Sugar-free childhood = Sugar-addicted adulthood? - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 28 Old 06-23-2003, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh and I are currently debating the possibility of raising dd sugar-free. It all started with the question of the one year birthday cake : . I hear a lot that sugar-restriction in childhood leads to sugar-addiction later in life, but I also hear that if they aren't used to it, they won't have a taste for it.

What's your personal experience? My parents didn't restrict sugar (except for a period of a year or so after some weekend workshop they went to out west), and I'm totally addicted, crave it, can't go without it, etc.
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#2 of 28 Old 06-23-2003, 03:40 PM
 
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i was raised on crap -- white bread, soda, powdered chocolate/sugar mix added to my milk, luncheon meats, hostess snack cakes, -- you get the picture. i don't think i ever saw a vegetable in the house, and candy and baked goods were ubiquitous.
i have the sweet tooth from hell. sugar and chocolate cravings rule my life. well, they did. i am really fighting them now because i think it's ridiculous for me to be eating something and tell shoshanna she can't have any. if it's fine for me, it's fine for her, so i need to overhaul the kitchen.
she didn't have any sweets until she was 18 months, and she rarely has them now. i'm not going to say she can never have them, but as long as i control the foods brought into the house, healthy choices will far outweigh the unhealthy. because of shoshanna, i have become more mindful of my food choices and stopped buying potato chips and chocolate candies. if i could wean my husband from juice and caffeine, we'd be set!
okay, that got off on a tangent. sorry. in a nutshell, i think both banning it and allowing unrestricted access to sweets can be harmful, and i think moderation is the way to go.
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#3 of 28 Old 06-23-2003, 03:54 PM
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We all like sugar. You've tasted breastmilk, right? It's VERY sweet. I'm no nutritionist, but I suspect the desire to eat sweets is, at least to a moderate degree, innate.

Even if you prevent your child from having any food with refined sugar, there's still natural sugar in alll sorts of food. Will you try to prevent your child from eating all fruit? Will honey be off the list? Will you not allow your child to have pizza or pasta with a tomato-based sauce? What about the sugar in milk and dairy products? Will you prohibit your child from ever eating a cookie that a friend gives to him? Really?

Refusing to buy Oreos and Twinkies for your child is one thing. That's usually sensible, IMO. But no sugar? Ever? Of any kind? You can't be serious.
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#4 of 28 Old 06-23-2003, 04:06 PM
 
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When I was a kid there was a family that went to our church who didnt allow sugar in the house. Come potluck time time those kids ate anything and everything with sugar in it, they just seemed to crave it.

My Mom thoughts where moderation in everything so thats the way I was raised, we had sugar in the house but everything was homemade.
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#5 of 28 Old 06-23-2003, 04:12 PM
 
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Double post.
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#6 of 28 Old 06-23-2003, 04:22 PM
 
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I know two families who attempted this. In the first one, the eldest boy was not intentionally fed any refined sugar. His sweetest foods were dilute juice, salad dressing, and fruit. (They found sugar-free tomato sauce--it can be done! You just have to use something else to cut the acidity.) He liked those a lot, but also liked other things. When I last saw him he was six. He is an excellent, adventurous eater who loves vegetables. he doesn't overeat, he has a great appetite, he enjoys his meals. He's also got a great attention span and is very physically active.

The other little boy made it until he was about three before his parents relented and let him have some sugar. It was supposed to only be moderate. He is a sugar and junk food fiend. It is very difficult for him to eat real food, especially if he is in public. He doesn't have much of an appetite, but especially not when he's distracted. He doesn't like new foods. He's mostly interested in sweets. In spite of this, he is also both active and has a good attention span. He's now four.

From this I have learned that I have no idea how I'm going to deal with the sugar issue. It seems like in some families, you can have sugar and treats around, and the children eat them in moderation. I was a good eater who liked new foods and my dh has always had a great sense of moderation, so maybe our baby will take both of those sets of traits. I hope. :

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#7 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 09:09 AM
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The tomato sauce issue concerned the natural sugar in tomatoes. I personally don't put any sugar in my homemade tomato sauce (and never, ever used canned or jar sauce)!

