Sweet like sugar
17 June 2022

Sweet like sugar

Bunny came home from school last week and asked why her friend got sweets after school but she didn’t. We explained how all families have their beliefs and ways of doing things and that ours is that sweets should be a treat, not just part of her everyday diet.

Which got us into a discussion about how often we’d had sweets when we were children. And then about how frequently sugar was added to food and drinks. Breakfast cereal always had sugar sprinkled on it, and when we started drinking tea, we initially had it with sugar. But sweets were a treat, reserved for weekends or special occasions, certainly not everyday.

With the benefit of hindsight and better awareness, as well as the knowledge that sugar is extremely prolific in children’s diets nowadays, we don’t add sugar to breakfast cereal for the girls if the ingredients already list it, and avoid giving them sugary drinks at all, preferring to stick with water and milk as much as possible while we still have done control. Sugar is everywhere – even in savoury foods, where you’d least expect it.

Bear tucks into some cake

Yet the sugary snacks still play a big part in their diet – biscuits or cakes, puddings; all a daily feature. And already the expectation is there. Dinner is always followed by dessert, if mum and mummy have a cup of tea mid-morning or mid-afternoon, then there will be biscuits, or if mummy’s been baking, cake! Days at the beach always include ice creams, a visit to our favourite soft play wouldn’t be the same without one of their fairy cakes each. We always take cake or sweets to share with playdates and bribery usually takes the form of the promise of sweets to come. Nanna and Granpa always, always have treats – but luckily only visit from France every couple of months!

So the sugar has made its way into our children’s lives, despite our best intentions. However, we would much rather that than the alternative of ‘sugar-free’ or ‘no added sugar’ that has become the buzzword for children’s food and drink products. While there may be no real sugar in the product, there is very likely to be a chemical version – most commonly known as aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose or saccharin. Nearly all fruit squash drinks contain them, even the ‘Hi-Juice’ versions that claim to have more juice in them. All those low-calorie yoghurts – they contain them. And guess what, so do all the medicines we are encouraged to give our children when they’re sick.

Artificial sweeteners aren’t recommended for children under four. Yet, they’re deemed safe for human consumption by our own government. However, there are far too many scare stories out there about them for me to ever feel comfortable going near them. (For example, aspartame is said to become formaldehyde when heated.) The internet is naturally full of disputes about the safety of these sweeteners – but we prefer to err on the side of our children’s best interests and choose not to trust claims that chemical replacements are better for our children than their non-chemical counterparts. So we avoid anything with artificial sweetener in it. Just in case.

Bear has her mummys sweet tooth

And we still have regular battles over their sugar consumption. Which makes us total hypocrites as we are both total addicts ourselves! But I didn’t hit the addiction until I started senior school and had my own money to spend, so if I can stave theirs off until then, I’ll have done well! Although, the fact that Bear starts requesting biscuits as soon as she finishes breakfast, doesn’t bode well!!

Interestingly, while I was writing this post, Liska, at New Mum Online, published a post about the effect giving her son a Fruit Shoot had on his behaviour and physical state. Well worth a read.

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