Here at Practise Glow I’m all about respecting everyone’s uniques bodies. What energises you- makes you feel satisfied – makes you glow- what improves your stamina. And by everyone I mean everyone (kids too of course!).
While some diets have valid nutritional principles at their core, true wellness is about being open, curious and flexible. It’s about ‘shopping’ around for helpful tips and tricks so you can see what works for you.
I’ve tried a whole bunch of fad diets. You name it and I’ve probably done it. I also used to be that person that read everything about the latest nutrition trend and was down with the buzz words. All in all I was one confused person putting immense strain on my body. I cringe at the thought of trusting the opinion of everybody else, but myself.
So I can, hand on my heart, tell you that the confusion, headache and constant ‘search’ for the next diet to help with your weight, improve your child’s attention, improve your mood or energise your child is easier than you think. The key is to stop over thinking.
When I stopped over thinking ‘something’ became crystal clear (excuse the pun!). The ‘something’ that seemed to cause me lots of issues (think acne prone skin, bloating, mood swings, over eating). Funnily enough many diet’s all seem to agree on booting this ‘something’ when trying to achieve better health. That ‘something’ is sugar.
Yes it’s hard. It is damn tasty-and- it’s addictive. But when I started to read the growing evidence about sugar wrecking havoc on our bodies (weight gain, poor attention, reduced stamina, behavioural issues…) I knew the area of nutrition, health and wellness was onto something . When I cut back, looked at alternatives and hung in there, wow did I feel like no other ‘diet’ has made me feel.
Should you or your child explore quitting/ reducing sugar?
Do you or your child get:
+ An energy slump in the afternoon?
+ Crave or need something sweet after meals?
+ Find your mood and behaviour changes after something sweet?
+ Feel bloated after eating something sweet?
+ Find it difficult to eat sweet treats in moderation?
+ Find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight? Loose weight?
I know I used to tick yes to many of the above (if not all..). I knew sugar was making me feel crappy. And crapy just didn’t cut it for me. And I know it doesn’t cut it for you and your child.
So maybe giving sugar the boot is for you? It might be right for your child too! Whatever you decide to do I’ve got your back. Below I have listed my favourite ways to tackle sugar given my 12+ months experience with giving sugar the boot.
1. Ditch or at a minimum reduce the processed foods. I know you are busy and sometimes life calls for the bottled pasta sauce, the bags of chips, or that incredibly delicious flavoured yoghurt that you must have. Furthermore for some parents who have very picky eaters it might not be possible (yet!) to cull their child’s favourite food that just so happens to be processed….I get it. Be gentle and reasonable given your unique situation.
2. Get savvy with the ‘sugar’ lingo. Sugar is given many names: brown sugar, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, honey, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, table sugar. Keep a look out.
3. Read the label. Stick to short ingredient lists and steer clear of products containing ingredients you can’t pronounce or need a scientist to explain.
4. Try a little stevia or rice malt syrup. These are fructose free (fructose being the ‘sugar’ enemy per se). If you need a little more sweetness to entice your child to try something (e.g. healthy smoothie, granola, chocolate cake) then try maple syrup, raw honey, medjool dates (gosh I LOVE these) or fruit.
I want to make a note that yes maple syrup and medjool dates have fructose in them- but let’s be gentle here- not rigid. Significantly cutting down might be for you, quitting for others. Find your ‘happy medium’.
5. Add spices for flavour. Cinnamon is a particularly good one as it helps to stabilise blood sugar. Sprinkle onto yoghurt, in cakes, in smoothies (it’s also great at reducing inflammation- think skin flare ups; digestive troubles; colds).
6. Veer towards berries, kiwi fruit, honeydew melon. Fruit is a great snack option, not to mention quick and easy to pop into a school lunch box. Try to make a simple swap of replacing grapes, apples and bananas (OR simply cut back- again, find your ‘happy medium’) with low fructose options. Oh and try to avoid dried fruit as it is concentrated (albeit natural) sugar.
7. Eat regularly. Eat 3 main meals and 2 snacks to maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent sugar cravings which can lead to bingeing and overeating.
8. Drink water. Try packing a water bottle instead of a fruit juice or a flavoured milk for your child. When at work continue to sip away. Find drinking water hard? You’re not alone. Read here for a list of tips that will get you sipping away.
9. Be aware of low fat foods. Often packed with sugar to make up for flavour loss from the removal of fats.
10. And the best of them all: Always choose whole foods or foods as close to their natural state as possible which have undergone minimal or no processing at all! Simply put: Eat real food
A tip from one of my clients
Try seeing if you and your family can follow some of these tips for a few days, working up to a week. In our house we have (with Sarah’s advice) scheduled ‘Ditch The Box Days’ where my family eats food that simply doesn’t come from a box. On a Sunday we sit around the table at dinner and talk about when this day is going to be. In fact I’m thinking of building it up to two days because my kids actually really enjoy it.
How amazing is that?! What I really love about this as opposed to labelling these days as ‘sugar free days’ is that the emphasis is off sugar. With children and sugar and processed food for that matter, I have found that the more you emphasise these are ‘bad’ the more they want it.
Might ‘Ditch The Box Day’s work for you and your family? Maybe you have another name for these days? I’d love to hear from you!
And please share this with your other mum pals. There are so many children in need of reducing their sugar intake. I can guarantee it will be one of the best pieces of advice many parents can hear to help their children with a variety of different health concerns.