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The Great Debate: Sweet Enough?
Food & Recipes Food & Recipes
The Great Debate: Sweet Enough?
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Food & Recipes Food & Recipes
The Great Debate: Sweet Enough?
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Lauren Murdoch-Smith looks at the arguments why parents should keep sugar at bay: Sugar.  A word when associated with young children that has a strong reaction, a bit like the bottle or breastfeeding debate; divided.
  Every parent has an opinion and every parent will be judged, whatever their stance on it.  I never set out to ban sugar with my children but once weaning began with my first baby Sebastian, both my husband and I felt strongly about a no sugar policy. Yes, there’s the odd occasion you can’t plan for or you’re not around to monitor what he’s offered, but on the whole his diet is free from refined sugar.  He even calls chocolate “adult food”.  Playdates and parties are becoming increasingly difficult.

Often I’m the only parent to say no to cake and juice which is frequently met with baffled faces and commiseration for Sebastian who sometimes looks disappointed.  This makes me feel like a mean and overly strict parent, but it lasts all of a couple of seconds because he doesn’t have the addiction yet.  He doesn’t recall the sugar hit so he moves on to running around and playing.  I admit when Sebastian shares his nursery day with me and the delight he expresses when he has joined in with his classmates in having toasted marshmallows at Forest Camp (something which happened without my consent, but that’s another story) is both heart warming and wrenching.  His reaction of jumping up and down with a huge grin on his face whilst telling me about it fills me with joy and dread.  But it’s actually this reaction that makes sugar restriction important.  Obviously there are the short and long-term health benefits but for Sebastian, sugar is actually a treat. 

‘He appreciates the experience, motivating me to stick to what I think is best, for him.’
 He does get to enjoy healthier, sweet snacks, he eats plenty of fruit, he’s addicted to our homemade Vitamix smoothies (I know this sounds ridiculous), I made fruit pureés when he was younger and he loves the Bear Yo-Yo snacks.  To him, they’re the best treat of all. Being sugar aware is not only benefitting his well-being, it’s teaching him about moderation, appreciation and consideration and that’s why we’ll also try and keep Sybil, our daughter, sugar free too.   

Lauren Murdoch-Smith, Mama to Sebastian, 3, and Sybil, almost 1

@laurenmurdochsmith

Georgia Day explains why, for her, a little something doesn’t hurt:

First things first: just because I believe that a little sugar doesn’t hurt kids, I don’t let them gorge on sweets from morning till night. It’s just that I believe in everything in moderation – a lifestyle mantra that goes for myself as much as them. As soon as kids are old enough, they start having play dates and going to parties. Where, unless you’re lucky enough to be pals with Gwyneth Paltrow at the school gates, there will be cakes, biscuits, ice cream, sweets, the lot (fun-size bags of Haribo and party bags go together like eggs and bacon). My logic is that my kids are going to be exposed to sugar at some point early on in their lives whether I like it or not, so why not wise them up to it on my own terms, before they binge on it and it becomes ‘a thing’ the first time they do taste it.  

‘A big part of it is also that sense of conforming, which I believe is really important in the early, formative years of children’s lives.’
When you’re a kid there’s potential to be teased about everything from the colour of your hair to the type of shoes you wear; why throw an extra issue into the ring because they’re the only one in their class who’s not allowed to eat birthday cake?

I also believe that indulging in a bit of cake or a pain au chocolat every now and then is not only a necessary little treat, it’s a childhood rite of passage. Some of my happiest childhood memories involve the cosy warmth of delicious food; whether it’s ice creams on a beach or being allowed to choose a bun for elevenses with my mum during half term – a ritual I happily recreate with my kids now. Somehow telling them they can choose between an apple and a bag of Carrot Puffs doesn’t quite have the same ring as a jam doughnut or custard Danish…

Georgia Day, Mama to Edie, 4, and Arlo, 1

@georgialday

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