Friday, July 8, 2011

Sugar, Sugar: Why We Choose To Limit It

Several times over the last few months jb and/or I have been asked why Leo doesn't eat sugar.  I've been pretty surprised by this question, thinking that it's fairly self explanatory - but more than one (totally intelligent and respected by me) person has asked, so I thought I'd outline our reasons for limiting sugar the best we can.  I'd also like to make clear that I don't judge parents who allow their kids to have sugar - especially in moderation.

1.  It's non-nutritive.  We want every bite he eats to count.  Ideally he'd eat all organic, local, non-processed foods - but that's not realistic for our family so we do our best to limit sugars, dyes, preservatives and to offer whole non-processed foods whenever possible.

2.  Giving him a head-start.  We realize we can't keep him from sugar forever.  He had a (refined) sugar-free first year and so far this year has had very little sugar.  I like to think we are giving him a good base; allowing him to learn to like the natural flavors and sweetness of fruits and vegetables.  

3.  I think sugar can be an addiction - and drug-like.  I know I struggle with it, and don't want Leo to face energy crashes, greedy-crazes, and possibly obesity because I passed on my bad habits.

Right now I'm happy with where we are at with this.  He had a low-sugar cake for this first birthday and we regularly make baked goods sweetened with honey and/or fruit puree.  Occasionally I'll let him have a few bites of my frozen yogurt or a sip of lemonade.  He loves smoothies and homemade popsicles.  I really don't feel like he's missing out.

Of course right now he's ok with me saying no to him trying sweeter foods I still enjoy.  For example I had a chocolate croissant at a playgroup the other day and he signed that he wanted some.  I told him no, that it was my snack and he should eat his snack (a banana), and he was ok with that answer.  Perhaps later I'll get more push-back, and when that happens I'll either limit my own treat intake (win-win, right?) or stay firm.  After all, I'm not going to give him beer or coffee just because he insists, right?  So things like soda and sugary treats will fall into the same category - not for kids.  Or I'll get better at not eating them.  Or we will all give in and be sugar junkies together.  I'll let you know how it works out.


  1. loved this post, it got me thinking about why we don't do sugar either (i, like you, thought it was obvious) ;)

    just did a post on it myself - thanks for the inspiration!

    adorable pic of leo!

  2. I'm right their with you. My sisters could never understand why I didn't until they were sneaking candy to my oldest son and he went through withdrawls and puked more than once. Little kids have tiny little systems and don't need sugar.

  3. love this post...i'm on the same page. bea hasn't had any sugar except fruit...

    but i really should go off sugar myself...lead by example...but it's tough sometimes!

  4. We have similar thoughts about it as well. I just don't see the point in giving a baby sugar. He loves fruit and hopefully, we can avoid sugar for a few more years. Plus hearing him say "a-na-na" for banana is way cuter than "cookie."

  5. LOVE! Wish I had done a better job of staying firm with this with my kiddos. They still eat much LESS sugar than average families, but I think I could be doing a better job at this.

  6. O'Boy! Organic10/18/2011

    We limit our sugar intake as well. Never started with the apple juice/water as a baby or tot, that meant if they were thirsty they would drink water and now they can't get enough of it. I think it's great you are starting your little guy off this way....he will be better for it. Looking forward to seeing how it all goes!

  7. Yes! The drinks are the things that surprise me most. Juice is ok in moderation, but chocolate milk or fake juice drinks - or (the horror) soda! I'm always shocked to see toddlers drinking that stuff on a regular basis.

  8. You can only stay so firm after the toddler years! If it's too forbidden I'm sure they will find a way to binge on their own. I think "better than average" is exactly what we are shooting for in the long run!