I have three kids. While my firstborn was superbly skilled at rejecting any and all foods besides bread, I was blessed with second and third children who are naturally good eaters.
So when I made a lunchbox the other day that was quite possibly the most gourmet, all-the-colours-of-the-rainbow bento box of vegetables, fruits, basil dip with seaweed crackers, organic coconut yoghurt, and home-made pink-Himalayan-sea-salt-encrusted popcorn, I was pretty chuffed.
Not just chuffed; I was actually genuinely grateful that I knew he would eat it all, his body would love it, and that I got at least one parenting thing right that day.
His lunch was healthy, with no nasty stuff, no dairy or wheat, and no sugar. Yay for me, right?
But, he comes home and inside his empty lunchbox is a scrunched-up cupcake liner wafting the lingering aroma of vanilla and…
Sweet, sweet sugar.
Despite all my meal planning, grocery shopping at three different stores, bento lunch box googling and prep time in the kitchen, somehow sugar always finds a way into their day.
And not just once, but often twice, three times, ten times a day.
I’m not a sugar nazi. I even have sugar in my pantry. It’s just that I’m so aware of how much sugar is out there (and what it does to us) that I never use it.
I think we underestimate that white granulated powder far too much.
I get the feeling some people think it’s almost a child’s right to eat loads of sugar. “They’re just kids, that’s what kids eat right?”
Well, here’s a great quote: “we’re entitled to an opinion, but not our own set of facts.”
And the fact is, sugar is just terrible for us.
It suppresses our immune system, causes our blood sugar levels to skyrocket and our insulin levels to rise rapidly in response. Ever eat a lot of chocolate or lollies and feel super thirsty? That’s your body trying to regulate your system after it’s gone into complete meltdown.
I don’t want to go all doom and destruction on you, but the amount of rubbish that’s out there for our kids to nibble at every day – despite our best intentions – frightens the freckles off me.
It creates little human bodies that are a breeding ground for all sorts of long-term illnesses, malaise and poor health.
I don’t want my kids to grow up sick and addicted. I want them to eat a rainbow of veggies, not a rainbow of mixed lollies.
Initial detonation of the decline in real food began in the 70’s with the invention of microwave dinners – the first ‘fast food’ – and it’s been a slow, devastating and far-reaching shockwave ever since.
What can we do about sugarpocalypse?
First, let’s start having real conversations about food. Some stuff that we’re brainwashed told is good for us is actually incredibly damaging to our bodies. So if someone mentions something about food and health that you didn’t know about, or don’t agree with, take the time to research it.
You never know. They may be right.
For me, the process has been lots of slow, small changes at a grassroots level. It’s the only way I can let my kids roam free in a sugar-coated world and know the balance is still tipped in my favour.
Grassroots means changes at a foundational level.
Once we start taking action – even the littlest ones, like switching chocolate-coated muesli bars to less-processed oat bars, or even just reading labels – we take actions that will build, one on top of the other, a lifestyle of good food choices and quality additions to our diet that are easy to maintain and give us and our kids the best shot at true, enduring health.
The most rewarding thing is that if we can change things for our families, then we might start seeing the next generation bucking modern trends and turning toward real food even more.
The pendulum has to swing back at some point. Why shouldn’t we be the ones to push it?
We need to get serious about the world we’re in.
We’ve moved miles away from grandma’s cooking, with real meat from animals that were healthy and grass-fed, and milk that was full of vitamins, and food that was seasonal and authentic.
We live in a world of industry, cruelty, chemicals and hormones, processes and additives. Oh, and we live in a world that’s run by the people with the most money and the loudest voices.
They want you to buy crap. They don’t care how much they have to lie and propaganda to make you buy it.
It’s time to tell them to get stuffed, and take charge of your own family.
I don’t mean embarking on an unsustainable, overnight transformation that makes you stressed out and more time-poor.
I don’t mean asking you to give your fussy kid a Greek salad and expecting him to wolf it down because you tell him it’s got heaps of vitamin C in it.
I mean a slow revolution, one where we gradually add in, substitute and modify our family food to include the essential elements for wellness.
That way, when Mr Polished-Off Cupcake’s remnants show up in your kids’ lunchbox, you can feel grateful that you’ve already put a foundation of nourishing, beneficial foods and immune-boosters in place that day.
If you’ve got picky eaters and you’re already thinking I’m nuts, you’ll just have to trust me. My picky eater has not only adjusted easily to these little tips and tricks, but he actually eats better because of them.
Of course, you won’t be able to stop your family getting hit by the sugar fallout now and then. But with these changes, you’ll create a bunker where they can be safe and growing stronger every day.
I’ll have more info about how to go grassroots in my blog, launching in December 2017.