THE BLOG

Are You a Sugar Mama?

I invite you to evaluate the food you are eating. Remember, you are what you eat!
07/09/2014 04:14pm ET | Updated September 8, 2014
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I'll be honest, I generally like healthy eating, but 10 years ago, when our first child was born, I had not thought much about food, or how we'd feed this person for whom we were now responsible.

My husband, on the other hand, had very definite ideas about what we should (and should not!) feed her. He believed that the food should be of the highest quality, organic wherever possible, focused on whole foods, and be devoid of sugar.

It sounded fine to me, and we were able to afford the food, so I went along with it and still didn't think too much about it.

Our first child was blissfully unaware of most foods that we ate, and didn't really notice when we ate cookies, cake or some other treat. My husband was so adamant about sugar, that we didn't even give her cake at her first birthday.

When she became tuned in enough to recognize that we were eating something that we were not giving her, at first we told her that it "wasn't a baby food" and that satisfied her for a little while. But then, one day, it didn't, and that was the day that I took a vow of solidarity with my daughter. I swore that if she couldn't eat it, I wouldn't eat it in front of her.

And as we learned more and more, we actually ate and served processed/sugary carbs less and less, and reserved sugary foods and foods that turned to sugar quickly (cake, candy, cookies, pasta, breads... essentially all processed foods) for special occasions. This horrified our respective parents, and I distinctly remember about five years ago, my mother discussing with me that she was concerned that our children would be people who binged on sugar because, as parents, we restricted it so assiduously.

Enter the sugar-free diet, which my husband and I both started about four years ago. He and I both cut out sugary and processed foods, and as a result, the kids got it much less. (And as they have gotten older, we have heard about it from them much more! It seems like it's more an issue of exclusion than actually wanting the treat; they don't like it when others get it and they don't!)

Our children range in age from 2 to 10. Obviously, we don't discuss much with the two year old! However, we discuss sugar, carbohydrates and processed foods almost daily in our house, because as they have grown, we have also evolved in our belief systems around food, and believe they should have a deep education about food and the effect it has in their bodies.

But, we are human, too, and will give our kids cake for special occasions. And pay the price, every time. Our 5-year-old seems to be the most affected by it, and has dramatic shifts in his mood, behavior, and is markedly less cooperative.

We've now tracked that every time we give them sweets, the 5-year-old has a meltdown at bedtime.

So we've cut down on the sweets even more. It was really tough explaining to the (then) 4-year-old that if he wanted dessert, he could pick a piece of fruit, but that any dessert had to have grown out of the ground! It took about a month before he "got" that concept.

Recently, we've come to agreement. The kids love ice cream, but are allergic to dairy. I can't stand the sugar, so what do we do? The kids have started to make their own protein shake every night, with protein powder, soy milk and fruits (as well as probiotics and other GI-supporting additives!). They make it in the blender, and make it the consistency of ice cream. We're happy, they're happy, and no meltdowns.

I'll acknowledge that we are probably on the fringe. Certainly our parents think we're crazy! But I recently looked at how much sugar Americans eat, and it's about 42.5 teaspoons a day! We "should" be eating around 10 teaspoons a day.

I invite you to evaluate the food you are eating. Remember, you are what you eat!