As part of our Rock My Family Food Week we are delighted to share this lovely post with you from nutritionist Lizzie King from Lizzie Love Healthy and photographer Helen Rose about introducing a sugar free diet. I am definitely guilty of giving the girls (and myself!) too much sugar. It’s something I’m very aware of but just haven’t quite been able to curtail so it is great to hear some advice from the experts.
Lizzie is a nutritional health coach, author and mother of three, who has just released her debut Cookbook, LIZZIE LOVES HEALTHY FAMILY FOOD. She started creating recipes and holding cooking classes when she was tired of the kids food out there not being as delicious or full of goodness as it could be. Her recipes are all gluten free as she is celiac, but without refined sugar as well, an ingredient that children are often fed a lot of and can be so easily done without.
The photographer Helen Rose was lucky enough to photograph Lizzie and her family then get some wonderful tips on how to implement a no sugar diet into her home with her own 3 young boys.
Advice From Lizzie
I’m so excited to now be able to share my recipes with others as I so needed this book 9 years ago when I had my first son.
The idea is that all the food is really fast, easy to make and as packed with nourishing goodness for our growing children as possible. Meals that we can all eat so we are not cooking several times a day for different ages. Tired mummies this is for you!
Whilst I do not ban any foods from my children, I don’t give them sugar in anything I cook for them. Food can taste fabulous without refined sugar in and I have created recipes for cakes, brownies and puddings galore ready to try on my website and in my book and loved and shared by many.
My take on sugar is simple; it is hugely addictive, lacking in any nutrients, a burden on the immune system, and worse still it can lead to so many longer term illnesses like obesity, diabetes and more. So, by not heaping it on our kids at home we are showing them life can be delicious as well as really good for you.
Sugar is high in calories and little else, so there is no benefit to us or our children whatsoever. Moreover it fills up tiny bellies with empty calories leaving less space for the real foods that could be nourishing them instead. Most intrinsic sugars found in whole foods, like lactose in milk, fructose in fruit etc, are bound up with water, fibre and the all important vitamins and minerals, thus buffering the impact of the sugar as well as adding great benefits.
The dangers of sugar are not just its addictive properties but the very real damage it does to us and the terrifying long term effects. It’s concentrated nature leads to weight gain which can lead to obesity, pre-diabetes then type-2 diabetes, fatty liver, kidney failure and heart disease.
Reducing Your Sugar Intake
Going cold turkey and attempting a totally sugar-free diet for you and your family is one option, but it’s a pretty tough call and not necessarily realistic. Especially given the restraints that will inevitably then be inflicted on children – disallowing them from joining in with friends’ parties and denying them choices in restaurants may even be compounding the problem.
Keeping sugar to a minimum by avoiding fizzy drinks, packaged cakes and biscuits means we’re already making a huge start. Keeping a child’s palate low in sugar makes a difference to them long term too and the choices they make in later life. It’s often the case that children who have low amounts of sugar in their diet eat way less when confronted with it anyway.
A great idea for a first step, is to get rid of the sugary cereals and snacks in your home, and try and keep your food there to a minimum in sugar content. And focus on what you can add in as well so it’s not all about deprivation. Real, delicious, whole foods are easy to make appealing and are a great way of replacing sweet treats. By ensuring all meals have a balance of good fats, protein and carbs you can balance blood sugars, and will be filling your little ones up with the good stuff and leaving them not wanting for more.
At first it can seem really hard as sugar is in so many packaged foods, sauces, cereals and snacks particularly ones aimed at children. But just take one step at a time and I can even suggest my top 5 sugar swaps to help get you off on the right foot:
Sugary cereal Homemade muesli or porridge with berries cereal bars Energy balls packet snacks Nuts, seeds and fruit in a pot – homemade trail mix Tomato Ketchup Milly’s Kidchup (genius sugar free ketchup my kids adore) Regular Jam My 5 minute Chia berry jam