Why my kids eat sugar
We all feel a little guilty, don’t we, when we eat sugar loaded treats. Do you feel like a bad parent when you give sugar to your children? I know I did! So WHY do my kids eat sugar? Moreover, why am I okay with it? In this blog post I will share with you our path, our struggle and our new found peace with sugar. Plus tips on how you too can find a win-win in the fight against sugar.
Before I start a quick refresher of the Yogic Diet. The cornerstone of the yogic diet are the three food categories; Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Read more in detail about them in this article here. The short version is that these three categories divide food into good for balancing the mind, good for the body and bad bad for everything. Let’s go through them quickly and do a little QUIZ at the end. Maybe it will give you a clue as of why my kids eat sugar.
These are high growing foods that absorb most energy from the sun. They are calming and nourishing. Sattvic foods are top of the game in clean eating. Examples are above ground vegetables (e.g. eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, squash) fruit, fresh herbs, grains, seeds and tree nuts. Also legumes and pulses as well as dairy products and healthy fats like olive oil and ghee.
Rajasic foods stimulate the body and bring sensation. Usually it’s the spicy and fragrant spices that stimulate the senses for example cumin, coriander, turmeric and spicy spices like black pepper or red pepper. Rajasic foods also include under ground growing foods. These are vegetables that grow in the soil, like potatoes, onions, garlic and ginger as well as root vegetables, like beets, celery root, parsnip, carrots or rutabaga.
The last category is all the foods you shouldn’t have. In other words, regressive foods that harm the body and stand in the way to a balanced, healthy body and mind. Tamasic Foods are the opposite of clean eating and calm, they cause anger, greed and aggression. It should go without saying that this category of foods should be avoided. I guess you can think of some examples yourself, but here you go. Tamasic foods are meat, fish and eggs. Processed foods like fast food, cereals or prepackaged meals. Also deep fried food, artificial additives, alcohol and substances.
Where do YOU think sugar belongs? I’ll give you a few seconds (….) Okay time’s up. Here is the answer; Sugar is a Tamasic Food! Were you right?
I think you were. Secretly we all know that sugar is just as bad and addictive as, for example, alcohol. But we still like it and we still eat it. As a yogi or at least someone who practices yoga or follows the yogic diet, I really shouldn’t have any sugar. Even if you leave yoga completely out of the picture and you just want to be healthy, the first things to drop are the Tamasic foods which includes sugar. We should all stop eating it, especially children. So WHY do my kids eat sugar?
A QUICK WORD ABOUT SUGAR
Before I get into why my kids eat sugar, a quick word about sugar itself. Sugar is a mysterious thing. It is a natural product, most commonly derived from sugar beets or sugar cane. That being said, it doesn’t mean it is naturally good for you. Sugar is known to give your body a shot of energy (fast working energy), which leaves your body to want more once the famous sugar rush runs out. Which is one of the reasons it is considered an ingredient to consume with caution. Especially if you compare it to slow working energy providers as whole grains.
Processed and Refined
Another thing to think about is that most sugar is highly processed, refined, and bleached. White sugar is an example of sugar that is commonly used in households around the world. Nevertheless it is completely processed and called refined sugar.
It is this refined sugar that is used in processed foods like candy, breakfast cereals, cookies, sodas, cakes, energy bars… there is too much to list.
Then, of course, there are new kinds of sweeteners commonly used nowadays in processed (baked) goods, like high fructose corn syrup, inverted syrups, and artificial sweeteners. None of which, as you probably know, are good for your body. Marshmallows, jelly beans, in general most of the big brand candies, candy bars and sweets are full of it.
It is a mess, a BIG BAD mess and still… My kids eat sugar! Read on for more.
Yogic Diet way
The yogic diet does not say don’t have anything sweet. In fact there are quite a few sweet recipes and traditional sweets that are totally okay for yogis and followers of the yogic diet to eat. Nevertheless these are made with natural sweeteners, especially honey. In our recipes for YogicFoods we use natural sweeteners too, like honey, agave, coconut sugar, dried fruit or in some cases sucanat. These are unrefined sugars.
Nevertheless, the yogic diet stresses, that these are still sugars. Just like fruit, fruit juice, dried fruits, fruit paste or fruit spread, even when they have no added sugars, they are still sweet and the (fruit)sugar content can still be very high. What I mean to say is, that even though honey or coconut sugar or fruit sugars are unrefined natural sweeteners, that doesn’t mean that baking with them grants you unlimited amounts of cookies or cakes to eat. Snack with awareness even when it is all natural.
