Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey…. or not, in our case.
I’m not sure when I became a little more relaxed about my eldest child having access to refined sugar. I imagine it was around the 2.5 year mark. I was heavily pregnant and my two girls were both running around and needing constant entertaining. It became significantly easier for me to grab the pre-made snacks than make my own. It was easier to allow the eldest to have treats when we were at parties, nursery or at playdates than battle with her to refrain her from eating them. It was easier to buy the kid yoghurts at the supermarkets than make my own. It was easier to let her have an ice cream or milkshake at the café so I could sit down and enjoy my coffee.
I certainly wasn’t ignorant to the fact that these products had refined sugar in but I was certainly hopeful that because they were marketed as organic and aimed at children, they’d be healthy for them. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Anyway, it was a slippery slope and one that I didn’t even realise I was on until a few weeks back. Eliza’s behaviour had gotten out of control. She made me cry twice in one week. Yes, a just turned three-year-old brought me to tears. It definitely wasn’t just her, I was also a sleep deprived and hormonal Mum to a five-week-old baby and really was just trying to keep my head above water.
A frantic search on how to curb the threenager behaviour overwhelmed me with advice from reward charts, time out areas, ensuring they get enough sleep. Another site suggested not to change their environment such as introducing a new sibling – a little late for that! But something that also popped up frequently, was the child’s diet and ensuring they weren’t consuming too much refined sugar.
Refined sugars and carbohydrates enter the bloodstream quickly causing a rapid spike in blood sugar level. This is what is often described as a ‘sugar rush’. It can cause children to be hyperactive and aggressive in their behaviour. The child’s body reacts to the spiked blood sugar levels by producing an excessive amount of insulin, which brings the blood sugars back down, often too low, resulting in the child feeling tired and sluggish.
So, three weeks in to my battle with refined sugar, and there has certainly been some slip ups. The grandparents have been visiting. The nursery didn’t quite understand the request. And we attended a birthday party… I’m by no means perfect and Eliza is by no means ‘sugar-free’ but she’s certainly had an overhaul. And here is how we got there:
First step: I stocked up the store cupboard. We spent a bit of money ensuring we’ve got everything we need to bake healthier treats. Cacoa powder, vanilla extract, raw honey, oats, dates, whole-wheat flour, coconut milk, chia seeds and then we bought lots of organic fruit which we’ve placed in the freezer.
Second step: I got organised and now take an hour each Sunday to plan the meals and snacks. That way, regardless of who is on kid feeding duty that day, they know what they can and can’t have.
Third step: I got them involved. As well as fresh fruit and veggies, we’re trialling a new homebaked treat each week. The girls love to make these with me.
Fourth step: I’ve started talking to Eliza about healthy snacks and food. What healthy food does for our bodies.
Fifth step: I’ve got onboard! I will only eat food that I’m happy to share with the kids (whilst they are awake!).
Sixth step: I’ve started trusting my decision. I felt guilty in the first week as I thought I was depriving the children. By the second week, when I really started noticing a happier household, I realised I’m actually just helping them to lead healthier lives and to treat their bodies with respect. By the third week, Eliza has started asking for healthy snacks only!
I’m not full-out banning sugar, I just want to feel in control and manage when they do have it. Keep a look out in our recipes section for some healthy homemade treats and follow us on Instagram to see how we serve up our snacks on organic bamboo bowls and plates with colourful silicone suction bases!