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Dessert is canceled - Indefinitely!

Sugary I know I’ve written about my sweet tooth before, and it’s still true:  I love sweets!  But as many of you know, too much of a good thing is not so good.  As parents, we are not only tasked with getting our own diets right, but getting the diets of our little ones right, too.  That AND teaching them good skills about diet choices.  It’s an uphill battle all the way.  Given the choice, I know my boys would have sugary meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  But someone just rained on my sugar-high happy parade, and that someone is named Dr Robert Lustig.

Dr Lustig has collected a mass of evidence that says not only is too much sugar not a good thing, it’s more than likely toxic.  As in:  containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation (according to Merriam Webster). You’ve heard many people talk about the obesity epidemic, and how type II diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent over the last half a century.  Dr Lustig steps this up a notch by using his pediatric and endocrinology background to make a case that sugar (or more specifically, fructose) is not only guilty of causing obesity and diabetes, but that it also can be blamed for the increase in heart disease, hypertension and potentially cancer.  If you have a minute or 90 to spare, you can listen to his talk about the matter on youtube.  That might make you think twice about the extra cookie after lunch, right?

Or, will it? I have heard lots of friends and mamas talk about going “sugar free”. They say the first few days are the hardest, and then they feel much better afterwards. But what’s in the ever after? Still consuming agave syrup and honey and maple syrup? Those all contain high levels of fructose, which is the evil half of sugar, Lustig posits. So how do you deal with cravings for sweet? As Dr Lustig says “when God made the poison, he packaged it with the antidote.” Using sugar cane as an example (It’s a Stick!), sugar comes with fiber. Beets? Apples? Carrots? Full of lovely sweetness AND fiber. So he says eat the whole fruit... and then you get the micronutrients, too. Sounds great, in theory. But what about when the holidays roll around? Easter? Halloween? How do you pass up the opportunity of a yummy cookie from Grand Central? Is going “off sugar” really possible? For me, I think I couldn’t do it. For now, I will stick to my policy of moderation. So maybe dessert isn’t canceled after all. But maybe it will be less frequent...

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I don't think you have to go completely sugar free. I don't. I put regular old white, refined sugar in my coffee. I eat dessert sometimes.

But let me tell you. I am a sugar addict for sure! There are periods in my life where I am clearly eating WAY too much sugar and craving it all the time. That me is different than the regular, sugar-in-moderation me.

And yes, the first several days of ratcheting that down are HARD. I crave sugar all the time, and I am always dying for a handful of chocolate chips or jelly beans, or I cant wait to get the kids in bed so I can eat ice cream. That is not healthy behavior. I know when I'm in it.

But I feel so much better when I get myself off of that constant need for a sugar high. I can see how that leads to diabetes because you're screwing with your blood sugar levels all day long. And Obesity? of course! I eat more when I am being sugar addicted, and generally doing a bit of bingeing, eating past when I'm full, and it is almost always unhealthy food. No good.

I support you in just stopping the candy and dessert eating! You will find yourself a calmer, healthier, more balanced person!

You said it at the end of the post - moderation. I don't do anything more than that. I don't avoid sugar at all neither do I have a dessert after every dinner. It is more like once a week, but not on a regular weekly schedule. Oh, and I do not use any sugar substitutes. They may not cause diabetes, but you hear more and more they may cause a bunch of other problems.

I think I could, I don't crave sweets... but ask me to cut out sodium, forget about it!

Everything in moderation, thats the rule in our house.

Moderation is the key in our house, too. If you totally deny a kid their sweet treats, they will binge at other's homes. Seen it many times. Rather, give your kids good choices and make nothing forbidden.. that way they can work it out when they are older.

Agreed about the forbidden fruit/bingeing at friends' houses. I used to do it myself. :-)

I think it's great that moderation works for some. I do think that for some sugar-addicted people, myself included, especially when dealing with a health issue such as candida overgrowth, moderation really doesn't cut it. For one thing, it's not possible for everyone. In the same way that it doesn't work for alcoholics to drink in moderation, for some sugar addicts there is no middle way. For us, we actually find it easier and more liberating in the long run to be sugar-free (and I'm talking *really* sugar-free - I use only stevia as a sweetener, no dried fruit, no juices).

DD is 1.5 years now, and I think a lot about how to handle food stuff with her. I know my sugar addiction was solidly in place at a very early age - but I also grew up in an environment that restricted "treats". As an unschooling-oriented mama, with severe candida overgrowth and sugar addiction, I'm not sure how to handle my desire to leave my daughter free to make her own choices, and the fact that in my lifelong experience, sugar is a pretty damaging, addictive substance.