WHY MY KIDS EAT SUGAR
Let’s cut to the chase. Here is the story and reason why my kids eat sugar.
Pure and beautiful
When our daughter was born, we saw a pure being. Nature had made it whole and healthy. Gurpreet and I didn’t want her to have anything in her beautiful small body that didn’t belong there. So we made sure to breastfeed her and later on to give only the purest foods, healthy and organic. She was not allowed any sugar or sugary foods like chocolates, sodas, cakes, candies etc.
This worked great for the first couple of years. She wasn’t asking for anything else, but apples or raisins as snacks. As she grew older, though, she became more aware of what she could get, but wasn’t given. How was this possible? It wasn’t the commercials, because she didn’t watch any tv.Surely wasn’t us! It were the little encounters we had with the lady at the counter offering a candy. The kids in the playground eating jelly beans. People licking ice creams in the park.
Especially around holidays, birthday parties or at family gatherings, she would see treats of all sorts. Her grandparents not at all understanding our vision and lifestyle didn’t really help either. They kept offering all kinds of candies and treats, which we would wave away with a hush and a stare.
Nevertheless the seed of curiosity had been planted and of course she had questions. And demands! There would be discussions and explanations. She would understand, but not approve. Most of the time we would get away with it, especially since she was still so young. Until she got older and started to secretly eat candies and treats. Shared by classmates, or sneaked to her by her grandma.
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These sweets were getting to be an obsession. We never wanted sugar to be a focus point in our lives. It shouldn’t even be there in the first place! Now, there was not only awareness of its existence, but also a craving, a true desire to have it. A desire so strong that she went behind our backs to get it. Obviously, because we said she couldn’t have any, just added to the obsession.
Pop the balloon
Where was the girl who loved plain yogurt, who would eat raisins and call them candy? She had left and was not coming back. She had grown and her knowledge of what was out there had grown with her. Our daughter was changing and our relationship with her was changing too. We didn’t want sugar to cause such a rift and distance between us.
That is when we decided to take away the mystique of the unknown. Pop that balloon on our own terms. We felt it was better to have her taste it and be done with it, rather than to bottle up frustration. Have her try that candy that looks so beautiful or tasty, rather than to grow an unhealthy obsession over it.
In our eyes, for the happiness of our family, we came to the conclusion it was more important to teach her how to handle cravings and control desire, rather than to force this rule on her. We felt very strongly, we should not fuel an unhealthy relationship with sweet treats.
Here we are
So, every once in a while (!) our children – we have a toddler son now too – are allowed that cookie or cupcake. Do I love it? Definitely not! Do I think it is the right thing to do? Yes.
Teaching them how to deal with emotional eating, peer pressure, desire and cravings. Educating them about how commercials and marketing make you want things you don’t need. Showing them how healthy choices can make you feel satisfied and fulfilled. Seeing how they learn what sugar does to their body and energy levels. It is all part of the journey to making them Life Long healthy eaters. And that is all and more I could wish for.
HOW WE DO IT
Now you know WHY my kids eat sugar, I’d like to fill you in on HOW we do it.
Talk, explain, repeat
You probably already do this. But it is important to know you are doing the right thing! Talking about your choices and the reason behind it, educates your children even if they do not always agree. Sometimes when my kids ask me for treats in the grocery store, I pick it up and read the ingredients to them. When they hear what artificial ingredients, color numbers and additives it contains, the excitement of eating it is kind of gone. Also focus on the good food. Point out to them the benefits of the food they eat. Why you choose it, how it benefits them, their mind and body. Just because you want to take away the mystique of the candy, doesn’t mean you give up your values!
Kids are smart. They will try to trick you into giving them more, because “last time it was okay!”. Make sure there are clear rules. We found this way that works well for us. Our extended family lives far away and we only see them a few times a year. Both our parents love to treat our kids and express their love for them through food. Mostly candy or cakes…. They find it very hard to understand and to follow our sugar philosophy. That is why our first step into allowing sugar, was that our children can have sugar treats when we visit them.
Because the sugar treats are now related to the visits to their grandparents it is easier to get back to our own rules once we are back home. We have now widened our sugar scoop to all our travels, not just family, but it still works. We love to travel and to try new foods. This way the children also get to try and experiment with foreign foods and local specialties. Maybe you want to limit treats to family visits, travel or special events and trips too.
How can you cheat on the cheating, you may ask? Good question! It is important for me to explain to you, that we always try to find the healthier version of a candy or bar the kids want to try. For example organic, natural coloring, vegetable gelatin, (mostly) fruit sugar sweetened.
