I am embarking on a new adventure that is very foreign to me: life without sugar. My son Buddy needs to be sugar-free for a week or two because of a health-related problem (not diabetes). We are attempting a sugar-free lifestyle before we think about medications.
Honestly, I thought we were doing pretty well with limiting the amount of sugar our kids consume. Neither are overweight. In fact, even though Buddy is consistently in the 50th percentile for weight and height, he wears slim size pants. I once asked his doctor about his and she said it’s because kids are bigger these days, so the clothes are made bigger. He is an active kid, and in addition to recess and the general activeness a boy possesses, he also takes TaeKwonDo three days a week and practices daily.
Looking at all of these things, I didn’t worry too much about his sugar consumption. I make sure he eats balanced meals and moderate sugar, but we are far from banning sugar completely. Yet, when the doctor mentioned this, I said “He doesn’t eat that much,” while my husband said “He eats a decent amount.” So we took a look at his regular diet:
Breakfast: Poptart or breakfast bar and a Capri Sun. Not my proudest meal, that’s for sure. I am not a morning person, so we tend to do breakfast on the go. This is the most sugar he eats all day and the biggest area we need to change.
Lunch: Sandwich (usually meat and cheese), yogurt (GoGurt or Trix), fruit snack, fruit Capri Sun. Not too bad, but the yogurt has a lot more sugar than I realized, as does the Capri Sun. Of course, the fruit snacks are basically candy.
Afternoon Snack: Fruit or cheese stick. He eats this at school so it has to be something healthy that he can eat at his desk – no utensils or heating, not too messy.
Dinner: Meat, veggie, grain, milk, candy. I make sure the kids get veggies at dinner, plus protein a grain and dairy. They usually have one piece (or small bag – small as in fun size) of candy.
Drinks: He drinks water throughout the day at school and at home.
Breakfast: Eggs, banana, water or milk. I made a big batch of hard-boiled eggs and shelled it the night before. He can get this when he comes downstairs and also grab a banana and some water or milk.
Lunch: Sandwich (the same as before), yogurt (plain with some fresh fruit), sunflower seeds (sun roasted), fruit and water or milk. We’re eliminating the fruit snacks, sugary yogurt and Capri Sun.
Afternoon snack: Fruit or cheese stick. I’m not making a change here, what he was eating is fine.
Dinner: Meat, veggie/applesauce, grain and milk. We’re eliminating the candy. I’m finding alternatives, such as baked apples, unsweetened apple sauce, etc. for something sweet.
Drinks: He drinks water throughout the day at school and at home. Again, no change here.
You may notice that something rather obvious is missing: peanut butter. Buddy is allergic, further adding to the difficulty in making a change. I can do things like apples with cinnamon, but not with peanut butter. We do have soy butter, but he’s not a big fan. Tonight I made pumpkin butter, which he really liked, and bakes apples, which we all enjoyed. He’s not a fan of raisins, which I’m OK with because they’re fairly sugary, so I substituted with sunflower seeds. I also didn’t use maple syrup, but used honey. I’m trying to get away from the overly produced sugary items and stick to more natural sweets like fruit and honey.
I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for a sugar-free lifestyle (or, hopefully, a less sugary processed lifestyle). As a working mom I’m constantly on the go, so I need easy things that I will stick to. We’re going to try it for a week or two to see if there’s any improvement (four days in we’re seeing some) and then I hope to be able to reintroduce a few things. I’d like for him to be able to have sweets on special occasions such as birthdays cake and Halloween, but I think we’re going to make some things permanent, especially the breakfast routine.
As for the rest of us, we’re lowering our amount of sugar intake. We’re making some of the same changes for our daughter. Sassafras eats breakfast at day care and they make sure to have a healthy, balanced meal, so there’s no need to change there. She’s allergic to dairy (yes, one’s allergic to peanuts and the other to dairy – my life is all kinds of excitement) so she has soy yogurt at lunch. I’m not changing that, since it’s the only kind of yogurt she can have. The main changes we’re making for everyone is dinner and post-dinner. We’re all in this together, and lowering our sugar intake will only help us all.