Good thing you don't have to have everything figured out beforehand! :-)

I wonder if anyone else is experiencing the extreme sugar sensitivity that my child has. It's perplexing and the doctors haven't been able to explain it. If he has ANY sugars, including fruit, he flips out behaviorally. For a while we were making our own ketchup, sweetened with stevia (which is our usual sweet substitute). Turned out that the amount of natural sugars in the tomato paste were too much for him over a couple weeks of eating a tablespoon or two of it every day. When his behavior started to get worse, we backtracked and figured it out. When we stopped the ketchup, his behavior returned to normal over the course of a few days.

He seems to tolerate xylitol okay. And stevia--we are huge fans. We make our own popsicles and other desserts with it. He sprinkles it on his pancakes in lieu of syrup. It's gradually caught on in our family and we all eat a lot less sweets now.

We've ruled out candida overgrowth. He doesn't have diabetes. He does have celiac disease but I've never heard about a connection between that and this kind of sugar sensitivity. Anyone have ideas or related experiences?

Uh oh. Hopefully that wasn't a thread stopper! ;)

Mamasita - My daughter had very similar reactions to anything with sugar, including high-sugar fruits. She also had lots of food sensitivities. We are on a no-sugar version of the GAPS diet (for us that means no honey and only green apples and blueberries for fruit) and her symptoms have gotten much, much better. GAPS and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet are supposed to be good for Celiacs too so it might be something to look into. Hope this is helpful!

Actually, this isn't quite correct about non-sugar sweeteners: white sugar is half fructose and half glucose, which together makes sucrose. Honey, maple syrup, etc are just glucose, which makes them relatively better for you (in Lustig's account) than sugar (though still fattening). I've started by substituting honey for virtually all white sugar; it's a start!

Here's Lustig on the subject: "White sugar is sucrose, which is half glucose and half fructose (fruit sugar). Although glucose generates an insulin response (and therefore promotes deposition of energy into fat and weight gain right after a meal), fructose is the really bad actor. Fructose is like "alcohol without the buzz." It poisons your liver, and makes it insulin resistant; therefore, your pancreas makes even more insulin to make the liver work properly. This forces energy into fat all the time. Maple syrup and honey are just glucose. While caloric and insulin generating (therefore obesogenic), they don't have fructose to damage the liver and promote insulin resistance. So, although not perfect, they would be better than sucrose." (http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2006/10/7103/spot-dr-lustig-responds)

Sarah - that's interesting - seems that his sources are different than what I read on wikipedia (not the end-all, be-all, I know). Honey shows to be around 38 % fructose, 31% glucose. MAple does seem to fall into the mostly sucrose, and Agave nectar shows to be somewhere between 92 and 58% fructose. I would be curious to see his nutritional sources for Honey, though. I'm sure it varies...

Mamasita and Annie - I wonder if that explains all of my boys' behaviour. Maybe I don't even know what their normal behaviour is? I'd be curious to try the elimination experiment... they may never forgive me, though.

Mamasita and Annie - My son's blood sugar swings strongly in reaction to sugar, fruit and some carbs, especially potatoes. We've cut out sugar and are trying to reduce even "good" carbs like brown rice. It's so hard since he is sensitive to milk and eggs, making the Specific Carbohydrate Diet more challenging.

Has anyone here tried brown rice syrup in place of honey or agave or maple sryp? I started eating that when agave caused me to gain weight. Honey and even maple syrup are not as bad as processed white sugar, but still not great. They still have high glycemic index just like white/processed sugar. Brown rice syrup is waaay better for you and doesn't tast bad either!

I won't cancel dessert since we love to bake as a family but I am mindful of processed food since they all seem to contain hidden sugars, often in huge quantities. As for soda when we purchase it we limit it to the small 100 calorie sized cans and certainly don't drink it every day. We eat no artificial sweeteners since they give me terrible migraines.

About once a year I like to do a 14 day no-sugar (of any sort) 'diet'. I find it resets my clock a little and I don't crave sugar as much when I come off of it. However, sometimes it backfires and after 14 days I eat enough to make up for lost time! On a separate note, does anyone have thoughts on coconut syrup? I have read that it has a low glycemic index but am a little cautious. I would also love to know any resources people know of on non-sugar baking.

My brother gave me a cook book last year called "Clean Food" by Terry Walters. The cookie recipes are great and none of them call for white sugar. Also, it's a great cookbook for gluten free recipes.

I'm glad to hear (well, you know) that we're not alone in this crazy sugar sensitivity thing.

Annie, yes on the GAPS diet. Sort of. We don't eat starchy grains like rice. We eat buckwheat, quinoa and other ancient grains quite a bit in the form of pancakes mostly. We even coat chicken pieces in ancient grains and fry them to make chicken nuggets (getting my child to eat meat--or just about anything--is another thread for another time). We are gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free.

