Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Case Against Sugar

I just finished listening to the audiobook The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. I hope my children enjoyed their last cookie yesterday.

Okay, okay. Even though I can and sometimes do employ the strictest no-sugar, nothing-processed diet on myself, I've yet to make it more than a few weeks without a "cheat meal." If it's tough for me to resist the sugary options in this American life of ours, it's nearly impossible for them. I believe with my whole heart the right diet is: mostly vegetables, lots of lean protein, some nuts and fruit. I have always, since they first lifted solid foods to their own mouths, given food to them in this order. By the time they got to the grain option I usually gave them--bread, pasta, rice--they were already full of what I considered the best stuff.

But now they're in school. And sports.

This next chapter of healthful eating involves more sugar than I would like. And it all adds up: popsicles during cross-country practice, a brownie for Sadie's birthday, a cupcake because it's the last math team, a Gatorade handed out by Brody's mom after the basketball game. How do I manage all these sweets?

I'm open to suggestions, so if you've got 'em, please use that comment box below!

I realize I'm not the person who should be listening to The Case Against Sugar. There are millions of Americans who are completely ignorant of how sugary drinks and meals can affect their health. I can't reach them, but I can affect my three children and my husband, who, unfairly, is the only one who is allowed to break the no-juice rule in our house. (Hmm. This one is going to be a toughie.) I think I've got to ban Gatorade, which is something I've said for years that no child or adult needs to drink. And juice...never? Once a month?

However, I think the school is my second step. Dare I become a no-sugar or low-sugar advocate and start a campaign to ban birthday snacks in lieu of a birthday announcement or a special book being read? Dare I become That Parent who suggests all-fruit frozen popsicles rather than the cheap, sugary ones?

A commitment to healthy living is a challenge, but I am hugely committed to my children's growing bodies and healthy habits. But I can't go totally overboard because at some point they're going to have to navigate these choices by themselves...

(to be continued! as I ruminate on this!)


Michelle said...

Yes, the struggle is real for this one. How old are your kiddos? What about teaching them the why? Why we eat sugar in moderation? I don't think anything should be totally banned, but like you, I've learned so much about what sugar does to our health and bodies, and how addictive it is. What if you moved forward on the education side?
And juice - I now only ever drink fresh squeezed OJ, and I could never give it up. It's really the one sweet that I have, and now that I've been better about the sugar intake, it's so so sweet and delicious!

Colin Davitt said...

I like the idea of moderation. Salts are bad, fats, certain meats... I love the idea of having everyone monitor what they are eating and do some analysis.

I totally fall into the trap of telling my kids what they should and shouldn't eat. I can present them with evidence. Then I go out to eat and disregard everything I just said. Or tell them they have to drink something other than what I am drinking (soda, coffee...).

Parenting and making the right decisions are not easy.

travelinma said...

Oh boy, this is a timely post. I was just privy to what my teen was purchasing at the high school for snacks. (We have fruit, nuts, cheese sticks and granola bars at home.) Poptarts and rice krispie treats. Meanwhile she goes to the dentist and I cannot understand what is happening. I sent the principal an email on Wednesday and I have not heard back. It is disheartening because our elementary schools are making efforts to offer healthy alternatives. What teen resists junk? It is our responsibility to provide healthy options.

The K said...

I struggle with this all the time. I'm totally addicted to sugar and I love it. And I know all of the bad things about it! For me, I wasn't allowed processed foods and very limited sugar growing up, so I learned to sneak it and it was used as a reward. So I would say, the best thing for kids is to grow up seeing it used in moderation, being available so they don't feel like binging on it when it is there.

Our school does not allow any treats for birthdays at all. We were told it was related to Michelle Obama's Healthy Kids initiative. We also can't give kids any food at all and they can't share food (due to allergies). On the one hand it is nice that it is not even an issue, but I find so many math activities that would be more memorable with some food (recipes for ratios, breaking up a candy bar for fractions). I think in moderation is the key.