IMO, if you're feeding your child healthy, homemade food that's made from scratch, and show as well that you can eat sweet things, but only in moderation, then you'll likely have the best chance of ending up with a non food obsessed child with relatively healthy eating habits.

If you're food-obsessed and controlling, on the other hand, you'll be more likely, IMO, to flag food as an "ISSUE" for the child, and be more likely to cause the child to have food issues of his/her own.

I do wish people would: (1) feed their children healthy, balanced, home-cooked from scratch meals; (2) eschew the disgusting Lunchables and green ketchup and the like; (3) not become food nazis re their children; and (4) stop obsessing with the matter!
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#8 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 11:06 AM
 
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I spent a lot of time reflecting on how to respond to this post. In essence, I agree that homemade food and moderation are key to raising a family with healthy food habits. (and parenthetically, I'm always impressed by your posts in this forum, which reflect a high level of culinary sophistication and willingness to experiment in the kitchen.)

But, it really hurts me to see you use the term "nazi" to describe a parent who doesn't want her child to eat some certain food. For one thing, it's not a good practice to use "nazi" about people who aren't actually nazis!

It's perfectly reasonable, to me anyway, that parents try different strategies to get their children to eat well. I've seen these strategies work or not work, but I don't think there is anything wrong with saying, "no refined sugar" or "no additional sweeteners" or "we don't eat animals in this house, honey" or whatever. I also know parents who tried to get sugar to be a non-issue by allowing their children to buy themselves a ration of candy every week.

Even on this board, I haven't seen a widespread consensus about which foods to avoid and which to consume. Yogurt! no yogurt! soy! no soy! meat! no meat! fat! no fat! Everyone seems to agree that they want to avoid chemical additives and processed food, but not everyone avoids them with the same rigor.

Anyway, if you grow up with religiously-based food restrictions, as I did, you get to know that everyone eats in a different way. Isn't that an important message for children, too?

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#9 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 11:13 AM
 
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I was raised on a very healthy vegetarian diet. I was never allowed white bread, chocolate, pop, etc.
I had very little sweets, other than fruit. Honey was the only sweetner we had in the home. My mom baked very rarely. If she did it was honey-sweetened, carob, something...
I guess sometimes, growing up I envied my friends parents lax attitudes towards sweets and food in general.
My best friend growing up always had all the sugary cereals, ice cream in the freezer, sugar laden peanut butter, chocolate milk, pepsi, etc. She also was sick a lot and had nasty illnesses often like strep throat, tonsilitis, appendicitis, etc.
I was rarely sick.
I still follow a healthy, low sugar diet and have had a very healthy life.
I have alsways fed my son a pretty low sugar diet. He would rather eat a plate of zesty curried vegis or baked yams over cookies and ice creams. Perhaps that is his personal taste, but i think that sugars can be addicting if given to children in excess.
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#10 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 12:49 PM
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But, it really hurts me to see you use the term "nazi" to describe a parent who doesn't want her child to eat some certain food. For one thing, it's not a good practice to use "nazi" about people who aren't actually nazis!
I'm sorry! I was using the term in the totally watered-down colloquial sense of "anti-smoking nazi" (of which I can probably be accused to be) and so forth. I suppose I shouldn't use it at all except in those very rare instances where the genuine meaning is actually warranted.
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#11 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 01:12 PM
 
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I was raised in a relativey sugar-restricted home. No sugar cereal, no white bread, lots of homemade stuff, very little junk food. But there was some occasional allowances, but they treated "splurges" like a special occasion thing (ice cream once or twice a month, penny candy occasionally, sometimes store bought cookies, but usually homemade, etc.) and so I never felt "deprived". We were also dirt poor, and couldn't afford "junk", but my mother was nutritionally saavy as well.


I love sugar and am probably borderline addicted. I cannot eat just one cookie, I have to have four : I can clean out a pint of Ben and Jerry's in a sitting and chocolate is my friend. Do I let my kids eat it? Sometimes. I don't buy sugar cereal or white bread, but I do sometimes buy cookies, ice cream and fruit juice popsicles, and we eat white rice pasta (don't like ww pasta and the kids don't seem to like brown rice). DH doesn't like anything green and could subsist on fast food if I let him. I proscribe to an everything in moderation philosophy and I am hoping that works.

