Health

Getting my kids off sugar

I’m putting the kiddies on detox, stat. We just straggled back into our home and lives after two weeks in the Netherlands for an absolutely lovely family reunion.

I’m putting the kiddies on detox, stat. We just straggled back into our home and lives after two weeks in the Netherlands for an absolutely lovely family reunion. And it was a vacation where, well, their dad and I loosened the rules just a bit for our 5 year old daughter A. and two year old son D. We dragged the two of them to dinner parties and let them fall asleep on the couch, rather than tucking them into bed by the usual 8 p.m. Or we went a day (or two…) without giving them a bath –gross for us, treat for them.

And then there was the food. See, the Netherlands is a real-life candy land. Candy is everywhere—peppermints are tucked into glove compartments to dole out for 10 minute car rides. Gas station shelves are stuffed with bags of gummies and liquorice for trips that last marginally longer. My little Hansel and Gretel quickly sniffed out the difference in this new land and were soon begging for tart Hartjes or fruit Mentos. And it was a slippery sweet slope from there—as anyone who knows a Hollander can testify, the Dutch love candy for breakfast. Chocolate or fruit sprinkles on buttered toast is a beloved national treat.

And then the drinks. Here at home, we maintain a pretty strict no juice in the house rule for two reasons—we worry about tooth decay and also want to avoid the filling the kids up on liquids so they won’t eat their meals. But like the candy and intermittent bathing, our no-juice stance slipped too and soon the kids were drinking Fristi (a strawberry milk/yogurt drink), chocolademelk (chocolate milk) or sap (juice) instead.

Which brings us back to the detox. As part of my work re-entry this week, I came across this study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reminding me of why I’m getting back on track. This study, which looked at research from children 2-18 years old in the U.S. noted that nearly 40 per cent of the total energy kids in the study were taking in daily were from “empty calories”— calories that don’t healthfully fuel your body, such as juices, pizza, grain desserts (such as cookies) and soda. Gulp.

With that in mind, this morning I shoved all the juice boxes left over from summer picnics to the back of the pantry so they’re far from prying little eyes. At the same time it also clicked that a little moderation is more likely in order to have juice once in a while as a treat here at home and that’s okay. And then maybe they might not scream for it like it’s liquid from the heavens when it comes to the next vacation.

But, wait….how did they find that 2/3 empty bottle of cranberry juice later in the morning?!? Clearly I need to bust my jet lag sleepiness and do a more thorough once over of the kitchen.

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