in Europe and Canada yet here we are getting it shoved down our throats stateside. Get me started on this topic and I’ll be out forming the next dietary revolution!

So yeah….I may not win Popular Mom for the fact that my pantry and fridge are devoid of candy, sodas, cupcakes, and pies….but my kids are healthier for it and if they begrudge it a little now they’ll appreciate it a lot later. Like I did. 

Want to know what else going low-sugar did for my kids?  It helped remineralize their teeth.  Yep.  That’s another post for another day….but my son went from a handful of small cavities to just one….all with dietary changes and supplements.  Blew our dentist’s mind…..but I like doing that to people. 

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