Mama to three small people; wife to one big person; pet-person to cats and dogs..."Be the change you want to see in the world"-- Gandhi
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#12 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry! I've just started posting here because dd has only recently been eating solids. OF COURSE I didn't mean I would never give her any dairy products or fruit....hello....? I'm surprised that anyone would make that assumption, but I'll remember to take time to be very, very specific in my posts from now on - I guess that makes sense since this is a forum about food, and nowadays you have to be very careful about terms, especially when reading labels at the grocery store. It seems food companies are getting away with anything today - i.e. being able to write "no sugar added" when there's a certain percentage fructose-sucrose in the syrup they've added...:

I did mean refined sugar-free. Sucrose that is, processed, white, granulated...etc. The stuff that's in junkfood, desserts, etc. Well, I guess even cane sugar, honey, etc. Basically sucrose - that gets metabolized by your body too quickly, that causes addiction, that makes your blood sugar levels roller coaster...

I thought moderation might be something our family could try. I got ahold of a couple of cookbooks that use raisins, dates, fruit juice, etc. to sweeten baked goods and treats for kids. I figure if I started cooking like that then dd wouldn't develop a taste for ultra-sweet foods, and when she does try stuff at friends', at grandma's, at a store or restaurant, it will be too sweet for her, and she'll learn quick that she better not eat a lot cause it will make her sick. Unfortunately, dh hasn't learned that in his 3+ decades of life. He won't stop (the whole box of Girl Scout cookies before 10 AM), and ends up feeling sick to his stomach - no matter how many times it's happened before : . And dd does have his genes after all....

I'd really like to know what your PERSONAL experience was - or those you know... I'll have to come to a decision that will work for my family, but I wanted to consider others' experiences with this since I've only got one of my own....
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#13 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 03:22 PM
 
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Personal experience? You asked for it...
I was one of those sugar free kids. My Mom was the food police. No candy, potato chips, sugary cereals, processed foods, etc.
What did I do? Well, as soon as I got old enough I started stealing coins from my Moms purse. Then I ran to the corner store and bought pocket fulls of penny candy. I went down into my basement, and stuffed myself silly and hid the wrappers.
I still prefer to do my junk food binging alone, and I have MAJOR food issues.
Now you asked for personal experience, and here it is, but I think personal experience is far from scientific.
Personally, I believe in moderation. For the most part, that is how I raise my kids. If I am fanatic about anything, it's that our junk is organic. But there is junk. For the most part, I find my kids make pretty healthy balanced choices when given a selection of foods. Works for us.
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#14 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 04:36 PM
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I did mean refined sugar-free. Sucrose that is, processed, white, granulated...etc. The stuff that's in junkfood, desserts, etc. Well, I guess even cane sugar, honey, etc. Basically sucrose - that gets metabolized by your body too quickly, that causes addiction, that makes your blood sugar levels roller coaster...
But here's the rub: sugar is sugar is sugar, at least in terms of how our bodies process it. So, at least in terms of how we metabolize it, it really doesn't much matter whether we're eating a doughnut or eating a grape.

Thus, my question about fruit and dairy and the like - it all contains sugar, and we metabolize sucrose and fructose and the like all the same.
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#15 of 28 Old 06-24-2003, 11:38 PM
 
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Really??!! That surprises me. It sure doesn't *feel* like I metabolize the Krispy Kreme glazed and the bunch of organic green seedless grapes the same! I feel much much better after the grapes than after the donut, but perhaps that is psychological or a conditioned response? I know that sugar cane, honey, maple syrup, sugar beets, etc. are all found in our environment and are edible, and to my way of thinking that means they are meant to be at least a part of our diet (I feel the same about meat and dairy). I believe it is the processing that is the problem, as well as overindulgence. Evolutionarily speaking we are meant to crave sweets and fats because they were scarce for hunters/gatherers. They were compelled to actively seek out the small amount we require, but now there is an overabundance of cheap, easily available sweets and fats. I know I'd be just fine if I lived in an environment in which they were scarce! If only! : Then there's also the concern about underpaid citizens of third world countries supplying ours with cheap sugar.