I just got back a hair mineral analysis for my son which suggests that his sensitivity to sugars and starches is based in adrenal burnout which can result from stress or toxins or event nutritional deficiencies caused by the digestive problems (celiac in our case). The analysis also suggests that his sensitivity is so intense as to indicate diabetes (which is weird because he's a skinny kid who gets no sugars in his diet at all). I'm going to explore this some more and follow the protocols. I'll report back if I learn anything more, or if it seems to be helping.

mamasita, what do your kids eat? we are going gluten-free and dairy-free - we are vegetarian - having trouble figuring out what to feed ourselves...

Debie - One of my kids has food allergies, so she is GF, dairy free and egg free. Oh, she is also Nut free. She does eat some meat for protein, but since DH and I are vegetarian, we limit meat consumption to the occasional slices of turkey. her staples:

Protein:
* Tofu - we use it to make mock ricotta for lasagne, breaded tofu "fish sticks", baked, etc etc etc.
* Pumpkin and sunflower seeds - Enjoy life makes great trail mixes
* Quinoa - it's the only grain with a complete protein structure. We use quinoa pasta, and I actually like it better!
* Beans - you can roast chickpeas for a YUMMY and very nutritious snack. Also, pinto, black and kidney are often consumed in our house. Make rice/beans, Amy's vegetarian refried beans are good in a pinch for a fast easy dinner (combine with tostada shells and veggies). Make a white bean spread for dipping.

Breakfast - I have to admit, we usually don't have a lot of time here, so I rely on quick and easy things like Van's waffles in place of toast - served with just a little margarine. I have never intro'd my kids to syrup, so it's not expected. Also, cereals - rice crispies (actually, I think the real ones contain barley, but the Erwhon ones are GF).

Snacks - pea crisps, dried fruit, fresh fruit, GF pretzels with soynut butter, Coconut or soy yogurts (although I actually lean toward coconut because we use so much tofu as it is), veggies, chickpeas (see above).

It was overwhelming for us at first, but now it's easy. Go to the store by yourself and explore when you have a lot of time! I know, easier said than done, but if you can find a few things that work, it's easy to build off of them. Just focus on what you CAN eat, not what you can't.

Hope that helps.

OMG I am so glad none of my family has these issues I don't think I could cope! Good luck to all of you.

@ Debie: Yes, it was overwhelming at first but now we've got it down mostly, and it keeps evolving. Now we can hardly believe what we used to eat.

A sample menu:

Breakfast is a smoothie with coconut kefir (So Delicious) with vitamin C and probiotics in in and sweetened with stevia. Then pancakes made from buckwheat, quinoa, millet and amaranth (we freeze the whole grains and then grind them in the blender--works really well when they are frozen and the buckwheat flour is much more palatable than the darker version that is commonly sold pre-ground--like Bob's Red Mill). We are still struggling to get off all starches at lunch. The favorite is grilled "cheese" sandwiches. But Food Front sells a new locally made GF bread that slices very thin. We use (and are trying to taper off of) rice cheese slices available at New Seasons. They are very starchy. For dinner, we can now get our child to eat chicken by making nuggets (rolling the pieces in the same "ancient grains" mix we use for pancakes--quinoa, amaranth, millet) and frying and serving with "secret sauce"--half veganaise, half organic mustard (unsweetened, Whole Foods brand) sweetened with stevia. Another thing we all like (and even our friends who eat normal food) is sprouted lentil burgers. We make them from the French green lentils.

I wonder if we could start a Facebook group to share recipes and tips (and updates on our kids)?

@ mamasita - yes to the Facebook group! I really like the idea of buckwheat, quinoa, millet and amaranth. My son eats a lot of bacon for breakfast. We have found that he needs the protein, a lot of protein. My kids love meatballs in purchased marinara sauce. I have found myself cooking way more meat than I have in my 11 years of vegetarianism.

thank you kind mama's for the input.

Yes, lets start the facebook page please.. We ideally want to be gluten free, meat free, sugar free, dairy free, soy free - ok with veggies/fruits/grains/nuts/seeds... we eat eggs though because they are not fertile, so won't become chicks if we didn't eat them....

Instead of a FB page, I'd recommend Kids with Food Allergies. They have a huge recipe database that is searchable by allergen. Also, the moms there know more than you can imagine about living day to day with food allergies.

I went to the Kids with Food Allergies site but it seems to require a paid membership and the sample recipes it offers contained all kinds of stuff my child can't eat. So, I created a Facebook page. It's called "Food Sensitive Kids.
I think you can search for it on Facebook and request to join. I must admit, I haven't posted anything yet, so feel free to be the first.

when God made the poison, he packaged it with the antidote.

I am a 20 year old male who has under gone 100 pound weight loss. However, If i eat anything sweet, I cannot stop until I am sick.even after that point I still CRAVE. Even while eating I know that it will lead to this, tell myself not to, and my hands still grab another cookie. I need help. I am worried i will become a diabetic.

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