Recently, I have observed that taking my kids anywhere outside of our house, it seemed that a sugary product of some kind was being presented to us. Maybe my awareness heightened upon reaching a decision to reduce the amount of sugar intake in my children’s diet. As soon as I decided to take on the no added sugar challenge, realization became evident of how much sugar we were actually consuming. It was subtle, small amounts of candies from grocery stores, banks, jars of mints on desks of any office we went to, church coffee table laden with donuts, classrooms full of juice and cookies, not to mention grandparents, vending machines and the list goes on and on. It is exhausting constantly being the sugar cop, and feeling like I have to confiscate the never-ending gestures from the world around me. So what to do about the sugar war?
If I was going to be successful at this ‘sugar war’ I needed a plan of action and a starting point where I could win. I started in my pantry, where I found foods that I thought were ‘healthy,’ in all actuality they were just boxes filled with empty calories. Oh, the joys of explaining to my kids why empty calories do not fuel their bodies properly, why our family is taking on the no sugar challenge and how to still enjoy life with moderation. Sounds easy right? Wrong. If your kids are like mine you wait for the protesting to begin, which escalates to negotiations and then ends with pleas, begging, and notoriously large crocodile tears. My end result of pantry makeover was complete.
My pantry substitutions:
- Refined white sugar to turbinado/cane sugar
- Brown sugar to coconut sugar
- White flour to whole wheat flour
- Unsweetened applesauce can be a great sugar substitute
- Maple syrup is a fantastic sweetener to any recipe
- Regular cereals to sprouted cereals, whole grain, no added sugar
- Chocolate chips to dark chocolate chips or soy lecithin free
- Granola bars without artificial ingredients, dyes or added sugar
- Good-bye anything with red dye, partially hydrogenated oil & corn syrup
A tidbit of wisdom for your pantry makeover is to initiate little steps. Try not to become in an overwhelmed state of mind, and educate yourself as to why you are eliminating these products from your diet. My philosophy is ‘Knowledge is power!’ Creating successful lifelong habits flow from knowing the why behind the reason for action.
Food for thought: Sugar Science the Unsweetened Truth
- The average American consumes 19.5 tsp. of sugar daily
- On average 66 pounds of sugar is added to 1 persons diet, yearly
- The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tsp. of sugar for women, 9 tsp. for men & 3-6 tsp. for children
- Children & Adolescents in America obtain 16% of caloric intake from added sugar
- There are 11 tsp. of sugar in one 12 ounce soda
- Some yogurts contain 7 tsp. added sugar in just 1 serving
Being successful at home is one thing, but taking on the outside world is another. I was not sure I had much of a plan, other than saying ‘no thank you.’ As I pondered how to be creative in all types of situations, it came to me that I needed to do some nutrition teaching with my kids first. The one luxury of being a homeschooling family is I can incorporate any type of interest into the curriculum. So all of us became better acquainted with label reading, gram converting to teaspoons and the process of how sugar really affects the body.
Food for thought: What Happens in Your Body When You Eat Too Much Sugar?
- 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams
- Sugar is disguised in products as fructose or high-fructose corn syrup
- Sugar overloads & damages the liver
- It affects your insulin levels
- Increases metabolic dysfunction, as added weight gain
- Sugar increases your risk of disease
With our new-found knowledge of sugar, I felt more readily prepared to take on all the ‘sugar extras’ that bombarded us from every angle. With a simple explanation to my kids as to the effect of that sugar product being offered, they were much more willing having learned the same knowledge as myself, to accept the dreaded ‘no.’
Most of the time we politely decline the processed sugary foods offered at group gatherings, businesses and children’s’ events. Where it gets tricky is birthday parties, grandparents and our own sweet tooth cravings. One boundary we have applied and with great success is ‘Friday night is ice-cream night.’ They look forward to having a wonderful dish of ice-cream free of any added artificial ingredients, dyes or preservatives.
So you ask me can I really reduce the amount of sugar intake in my family? My answer is yes, I have adopted the ‘everything in moderation’ rule. If one day we get off track and consume too much sugar, then my kids know we will spend a couple of days eating more fruits, veggies & whole grains to balance our bodies again. For us we take on the whole living approach!
Wherever you start, may you have great success with an overall sense of enjoyment for treating the body well!!!
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