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#16 of 28 Old 06-25-2003, 12:49 AM
 
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I was on a sugar free diet as a child because I was born hypoglycemic and still am to this day. I never ate sweets because I hated the way I felt after eating them. Dessert for me was a plate of peas. There were some years during college and shortly after when I binged on sugar and felt horrible afterwards but the temptation was greater than the consequence. Nowadays I hardly ever eat refined sugar and truly love fresh veggies etc. Since my husband is a type I diabetic, we definitly limit sugar intake in our household. I hope our children don't see it as being to restrictive when the time comes.

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Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were a minute old, I would have died for you. That is the miracle of life. ~Maureen Hawkins~
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#17 of 28 Old 06-25-2003, 04:08 PM
 
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Well - I couldn't let this thread go by without putting my thoughts in. I get asked this question all the time because I try to raise my children on a relatively sugar free diet.

My feeling is that we don't have sugary foods in the house. I bake healthy low-sweetened stuff when the mood strikes me but that's it at home. When we go out, or for birthdays/holidays, or at friends house, I will allow my kids to have a sweet - one portion - and that is really special for them.

I don't want to totally outlaw sweets because I don't want my kids sneaking or binging on them. So far, they seem to have a very good healthy attitude toward sweets.

Cathe Olson, author The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, Simply Natural Baby Food, and LIck It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love.  
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#18 of 28 Old 06-27-2003, 03:15 PM
 
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Well, here's my story: I was raised in what was considered a food-moderate household in the '70's and '80's. My mom cooked according to the "four food groups" theory of the day. There were sweets, sodas and processed foods around, though I think not more than in most households, and we ate a fair amount of fresh fruits & veggies. Sometimes my mom's friend Kathi would blow into town. When she visited, we got whole meal bread and "healthier" sweeteners. My sister and I kicked up a fuss (just on principle, mind you) and Kathi's son Michael would spend every free moment raiding our cabinets and fridge for foods that were forbidden to him at home. We thought that was pretty funny.

I have a raging sweet tooth and a chocolate addiction to boot. My sister is the same way but even worse. (BTW, I'm not fat or even chubby and my sister is downright skinny. I'm healthy as an ox and she is sickly.) Both of us have turbo stomachs and can eat any amount of sugar until we finally tire of the taste, but it never makes us feel queasy. Once or twice relatives let us gorge ourselves thinking we would get sick and "learn our lesson" but it never happened.

As for my son (9 mos.), I am not feeding him any sweets at home. When we go to visit people, however, look out! Giving kids little sugar-bombs seems to be a primary way for people to relate to them here (in the Cz. Rep.), and parents are not asked whether the kid should have them. I have not been very assertive in saying no, mainly because people already think we are weird and pity the baby b/c we are vegetarians and lecture us and talk behind our backs about our AP practices.

I think our policy on sodas and other packaged sweets will be "not in the house, it is a special treat for when you go out/go visiting." This is pretty much what my husband and I do with beer. Otherwise, I will bake cookies every once in a while and hope that A. gets a taste for fresh homemade things over crap that comes wrapped in bright paper or plastic.

My chocolate addiction will probably go underground soon. We all have our little secrets.
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#19 of 28 Old 06-27-2003, 07:10 PM
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Originally posted by Sofiamomma
Really??!! That surprises me. It sure doesn't *feel* like I metabolize the Krispy Kreme glazed and the bunch of organic green seedless grapes the same! I feel much much better after the grapes than after the donut, but perhaps that is psychological or a conditioned response?
It might be surprising if Krispy Kremes and grapes were each 100% sugar, but they're not. Consider what else goes into each, and how each is prepared. Other factors influence how we feel when we metabolize food than just their sugar content.
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#20 of 28 Old 06-27-2003, 10:03 PM
 
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My husband was raised in a sugar-free household. I was raised in a sugar-inundated household. I still love sugar, but HE is the one totally addicted to it.

