Breaking the Sugar Habit

Cutting out sugar is all the rage right now. The “experts” have finally realised that the  low fat high sugar diet, that has been promoted since the 50s, is actually bad for us. Sugar, rather than fat, is the enemy, causing a multitude of health issues, from obesity to diabetes to behavioural problems.

So how do you tackle the sugar beast in your family?

There’s the cold turkey approach of cutting out sugar altogether. I went to a seminar where a doctor talked about his patients’ withdrawal from sugar as having the same symptoms as withdrawal from nicotine and other drugs. The idea of putting myself AND my kids through a sugar withdrawal all at the same time sounds like something out of a horror movie.

The alternative is the small steps approach, phasing it out more slowly. I went for this one.

Step one: no brown sugar on the porridge. This may sound simple. But in our house, sugar on the porridge is a ritual that takes place every morning, and is rather a big deal. As in tantrums if someone doesn’t think they got quite as much as someone else, or if I put it on the wrong part of the porridge. You get the picture.

First morning I told them the brown sugar was going to be mixed with “brain food” (a mix of ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds – providing nutrients for improved brain function, hence the name). I let them sprinkle the mixture of 90% brain food and 10% sugar. This was followed by complaints that they couldn’t taste or see the sugar. But they still ate it. Same process the following morning, same complaints. Day three, no complaints. One week later, no sugar, no complaints. Victory!


The no sugar ice cream recipe I wrote about in this post has been another hit in our house.

And last week I had a go at these biscuits.

Small steps, but it’s so satisfying to set out to achieve something and to actually make progress, particularly when you are at the mercy of preschoolers’ reactions and opinions.

If you’re keen to cut back the sugar, or attack some other small or big thing that isn’t working in your family, I encourage you to give it a go, one small step at a time. Kids don’t cope with change at the best of times, so small incremental changes have far more chance of success than big ones. If you pick just one little thing and succeed, it might just give you the motivation to try that next thing.


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