As parents, we want the best for our children, right? We want them to be happy, enjoy life, have good friendships, be fit and healthy and also slot into society. However, there are some contradictions in there. Society makes it difficult for anyone, let alone children, to do anything other than "the norm". But what happens if "the norm" is just not conducive to a fit and healthy life? How do we manage that?
Do we ostracise our own children by making them break "the norm" and stand out? Or do we stay within the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in fear of the repercussions that may occur if we do break these boundaries knowing though that it may not be the healthiest option for our future generation?
But what happens if "the norm" is just not conducive to a fit and healthy life?
I like a challenge. I like to test myself and see what I am capable of both physically and mentally but I never want to force challenges onto my kids. They are their own people with their own minds and I want to educate them, lead by example and allow them to make informed decisions.
So after some discussions, we decided that as a family of four, we are going to give up sugar for the next two weeks. Now is probably an ideal time to introduce changes like this as we aren't able to go anywhere or visit anyone with Covid restrictions, so therefore temptations are going to be massively reduced and societal pressure is not going to be noticeable.
I want to educate them, lead by example and allow them to make informed decisions.
What about natural sugar and sweeteners?
Naturally occurring sugars? I really don't agree with anything that cuts out fruit and veg, so these will be staying firmly on the menu.
Sweeteners? I have an issue with these and they will be the next to go but at the moment we are still having these - although we are far more aware of how present these are in our foods and drinks too. It doesn't sit right with me that we are still consuming sweeteners though, we'd be better off avoiding all foods/drinks with sweeteners in it over ones with sugar in cos least sugar is kinda natural. But we are just seeing what happens over these next two weeks and who knows what the next challenge will be. Maybe we will give all artificial sweeteners a miss next.
I wanted to start somewhere, taking little steps in the right direction before we dive straight in and cut the whole kit and caboodle out. Seeing how willing the kids are to give this a go, avoiding all sugars and sweeteners would have been too much of a leap I think. I want them to be inspired by it and enjoy the changes as much as I do (and so far so good!)
Start somewhere, taking little steps in the right direction
So what happened?
Sunday night I started clearing out the cupboards, fridge and freezer of anything that had added sugar in it. (Dont worry, I wasn't throwing anything away, it was all going on holiday to the garage for the next two weeks at least). I wanted to make it as easy as possible for us all and the best way to do that was remove any temptations. The results were totally SHOCKING though!
I knew that most sauces were likely to have sugar in it, so had totally prepared myself for that one. I also knew that some cereals contained added sugar but was pretty confident that the Rice Crispies and Weetabix lurking in our cupboard would be able to stay - I was wrong! Even those have added sugar!
The cupboards looked so bare afterwards and I was starting to realise just how challenging this was going to be. Many of our go-to items were now on the banned list! And we now had hardly anything available for breakfast!
So I got the bread machine out and set it to bake us a wholewheat loaf allowing the delicious aromas to wake us up first thing Monday morning.
So Monday morning, we were indeed greeted by a fresh loaf of bread, I also made some porridge for the kids. They chose to decorate theirs with cinnamon, raisins and sunflower seeds. Then I sent the kids to school with pasta, fruit, veg sticks, nuts, seeds and some extra dried fruit for their lunches.
Time to hit the supermarket.
Make it easy, remove temptations
Wow, there really is sugar everywhere, I felt like announcing it to the rest of the shop when I found something that had no sugar in it! My main concern was lunches for the kids - most bread, bagels, wraps etc all contain bloomin sugar. They'd also decided to go totally dairy free at the same time as cutting out sugar so their lunches were going to look rather different over these next two weeks.
Luckily I did find tins of baked beans, ketchup and some bagels with no sugar in them. I was delighted to discover that Bear Yoyo's have no added sugar either, so quickly stocked up on those bad boys. Ready Salted Hula Hoops are good to go too and some puffed vegetable crisps too.
In an ideal world there would be no crisps in lunch boxes at all, but like I said, we are starting somewhere.
Vegan ham is ok and trusty old hummus is fine too.
Lunches were sorted.
Thinking outside the box can only be a good thing right?
Cooking from scratch
I love cooking and experimenting with new ingredients and combinations so I am really looking forward to supper times and trying lots of different things - as well as some trusty old staples. I've come to realise that the easiest way to avoid sugar is to just cook everything from scratch. So we've had a shepherds pie (vegan obvs) on Monday. Last night we had Buffalo Cauliflower wings with a delicious dipping sauce from "How Not To Die" cookbook alongside some pitta bread, vegan chicken strips and salad.
Tonight I don't know yet, but I'm thinking it'll be bean based.
It has reignited my love for cooking again and it is encouraging us to think outside the box which can only be a good thing right?
In only three days I have found that my appetite seems much smaller. I seem to be more content with the food I am having and my energy is even more consistent than it was before.
I think the kids seem much the same too. They are tired and ready for bed at bed time yet energised and content during the day. We have not had any spikes in crazy behaviours, whether it is emotional melt downs, anger and frustration or just utter uncontrollable bonkers either which is rather wonderful.
I am really intrigued and excited to see where this takes us next. I will keep you updated as we progress through the next two weeks and fingers crossed things just continue on this happy trajectory.
I am pretty confident that I will be cutting out artificial sweeteners in the very near future, whether I'm going it alone or with my husband and kids too, only time will tell.