Clean Eating: Is Sugar the white devil??

October 30, 2012

I believe it is.

Sugar is so bad for you; it has been compared to a ‘drug’. After all, consuming it influences the happy chemicals in your brain making you want it more. It is also addicting and absolutely EVERYWHERE in our daily diet. Sugar is not only in candy, cakes and cookies, it can also be found in all our ‘white’ breads, pasta and rice. It is found in fruits, juices, syrups and sodas. It’s simply everywhere.

As a mother, it’s hard to avoid it at times. I add a small amount of syrup to their whole grain waffle or jelly with their peanut butter. There is sugar in packaged juice, granola bars and fruit snacks.

While at the gym today I was conversing with a friend who asked me how I stay in shape as it was hard for him to avoid not eating his children’s foods. He then proceeded to tell me what his children ate! Chicken nuggets, fruit snacks, fries, etc…He complained that if he didn’t give them certain foods, then they wouldn’t eat – after all, he eats a pretty clean diet of chicken breast, fish and vegetables…naturally, that was not their idea of a fun meal.

My response?  I try not to finish their food if they fail to eat everything, but at the same time, if I had to, there isn’t much I give my children that I wouldn’t eat myself. I can count on two fingers how many times I’ve taken them to McDonalds (to play in the structure while I had a meeting) and one finger how many times I’ve taken them out for ice cream. I also don’t give them juice or allow them to eat candy. It’s naturally hard to control things when they attend parties, but overall, I try to monitor their consumption of foods that don’t benefit their brain and body.

It may sound like I’m a mean mom – but I’m not. There is a lot of sweetness found in a pineapple. They get some chocolate if they can find an M&M in the occasional trail mix. I also enjoy to bake banana bread and toffee cookies (especially during Holidays) so they get a small portion of those goodies. I’m also certain their grandmother and aunts give them some sweet stuff (and TV time) when they are with them.  I stopped buying fruit juices or ice cream. I am waiting for my fruit snack supply to diminish.  My family food motto is, “if you don’t like what I’m feeding you, you’re going to starve.”

Habits are made at home.

Therefore, the heads of the household is in control of the family’s habits.

So how do I make my kids eat un-sugary foods?

–          I don’t buy juice, candy, ice cream or sugary cereals

–          I put them in “time out” or make them go to sleep early when they don’t eat their vegetables

–          I try to make foods that are tasty

It’s not easy being a ‘strict sugar momma’ but I know that by doing so I am decreasing their chances of obesity, diabetes, depression and other health-related diseases. I am also regulating their brain hormones, promoting digestion and preventing increased tooth decay. While your toddler doesn’t appear overweight now, know that the unhealthy habits you are creating will eventually take its toll on your child’s body in the future. There are rarely exceptions to the “law of thermodynamics” (calories in versus calories out) – so don’t think you or your child is one of them.

Evidence that sugar is Bad.

In “The Toxic Truth About Sugar” that was published Feb. 1 in the journal Nature, Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis argue that it’s a misnomer to consider sugar just “empty calories.” They write: “There is nothing empty about these calories. A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that fructose can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. A little is not a problem, but a lot kills — slowly.”

In 2003, a report commissioned by two U.N. agencies at the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization was compiled by a panel of 30 international experts. It recommended that sugar not account for more than 10% of a person’s diet. However, the U.S. Sugar Association asserted that other evidence indicates that a quarter of our food and drink intake can safely consist of sugar.

Need more stuff?

Here are 146 reasons why sugar is bad for your health.

Here’s a CBS report about Sugar and Kids.

If I want to lose weight – I cut out sugar, and I instantly lose weight.

If I want to balance my children’s behavior, I monitor their sugar intake and they are more behaved.

So all of this brings me to the big issue of Halloween….

I love to dress up yearly in Halloween costumes. Each year my mom-me fitness group hosts a Halloween party for the kids. Last year (when I was pregnant and had a 1 and 2 year old) we went trick-or-treating for the first time. While I’m not a big fan of candy, I don’t want my children to feel left out from national celebrations.

So what did I do with the candy?

There are a lot of things you can do with it:

–          You can donate it

–          You can use it in your holiday desserts/cookies

–          You can throw it away

So what if your kids complain?

–          If they are young, they won’t miss a thing.

–          If they are older, start teaching them about nutrition

–          Give them five pieces of candy that they can keep (and no, I’m not a big fan of “one candy a day”)

I believe in discipline and education when it comes to children. After all, you really have to imagine how your son or daughter will function as an adult without your guidance and protection. There is no true handbook on how to be a good mother/father, but there are definitely guidelines. We know our children shouldn’t be watching too much TV, playing excessive video games, consuming sugar or fat-laden foods.

But why do we allow them to?

The biggest influencer – and I tell this to all parents I work with through my nonprofit, is the parents. What are YOU doing? How are you eating? You are their role models. You buy the groceries. You set the rules. Setting goals within yourself, your work, your relationship, your kids and your family’s health is an ongoing, challenging commitment. Avoiding the problem will not cut it.

As I close on this LONG entry about sugar my biggest advice to you is:

AVOID SUGAR. As a self-professed sugar lover, I am telling you that consuming sugar makes me bloated, disrupts my digestive system, stimulates weight gain and promotes depression. I always hate myself after consuming excessive amounts. A small amount is fine. A lot is no good.



  • Reply Darja January 5, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    thank you so much for this post.
    I see that my boys of 2 years eat a bit wrong way. That is how the pediatrician taught us, and I had no exprience before. I am taught to give them a dessert or a biscuit, or cheerios after their meal, it was ok, while they were small. But now, they refuse from the vegs, waiting for teh dessert, and I give them, as I am afraid that they will be hungry and will wake up or cry a lot. I have gone the wrong direction. Living in France it is not easy to avoid all those sweet desserts that are orientated for children, for the nation of eating habit- starter, meal, dessert…
    Need to change my motto for sugar.
    Thank you very much, will try to work the right direction.

  • Reply Wayne Moss August 19, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Great post I commend you for the way you are bringing up your children, lets hope when they grow up they can do the same thing for their children and help spread the movement of a more health conscious tomorrow.

    I personally disagree that fruit is bad for you, I think there is a big difference between refined sugar and naturally occurring ones. its refined sugar that acts like a drug in the system, but with fruit it acts as a food and the fiber stops the sugar being released too quickly and causing spikes in blood sugar levels. I have never known of someone that doesn’t eat refined sugar yet eats lots of fruit to be fat and unhealthy.

    For me refined sugar is no different to tobacco or cocaine… a highly addictive substance that destroys your health and happiness. And I believe one day we will look back on the fact we gave this stuff to our children and allowed manufacturers to aim it at them as a great tragedy, but hopefully one we can learn and grow from so the next generations can have vibrant health.

    But as you say whilst the parents are hooked and not willing to face the music they pass on this disease to their off spring. Can you imagine how hooked they must be when they have been fed this stuff from the time they were in the womb, as babies and all through childhood so by the time they reach adulthood they are life long addicts Of course like the tobacco industry the sugar industry will protect its profits at all costs including your children’s lives so it really is up to the individual to turn the tide.

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