Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sugar Decision

As far as diet goes, nothing seems to bring on as much controversy as giving up sugar--unless maybe it's giving up meat. I imagine vegetarians get a lot of flack from people too.

But for us, when the sugar topic comes up, we seem to get two reactions: 1) "That's great. I really should give it up too, and 2) A look of incredulity and some comment expressing pity. And then there are those who feel like our decision to go refined-sugar free is a judgment call against them. I'm not sure why giving up sugar is met with this second reaction so often. If we gave up apples or bell peppers people might think that odd, but surely they wouldn't take it personally. :)

So I wanted to set the record straight--for our family, anyway--and hopefully give a little perspective.
  • This decision to not eat refined sugar was not one we came to early or easily. (And we actually haven't given it up completely, as there are occasions when we will partake, such as at parties or when my husband takes one of our children out for ice cream, as a special treat.) It--like most of our other lifestyle changes--came about as a direct result of a need to help someone or other in our family not get sick as often, or to feel healthy again, or to stop hurting, etc. We researched, we experimented over time, we paid attention to how we felt and whether or not health was improved, and we implemented what worked.
  • A few years ago I wasn't ready to give up sugar. So I understand that feeling. One thing that really helped us make the change to honey or raw sugar was, as I've mentioned before, realizing we didn't have to be sweet-deprived. I still make goodies often and we love them. In fact, we like them so much that when we do try other, regular sweets, to our taste buds they often lack flavor and substance. So, no feelings of deprivation here!
  • However, this does not mean we are critical of anyone's cooking or judgmental of parents who let their children eat refined sugar foods on a regular basis. You make your decisions and we make ours. This is simply a diet boundary we have set for ourselves and is not meant as a judgment call against anyone else. And if my talk about it has somehow offended you, I sincerely apologize. No offense or judgment was intended.
  • The curious thing about sugar is the longer you go without it, the less you feel the need for it or even want it. It becomes easier and easier to say "no thank you" and to pass on the sugar goodies. We don't need them anymore, so it's no big deal to decline.
  • Crazy as it seems to me, there have been a few who have expressed concern that our children don't know what it's like to eat regular sugar (thereby hinting that we're depriving them of this delectable experience). This is a moot point simply because anyone with children knows that they're offered candy at many routine places you take them: the bank, the post office, even the dentist's or doctor's office. After a while, I learned how to respectfully decline most of these without my children minding, but then there's school. During many times of the year, children are given treats at school nearly every day--and that's not even counting school lunch (which my kids don't have). Our kids deal with this sugar inundation by choosing one sugar thing to eat and declining the rest, or bringing home what's portable (where we either keep it for another time or throw it away). My children are learning self-control and how to eat in moderation and I don't in any way see this as a bad thing.
I hope this clarification has helped to give some perspective into why we made this decision, how we made it, and what we do instead. And I also hope, instead of feeling bad for us, or thinking we're deprived for having given up most refined sugar, you can respect that we have chosen to take responsibility for this decision in our lives and are doing what is right for our family. We certainly respect you in yours. :)

For anyone interested in making the switch, like we have, please check out my post from 3 years ago that details how to determine what your actual refined sugar intake is (which is generally much higher than most people realize).

For more information on honey, raw sugar, or sugar (and what the differences between them are), and for recipes that substitute honey or raw sugar for refined sugar, please do a search on my blog (upper left corner) or click on the topic of your choice (right side).


jcgk said...

I am appalled at how much sugar (in the form of candy rewards, school party treats and birthday treats) my kids are exposed to. Do you know they took R to a bowling alley filed trip and gave them PEPSI to drink?!?!?? The teachers think I'm crazy (I'm sure) or at the very least a food snob (which I am) because R will ask if the juice or candy etc has artificial colors or flavors. He even asks "Is this real juice or just sugar water?" That's my boy! Look out for what you put in your body :)

Shennie said...

We don't limit our refined sugar and I am annoyed at how much sugar is handed out at school (and church!). Why do people think that being nice means handing out sugar...

Rob & Emily Willardson Family said...

We eat way too much sugar in our family. We have made (and continue to make) improvements little by little. For me, when someone tells me they not eat sugar, my first thought is, what do I eat with sugar? ( and i feel a little guilty for lack of self control in that area) So, I hope I don't offend others when I take a second to think what it would take for me to give it up, and admire you a bit.
On the other hand, I also think it is important to teach children to use good manners. More than once I have had a child rudely tell me that the fruit snack or whatever I gave MY child was pure candy and not good for you. As you stated in your post, each family has to decide what is appropriate for them. I think it is just as important to teach children to respectfully decline, not point out other's "bad" choices ( we have had to especially teach this especially with tattoos and modestly).
I agree with Shennie, way too many treats!

Katrina said...

Yes, teaching manners is always in order--and necessary to teach and reteach almost constantly. :/


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