Keeping your family sugar free by Philippa Ross, founder, Sugarfreechildhood
My name is Philippa, I live in London with my husband and two children aged 7 and 5. I’m a television documentary Director and Producer, not a trained nutritionist, although I have completed seven nutrition courses at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. For the last two years have been writing a food blog with sugar free recipes for kids – www.sugarfreechildhood.co.uk.
As a super busy mum in the kitchen, I have years of hands-on experience and a great passion for accessible, fun and practical nutrition. I have appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show and host workshops for people interested in a sugar free lifestyle for their kids.
When people ask me, ‘is it easy to keep a family sugar free’? I always answer the same way – “no but it’s worth it”. My blog is a way of showing how it can be done, how mum’s facing all the modern pressures and stresses of feeding their kids can go sugar free.
To start with some negatives – here’s a list of just a few of the illnesses and deficiencies that sugar causes:
– it causes diabetes
– compromised immunity
– poor memory
– low mood and hyperactivity in kids
– possible link to cancer and cell mutation – causes constipation and bloating
– accelerated external and internal ageing – obesity.
Eager to share recipes and tips on how Mums can make sweet yet nutrient dense food I set up a blog, Sugarfreechildhood. Sure, I’m biased, but my children, 7 and 4 are healthy, sparky, allergy free and inquisitive. They have never known anything different and really understand the benefits of eating healthily and are mindful of basic nutrition without any worry. And that’s true of all the sugar free kids I know.
The bumpy journey to eliminate any artificial sugar from my children’s diets started at the birth of my first son. After seeing and feeling the benefits of having no sugar at all during the last few months of my pregnancy, following Gowri Motha’s Gentle Birth Method, I was intrigued by the incredible benefits.
Moreover, there was no doubt in my mind that sugar had previously played havoc with my gut, mood and hormones. It’s a feeling everyone knows, brought up as kids on sweets and chocolate as rewards and treats.
So for as long as I was in charge of what my kids ate, I was going to try to stop refined sugar being a part of their diet.
Having said that it took several more years before my husband and I decided that we would join the kids and cut out artificial sugar too. The gentle, consistent energy that poured back into our lives along with the lack of highs and lows, as well as incidental weight loss meant that we honestly have not looked back since.
Of course there is a danger of sounding smug, and I have to be careful as sugar is an emotional subject for many of us. But since the success of the blog, people have really started to open up to me about their relationship with sugar and their desire to leave it behind. It exerts a hold on their lives that is so easy to break free from.
A new aspect of the blog that I love running are cooking workshops and morning courses for groups of women who are so keen and curious about cooking without sugar. Grandmothers, Mums, teenage girls – everybody gets so excited about learning to live sugar free.
As a family we are pragmatic when it comes to play-dates or parties. We gently suggest to the kids that they choose the non sugar laden pudding, and often they do. But even now they never eat very much of it.
At home we have zero tolerance for anything with sugar in it and make sure we read labels carefully to sift through the hidden sugars in so many processed foods from the supermarkets.
When I am not working directing documentaries, I love baking and coming up with alternative puddings for the kids to try. There are so many different kinds of sweeteners and with a little imagination, you can always satisfy a sweet tooth without sugar.
Apple juice, dates, honey, coconut palm sugar, brown rice syrup… Honey is always a hit. Anti microbial, antibacterial and anti-fungal, and ridiculously delicious to eat. Maple syrup is another favourite. Rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, we drizzle it over pancakes, stir it into yoghurts and smoothies and mix it into our morning oat porridge.