I think the ideal would be to do as little sugar and refined foods as possible, without the kids being aware that they were being "deprived". I think it's the feeling of deprivation -- when you see other people eating those fancy looking decadent things that you never get -- that psychologically causes an obsession. I also think though that it doesn't matter how much you *don't* eat sugar in childhood, once you do start eating it you're doomed, because it's yummy and it's addictive.
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#21 of 28 Old 06-29-2003, 07:25 PM
 
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i think some of it has to do with will power too. i have none, my dh is full of it.

i was raised by a mother that was constantly on a diet. therefore NO non nutrious food of any kind was allowed in the house. no desserts, no soda, no sugared cereal, no snack food. if it was there she would eat it. i didn't have a problem until jr. high when we had access to vending machines and would play at other peoples houses after school. i would binge, hide, and hord whatever crap i could. in high school i would buy girl scout cookies and hide them in my room. i always got snacks from the soda and vending machines. it got worse in college. i would live on junk food if i could.

still to this day it is a weakness, but now i have children so it has to be controled and moderated. dh has no trouble moderating his sugar intake and he works out everday. i don't, so the sugar affects me more. i have to loose weight big time!!! and i'm not talking pregnancy weight.

we are not raising our children sugar free. we just make sure we are not buying the worst stuff out there. dd1 had cake and ice cream on her first bday. she is allowed organic or homemade cookies. when we got out no one orders french fries and i make sure the waiters bring her fruit instead. we call her the fruit bat, she could live on the stuff.

only time will tell if she has felt deprived and turns out like me. i really hope not.
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#22 of 28 Old 06-30-2003, 12:22 AM
 
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ut here's the rub: sugar is sugar is sugar, at least in terms of how our bodies process it. So, at least in terms of how we metabolize it, it really doesn't much matter whether we're eating a doughnut or eating a grape.
I've read a lot lately that would disagree with this. (Things about food combining, Macrobiotics, as well as 'Sugar Blues'.) They seem to state that in its natural form (fruit or honey or cane juice) that the other minerals/vitamins whatever are present and that this helps slow the digestion and decrease the sugar rush. I really can't think of more info about this but it's out there. Please check out 'Sugar Blues' it's a very interesting read.
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#23 of 28 Old 06-30-2003, 12:24 AM
 
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I was raised with almost no sugar in the house. I remember going to a freinds house and her putting white sugar on top of her cereal!! I was amazed I wasn't even allowed to eat a sugar coated cereal.

I moved out and ate like crap for a few years but soon tired of it and now eat mostly healthy, for example no white bread only 100% whole wheat, we eat salads almost everyday and not with iceberg lettuce!! we rarely eat meat, ect.

But I say keep them sugar free as long as you can becasue soon will come parties, and candy at everyhting(after getting haircut, after piano practice, stoppping by grandparents, playing at a friends house whose parents pantry look like it could be THE junk food isle at the store, the doctors office???!!! EVERYWHERE you turn)you do. You can moniter it only so much. You can be the wierd mom only so long! I was the only mom on the block with real fruit juice popcicles not just the sugar water kind and I had kids just say no thank you!!


Which would be fine but sometimes it is your turn to provide theses things like when your snack mom at soccer. I have bought things for those kinds of functions i wouldn't be caught dead buying otherwise.

Ok I am rambling but it is a source of frustration for me!

Sarah: :
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#24 of 28 Old 07-02-2003, 02:13 PM
 
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Personal experience 1: My mom was a great cook, but when I was growing up and in our part of the world, that meant meat, potatoes, green vegetable, fruit salad, sugary dessert. I also remember drinking Pepsi from a very young age and having a bowl of candy bars at my disposal. Yet in high school, I fasted all day, then ate a huge dinner and felt compelled to "hide" anything else I ate???

Personal experience 2: I'm a mom! I started researching nutrition after my son was diagnosed with a milk allergy, and dh, ds and I have gone vegan. What I consider healthy vegans - no hydrog oils, whole foods, etc. I don't buy foods containing dyes, additives or "extra" sugars and I bake/serve non-fruit desserts only occasionally. Like his parents, ds LOVES the sweets. He's only 3 1/2 and I don't know what the future will hold for him, but I do feel confident that he's getting a healthy start. And I have no trouble eating this way in spite of the food binges in my early years.