Let’s say marshmallows is what they want. My kids read in a book about toasting marshmallows and they HAD to try it. I just couldn’t justify the regular high fructose corn syrup, chemical loaded conventional ones. That is why I bought the natural alternatives. They still had their experience. They toasted beautifully. And I still had my pieces of mind. Same goes for jelly beans. I found natural colored ones without the artificial additives. Lollypops, cookies, candies, cakes…
There are a lot of natural, organic and – less bad for you – versions of the conventional candy staples out there. Look for organic. Check the sugar. Obviously, as this article is about why my kids eat sugar, I allow them sugar. However, I do not allow them sugar all the time, no high fructose corn syrup either. Food coloring and gelatin are other big no no’s.
One of the things that has stuck to me most and I want to pass on to you, is that it is not important. What I mean by that is, don’t show to your child how important it is to YOU. The reason why my kids eat sugar nowadays is to educate them and allow them to develop a strong stand against ALL those seductive foods and substances out there in the big world.
If I connect emotions to food, my children will learn to do that too. That is why I don’t give candy or sugar treats when my children feel sad, bad or are hurt. Food is not a way to fix emotions. This also counts for happy moments. Most people celebrate happy moments with cake or treat themselves to a big chocolate bar because they ‘deserve’ it. As the children grow up we want them to know sugar and sweets are not important if let’s say, they are stressed at work, their boyfriend left them or they just had a bad or good day…
Same goes for you. As parents, we shouldn’t get upset or express strong emotions when the kids want candy. Don’t give it much importance. If you don’t response in the way they expect, half the curiosity is gone already.
Remember the reason why my kids eat sugar, and maybe yours will too, is because we want to deflate that balloon of expectations and curiosity. Also pop the balloon of importance. That means it is just what it is. Been there, Done that – Ate it, Tried it, move on.
Here my husband and I are on a different bandwagon. We both agree very much as to why our kids eat sugar. Nevertheless how much, is a different story. So YOU choose what it is best for your situation and your child.
Small and sweet
I believe a small bit should be enough to taste. You want ice cream? We will share a cone. If there is a cake to try, we will share a slice. In restaurants we share a dessert. This way everyone gets to taste it without really eating too much of it.
Go big or go home
Gurpreet thinks different about this, though. When you try it, try it well, is his way. So when you eat cake, EAT the cake! Eat a whole slice or two if you must. Eat until you are so full and done with it, that you can’t even say cake anymore. This way, he assures me, the children really satisfy that craving and really pop that curiousity bubble for good. In fact they even associate it now with nausea and feeling unwell because of the amount they ate. They won’t want to see anymore cake for the rest of their lives!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Every parent, as far as I know, struggles with the temptation of sugar. We found a balance with it and I’m happy I could share with you the reason why my kids eat sugar. Of course, balance is key. They don’t eat sugar all the time, always, everywhere!
Making and eating wholesome food that fulfills and satisfies both your body and your mind is the wonderful gift of the Yogic Foods diet. Following a yogic diet has a lot of benefits and makes it easier to eat healthy. Even when you want to eat something sweet. Yet, sticking to it and making breakfast, lunch and dinner can be quite overwhelming.
That is the reason why we made these 3 beautiful recipe apps. Full of yogic diet recipes for every day meals, special occasions, savory and sweet treats. Every app has its own fantastic recipes made, photographed and written down by me, Caroline. I love to eat good food every day and I’m sharing it with you through our apps and social media. As a developer and Kundalini Yoga Teacher, my husband Gurpreet, really wanted to give my cooking and the yogic diet in general a platform so YOU could eat as inspiring as we are!
Our YogicFoods original app is the first in our trilogy and filled with beautiful recipes and family favorites.
YogicFoods Global takes you on a trip and offers classics from around the world adapted to the yogic diet following the Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic Foods principles.
Our YogicFoods Baking is filled with sweet and savory bakes. I love to bake and our children love to eat baked goods. As I was experimenting and adapting cakes and cookies to the yogic diet, we knew we wanted to share this with you.
What do you think? Do you agree of the reasons why my kids eat sugar? Will you follow our example or is it way way too crazy? Let us know what YOU do to handle treats and snacks especially when with family or friends that do not respect your choices. We would love to hear what you found out your child was secretly eating candies behind your back.
Sat Nam and Namaste
Caroline & Gurpreet
YogicFoods is a blog about yogic foods, yogic diet and living a yoga lifestyle. We believe that family life and work can go hand in hand with a Yogic Lifestyle. We share our experiences, give tips, share recipes and hope to inspire.
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