Did you know that sugar is as addictive as cocaine? Or that children consume more sugar daily than adults? I haven’t eaten sugar in over six years. I FINALLY realized that if I had even a little sugar in my system, I would want and EAT more. So, I gave it up. Just like I gave up cigarettes (my college-years rebellion) 14 years ago and caffeine over 12 years ago. Sometimes I wish I could eat a cookie or drink a diet soda to keep me awake instead of actually sleeping, but I am so glad to be sugar-free today.
I had a sugar-free pregnancy, and I have a sugar-free two-year-old. OK, so he’s had sugar a couple of times, like on his first birthday when I made him a smash cake, and a couple other times when someone like Daddy or Grandpa has slipped him a sweet thing. I think because he doesn’t usually eat sugar that he’s probably hyper sensitive to it. He goes crazy when you give him sugar. I mean off-the-wall insane! This is not a good thing. Believe me, he has enough energy without added sugar. I’m guessing most kids do.
I remember being in a Friendly’s while we were on our way home from vacationing in Maine, and seeing a young mom feeding a hot fudge sundae to her maybe nine-month-old son. He had his own sundae! This looked so foreign to me.
I grew up in a house full of sugar. My Dad loved to give us treats, and there was no shortage of them. I lived for Little Debbies (Oatmeal Creams, Star Crunch, Swiss Rolls, Fudge Rounds, Peanut Butter Bars, on and on), Zingers, ice cream, candy bars, M&M’s, whatever. We always had pop (soda to most of the world). I had no idea how sugar effected me, because I had never been without it before. Until 2006 when I gave it up. I actually experienced withdrawal: Headaches, extreme tiredness, mood swings, panic, achiness, and just feeling sick in general. This went on for over a month!
After experiencing withdrawal from sugar, I decided that I never wanted to go through that again! How many people can say that they have EVER gone even one week or one day without sugar? When I tell people that I don’t eat sugar, they often tell me that they don’t eat much sugar either. And they believe it! However, these same people also make daily trips to the Dunkin Donuts drive thru for a large Caramel Mocha Latte.
Here’s where I have to tell you that I also don’t eat flour. Flour is another refined substance that immediately turns to sugar once it enters your bloodstream. So, these same people that don’t eat much sugar might also have a bowl of pasta for lunch and pick up some quick food from a fast food restaurant on the way home (French fries almost always contain added flour and sugar, unless you make them yourself).
Listen, I’m not judging anyone that eats sugar, or that feeds it to their kids. If you’re like I was, and grew up with it, and didn’t realize how much you were eating it or how it is really effecting you, then why would you even give it a second thought? I’m just hoping that you will think about it a little more. Maybe try feeding yourself or your kids food without sugar a little more often.
OK, so here’s where I tell you that I also don’t eat sugar alternatives. No Sweet ‘n Low or Equal or Splenda or Stevia, or any of it. No gum or diet soda or mints. Sugar alternatives can have the same addictive qualities as sugar, plus they can cause additional health issues. Many people, for instance, are highly sensitive to aspartame (commonly found in diet soda). Check out this Google search of “aspartame side effects” if you’d like to learn more.
I can only wonder what you must be thinking by now. No sugar, no flour, no sweeteners? No caffeine? “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” Plenty. And I enjoy every bite. I will go into this more in future posts, but just know that I in no way feel deprived.
The hardest thing so far is keeping my son sugar-free. I’m not so naive as to think that I can keep him free from sugar his entire life. I actually think enjoying an occasional treat can be a healthy thing. However, he’s two! He’s healthy. He’s happy. He doesn’t know any different. The few times he’s had sugar have made him impulsive and cranky and out of sorts.
It’s not hard for me personally, it’s outside influences that make it difficult, including within my own home. Sugar is such a part of our culture. Birthday cake. Halloween candy. Easter, Valentine’s Day, carnivals, festivals, and everyday life. Sugar is everywhere. There is immense pressure to partake and to serve sweets to our kids. Don’t believe me? Try not serving a birthday cake and see what people have to say about it. My guess is, A LOT.
Despite these influences, I’m helping my child to make the healthiest choices possible, at least for now. Once he’s in school there will be new challenges. But for now, he loves his fruit and vegetables and all the healthy food he eats every day.
Above photo is courtesy of StockFreeImages.com
Below is an eye-opening infographic about sugar consumption for adults and kids in the United States (infographic generously provided by www.OnlineNursingPrograms.com).
At what age did you begin giving sugar to your child? What behavior changes do you notice after your child has eaten sweets?