Nine months ago my husband and I decided to remove sugar from our diet. All forms of ‘added’ sugar. We used the Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” 8 week detox plan and we haven’t looked back. We absolutely loved it but early on decided that we wouldn’t impose it on the children – yet. However, by proxy, their sugar intake reduced significantly as we became educated about all the secret hiding places for sugar in our diet. I had previously thought of myself as pretty health savvy, understanding that items such as baked beans or tomato ketchup were quite sugar laden, but not expecting that my vegan sausages or wholemeal bagels also had the dreaded white stuff hiding out in the ingredients lists.
During our detox process and subsequent alteration to our regular diet, we often spoke with the children about what we were doing, and they would ask “Is this sugar free Mummy?” or say “Daddy you can’t have any of this chocolate because it’s not sugar free.” It was great to be able to include the children in our journey, without feeling like we were indoctrinating or imposing something on them. We decided that this was right for us and that we would like to significantly reduce the children’s sugar intake but at that time, we were not necessarily planning on bringing the children fully aboard the sugar-free train. They were observers of our change.
We cut out everything that had ‘sugar’ as an ingredient, processed sugar, sugar, raw sugar, invert sugar (As well as all as a number of other sugar derivatives including dextrose, maltodextrose etc). From our own research we decided that stevia, rice malt syrup and erythritol were acceptable sweeteners for when they are deemed totally necessary.
The children continued to be allowed the occasional treats, such as chocolate or ice cream, that made up a small but resolute portion of their healthy varied diets. During this time we started noticing health benefits for ourselves, both in the way we felt and also looked. We continued to educate ourselves further around the impacts of sugar on our bodies and minds. It became obvious to us that it was imperative to move towards the children having a fully sugar-free diet! We continued to phase sugar out slowly and eventually, after a last hurrah provided by Santa, we turned off the tap! After all, why would we want our most precious family members to be eating poison, oops sugar, when it is something we are not comfortable consuming ourselves?
During this time, my husband and I have also altered other aspects of our diets. I have been a pescatarian for over a decade, eating mainly vegetarian but still consuming fish around once/twice per week, I also have limited dairy due to lactose intolerance – although I used to make exceptions for cheese (who doesn’t love pizza?!) and chocolate to my detriment. My husband was a staunch carnivore who used to hunt and butcher his own meat. In June last year D adopted a vegetarian diet and at Christmas we both moved to a fully plant based/vegan diet.
As with the sugar journey, we didn’t immediately move the children to the same vegan diet however again, by proxy, their diet became vegan ‘adjacent’. Slowly over the next 10-12 weeks, the children have become almost vegan through a process of osmosis. As there are four of them there are some conflicting opinions! The littlest one is on boobie milk so her opinion isn’t currently in the mix, thank goodness! And I won’t lie Quorn ‘chicken’ nuggets have also been a game changer over here.
Our son is an excellent vegan! He loves coconut yogurt, soy milk and tofu – raw! Our eldest daughter is a very good vegan, enjoying the lentil bolognaise as much as the mince meat version, and is happy to have coconut yoghurt although her preference would be for dairy. However the other day my six year old asked me most sincerely if we were ever going to have bacon again *insert awkward face here!*
Our middle daughter would be an excellent raw / fruitarian as the only things she likes to eat come out of the fruit drawer in the fridge – and don’t even think about offering her a plant-based milk or yoghurt alternative, or a sweet potato brownie because that shit will not fly! Early on we had an episode where she literally tipped her vegan bolognaise out on the table because she was expecting the meat version.
We have our ups and downs but overall, three months into their sugar-free life and our vegan journey, we have kids who happily eat a spicy chickpea stew and are ecstatic with two tiny squares of dark chocolate, and I’m happier than a mushroom in shit about it.