From conception until months after birth, nature designed us so that our baby would receive its nourishment from our own bodies. The natural assumption would be, we would only eat that which is good for us (especially while pregnant or nursing) and this is the best way to ensure our offspring would get proper nutrition.
What nature didn’t know about
It would seem that nature did not account for our advancement. After all, we have busy careers, our children have as much in their schedules as a corporate executive, and even our pets have play dates. We have transportation that can get us across the city in minutes, across the country in hours, and across the globe in a day. Technology tells us the temperature right now and what it will be at 4:00 pm, so we can dress comfortably for our meeting. And, it tells us what food to eat.
When you and your children watch television, you are told which sugar-heavy cereal will make them cool. You are told to buy pastries that we can grab on our way, or if we are feeling extra parental that day, give our children a hot breakfast. Our family meals are “cooked” in a microwave oven. It seems we have grown past our natural ability to select and prepare natural and unprocessed food for our children.
Juvenile Diabetes in Canada
The Canadian Diabetes Association refers to a national surveillance study on diabetes and the effects it has on Canadian youth:
“In a recent national Canadian diabetes incidence study, the mean age of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in youth was 13.7 years. However, 8% of all newly diagnosed children with type 2 diabetes were less than 10 years of age. In children of Aboriginal, Caucasian and Asian origin, 11%, 8.8%, and 8.7%, respectively, presented at less than 10 years of age. Thus, consideration should be given for screening at a younger age in those at high risk.”
If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, you will have to begin testing and monitoring their blood so you will know their blood-glucose levels.
Hopefully, you see the reason why going sugar-free in your home is helpful by now. So, let us give you some tips to help you get started.
Setting the rules
Decide as a parent if your home will be a strict, no-sugar home or if sweets will be an every once in a while treat.
While some parents go to the strict, no sugar at any time or any place rule, others take a softer approach. Some parents do not allow sugar in their homes, but they accept that the kid will have candy or cake at a birthday party or grandma’s house. You have to set rules that you and your children can live with, that fit into a less stressful lifestyle.
1. No sugar in your home
If you do not bring sugar in your house, desires for something sweet will turn to fruits or veggies. If you are in a position where you are hosting a party, serve your healthy treats. But, let your child feel like it is a special day with some (sugar-free) candy bags to hand out.
2. Speak with other parents
Determine who has the same feelings on the issue that you do. While you would not stop being friends with that family, if you find they are not in the same mindset, you can make better choices regarding the amount of time your child spends in their home. You can suggest the kids play at your house or take them to a park for activities.
3. Set an example
Kids do what you do, not what you say to do. If you fuss at grandma about giving the kids a cookie, yet you eat chocolate cake with your coffee, your child feels cheated. It is up to you how strict you are with the rules, and if you want to bend them on occasion, that is your business. But be fair and set a good example.
4. Do it with love
Remember you are training your child. You are building a foundation that will keep them healthy for their entire lives. Be careful to express love and concern for the child’s happiness when you are enforcing the rules. Do not use food as a punishment. Praise your child when they make the correct choices.
5. Don’t miss teachable moments
When your child indulges in something with a lot of sugar and they begin to feel strange, explain what is happening to them. Do not scold or lecture, but point out that the sugar made them feel jumpy and could be why they don’t feel good now. If they have trouble sleeping that night, explain the effects of sugar on their body.
Again, do it with love. You can do this. Your entire family will be better off for it.