Raising a Child Without Sugar: Breaking the Sugar Addiction
Parents often use treats in the form of candy as rewards to toddlers and children for good behavior or accomplishments such as using the potty. It seems everywhere we turn, sugar is being marketed to children. Every sugar-coated holiday (Trick-or-treating, chocolate bunnies, birthday cake) creates more obsessed sugar monsters. Obviously our society has a huge sugar addiction problem. So is it crazy to think we can raise our children without sugar?
Take two-and-a-half-year-old cutie Grace Cooper, who’s been raised sugar-free. Her mom, Shan, has made a conscious decision to follow the Paleo diet. Refined sugar, grains, dairy, and processed foods have been compltely omitted from Grace’s diet.[1,2]
Grace’s Paleo Diet
What is a typical meal for Grace? For breakfast: eggs in coconut oil, roasted sweet potato, carrots, potatoes and steamed broccoli, a quarter of an avocado, and a spoonful of sauerkraut. Dinner may consist of organic chicken and a plate of vegetables. This sounds like delicious fare for anyone!
Even though Grace is often around children when they are sick, her mother reports that she has only had one cold. So, this diet seems to be working for Grace’s immune system. You can follow Shan on instagram where she shares updates about her lifestyle, like this adorable picture of the mother-daughter duo:
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We got matching @peteralexanderofficial pj’s for my birthday and I’m not even sorry for all this spam. There’s not much I love more than being #matchymatchy with my mini 👱🏻♀️👧🏼 💖 . . . #samesame #twinning #graceandme
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Shan, has admitted that when her daughter is older that she will not force a strict diet on her. Rather she will continue to guide her and allow Grace to make decisions about her own diet. But Grace has had a great start to healthy clean eating. How does Grace’s diet differ from other babies and toddlers?
The Typical Baby & Toddler Diet
Pesticides found in baby food
Rice is usually the first solid food fed to babies. But if you’ve been made aware of the pesticide use in our food crops these days that is a scary fact. Lab tests commissioned by The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found sixteen pesticides in 8 brand-name baby foods made by the three major manufacturers. 
If the chemicals, lead, and fluoride found in baby food aren’t enough to put you off, let’s throw in preservatives, sugar, and sodium for good measure.
High quantities of sugar and sodium
A baby’s developing taste buds are sensitive, and there are many foods which are naturally sweet. It’s completely unnecessary to add refined sugar to these foods. However, go into your grocery store and look at the nutrition labels of baby food and that’s exactly what you’ll find. Jarred baby foods high in sugar and sodium and low in fiber is the norm.
Reading the label of many baby food jars can be deceiving. Apple purée sounds healthy, doesn’t it? But the commercial version is not the same as what you would make at home.
Fruits and veggies are processed using ultra-high heat and shipped to baby food manufactures. They are then boiled down again which removes most of the nutrients. The resulting syrup has a very high sugar content.
For argument’s sake, let’s compare a 71 gram serving of commercial banana purees to an actual mashed banana: 
- *Sugar: 8.7 grams (naturally occurring sugar)
- Sodium: < 1 milligram
- Fiber: 1.8 grams
Gerber 1st Foods Banana Purée
- *Sugar: 13 grams
- Sodium: 5 milligrams
- Fiber: < 1 gram
Earth’s Best 1st Bananas
- *Sugar: 12 grams
- Sodium: 20 milligrams
- Fiber: 1 grams
*4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Check out these tips and recipes for homemade baby food.
How to break your family’s sugar addiction
If you have been feeding your child refined sugars, don’t beat yourself up. We now know more about the dangers of this addictive substance. We know it contributes to obesity and that more young children are developing Type 2 diabetes.
Here are some strategies to use to start reducing the amount of refined sugars your child is consuming:
#1 – Don’t keep sugar-filled foods in the home.
#2 – Be an example and reduce your own sugar intake.
#3 – Buy holiday candy from them or trade for a non-edible reward.
#4 – Eat at home before going places that do not have healthy options.
#5 – Discuss food “Rules” with your child before going out to avoid a scene.
#6 – Bring healthy alternatives to offer to your child when you go out.
#7 – Be firm with other family members who undermine your efforts.
This doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out desserts. There are plenty of alternatives made with natural sugars such as pure maple syrup or honey. Try these delicious and healthy recipes:
Chocolate Nests (Perfect for Easter)
Read about one family’s experiment to go One Year Without sugar and processed foods.
1. Ketler, A., & Walia, A., et al (2018). Meet The Kid Who’s Never Eaten A Gram Of Sugar In Her Life – Here’s What She Looks Like Today. Retrieved from https://www.collective-evolution.com/2018/04/11/meet-the-kid-whos-never-eaten-a-gram-of-sugar-in-her-life-heres-what-she-looks-like-today/ accessed Sep 5, 2018.
2. Piotrowski, D., et al. (2015). Shan Cooper’s baby girl Grace is on the paleo diet. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3353702/Shan-Cooper-s-baby-girl-Grace-paleo-diet.html accessed Sep 5, 2018.
3. Baker, L. (2015). Scary Ingredients in Commercial Baby Food and How to Make Your Own at Home. Retrieved from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/scary-ingredients-in-commercial-baby-food-and-how-to-make-your-own-at-home/ accessed Sep 5, 2018.
4. Pesticides in Baby Food: Foreward. (1995). Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/research/pesticides-baby-food/forward#.W4_oWc5Kjcs accessed Sep 5, 2018.
5. Davenport, M., et al (2017). Baby food labels are lying to you. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@elledaven/baby-food-labels-are-lying-to-you-7b6a8faaacc5 accessed Sep 5, 2018.
6. Moyer, M. (2013). Homemade Baby Food Is Best. Sorry, Busy Parents, but It’s True. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2013/09/homemade_versus_store_bought_baby_food_your_kitchen_beats_the_jars.html accessed Sep 5, 2018.
7. Presti, L. (2016). Strategies For Raising Sugar-Free Kids. Retrieved from http://naturallysavvy.com/nest/strategies-for-raising-sugar-free-kids accessed Sep 5, 2018.
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