BTW, my cousin used the argument about deprive him of sweets and he'll become addicted. I have to ask then, should we give our children alcohol and other drugs at a young age to "prevent addiction"? Not me!
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#25 of 28 Old 07-02-2003, 02:42 PM
 
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We were pretty much raised with no sugar in the house, but it was no big deal elsewhere. (We didn't have dairy or sugar in the house because they triggered asthma attacks for my sister). I don't have much of a sweet tooth.

I think having it not easily available and not the "norm" but not forbidden either is the route we're going to take....
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#26 of 28 Old 07-03-2003, 11:49 AM
 
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I was raised on a healthy diet low in, but not completely banning, refined sugar. We had dessert every night: homemade cookies using honey, yogurt w/jam, or canned fruit in juice. No dessert after lunch, but afternoon snacks were sometimes sweetish: apple slices dipped in peanut butter and honey, toast w/jam, etc. No pre-sugared cereals, but we could sprinkle brown sugar or drizzle honey on our cornporridge or Cheerios.

Serious sweets were for special occasions. Birthday parties and New Year's Eve were the only times we had soda in the house. Halloween candy lasted until Christmas, and Easter candy lasted until Memorial Day, because we had one piece after school and one piece for dessert each day. Grandma would send a box of Christmas cookies and caramels and such, and those could be eaten in more generous portions, yet they always lasted well into January.

When my brother and I were in grade school, my parents relaxed a bit and began to stock things like Minute Maid Fruit Punch (not 100% juice) and cheapo sandwich cookies. All along, we had been allowed to eat things like that at friends' houses, class parties, etc.

Both of us grew up to be healthy eaters who can easily get thru a whole day without significant sugar and not really notice. When we have binged on a food, it's usually been one w/little or no refined sugar, like blueberries or chips&salsa. Given a choice between a processed food that's all-natural and a similar food that contains added sugar or corn syrup (like spaghetti sauce) we both prefer the natural version.

That's my personal experience, FWIW.

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#27 of 28 Old 07-05-2003, 03:00 PM
 
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I truly believe that we are going to be sugar addicts or not depending on our genetic makeup and not what we were exposed to as kids. Maybe I'm just fooling myself but I just have heard too many stories which contradict the moderation theory, the deprivation theory and the overload theory. Case in point: I was raised in a relatively healthy eating environment, refined sugar products were available but not encouraged. My mother rarely served cake and cookies for dessert but they were in the house (in fact, she rarely served anything for dessert). I am not a sugar addict. DH was raised in almost the same circumstances. He is a complete sugar addict. I am raising DD in the exact same way that I was raised (except we are vegetarian). If she becomes a sugar-aholic, well, I don't think I can help it.

I will say this in defense of the "nazi" comment: I agree with what the poster said. I think the main difference between the way DH and I were raised with food is that my parents never encouraged eating, it was there and the theory was "eat what you want to eat, don't eat what you don't want to eat." DH had to clean his plate and think of the starving children of Europe. He definitely has food issues and I definitely do not.

I think the main thing is to not make eating any kind of stressful situation. If my daughter wants a cookie before dinner, I give it to her. She is a fantastic eater. If she wants to skip a meal and have a snack an hour later, I do it. She will try any food and loves most things (she's 3, by the way). No one is ever permitted to encourage her to eat "one more bite", not a problem for my mother but my MIL has issues with that one!

I guess that's why I wanted to respond. Any kind of extreme makes me uncomfortable because it feels like an enormous amount of thought is going into it. Not that I don't think we should put thought into what we eat, and I'm a vegetarian so I need to spend more time thinking about it than the mom who grabs some McDonald's at dinner time. But even with the vegetarian thing, I do allow my daughter to eat chicken or even a hamburger is we're at a friend's house and she wants it. I want food to be about pure joy and celebration, not any battles.
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#28 of 28 Old 07-06-2003, 04:31 PM
 
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I was raised by a whole foods junkie. My mom did everything from scratch and we didn't even get honey, it was Black Strap mollassas (sp?) or nothin'. I grew up to be a sugar fanatic! I still am but you know what...I am now the whole food junkie mom (though not quite as bad) and dd doesn't have a taste for sweets (she does for salt but that is a whole different story : ). I feel like what I got from my childhood was a good foundation and add that to my ideas about moderation, I think my kido will find her own balance when she is grown.

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