Both my daughter and I eat sugar-free.
Recently I’ve found that people are interested in why, and, especially parents of young children, start to look quite thoughtful as they find out more.
Why I’m sugar-free
I’ve been sugar free since going back to work when my daughter was two. I’ve known for years that sugar isn’t great news for my energy levels, and realised that if I was going to function at any level above “Mummy-bot” after a day at work, it would have to be without the white stuff.
How sugar affects Little L
Little L had a sugar free start in life as that’s what happens when your mummy studied naturopathic nutrition. The plan wasn’t to keep her completely sugar free but rather to have it only on high days and holidays.
However, as sugar became a feature of friends’ birthday parties, we started to notice that the sugar comet was leaving a long trail in the way Little L was behaving. About three days’ worth of trail, in fact. Our usually (mostly) delightful three year old became a kicking, spitting, scratching misery who obsessed endlessly about tiny details and refused to try anything new. Normal stuff for any three year old SOME of the time. But when sugary snacks were proffered every day at nursery, it became constant at home. She also simply couldn’t cope with much social interaction with her peers; something her friends found bewildering since they were used to a friendly Little L who was happy to play.
It wasn’t much fun for any of us, but I was also concerned that her development would be affected as she was getting hugely upset and anxious about any changes, even the positive ones that are part of life when you’re three. So…
We cut out sugar completely. What happened?
We decided to try cutting out all refined sugar. Her nursery were generally very good about it, with the odd slip up. Suddenly our lovely girl was back. Yes, there were still “threenager” moments, but they were in context. Her sense of humour returned and flourished along with her curiosity for new things and her sociability. (Unless someone wanted to play with her beloved stuffed bunny. But, again, normal for three.)
She’s currently five and still generally sugar free. Her school have been very supportive, and L also has figured out that things aren’t too much fun after sugar.
Occasionally it slips in there. The effects are a bit less dramatic and shorter lived these days, but I can still tell within an hour of picking her up from school if there’s been a sugary “treat”.
Are you wondering if your child reacts to sugar?
If you’re reading this because you’re wondering if your own child reacts badly to sugar, I’d really encourage experimenting with going sugar free, or at least cutting down for around a fortnight, just to find out how sugar affects your child.
You may notice a difference while they’re not eating it, and you may also notice a contrast when they try it again. This way you can make an informed decision about what level of sugar works for your child. Each child is unique, so there’s no universal solution, but knowledge is power…
For us, the slight hassle of avoiding it completely is easily worth the effort, and I feel very lucky that we were able to pinpoint the cause of these issues.
I’ll be writing more about what worked for us, good sugar alternatives and the logistics of feeding a sugar free child in the near future. Watch this space…