breaking up (with sugar) is hard to do (sponsored)

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We've always been a water family. Even at parties, my kids passed on juice boxes. Mainly because they had no experience with them. I was pretty adamant about keeping them out of the house from the get. If the kids wanted juice? Then they best be juicing the fruit themselves.  Okay, so not really, but the labels on every single juice box I've ever seen are startling. And for whatever reason, those were the labels I was obsessing over, ignoring the fact that we had apple sauces of every flavor and yogurt to go thingamathings all over our fridge. Not to mention our daily smoothie habit, which was becoming not only increasingly expensive, but costly in the WAYTOOMUCHSUGARDONOTNEED department. A part of me knew this, of course, but was having so much fun with my kids sipping smoothies on curbs, people watching, that I made no mind.

That was until three months ago. 

It started with my mom's "cut any and all sugar from the diet" diet, which her doctor recommended because of her autoimmune disease. She was telling me how hard it's been because there's sugar in everything now. EVERYTHING. Apparently, in the 90s when everything went "lowfat" it ALSO went "highsugar" so trying to cut sugars these days is pretty near impossible. Not that I'm trying to cut sugars entirely but HOLY GROSS, REFRIGERATOR. THIRTY TWO grams of sugar in a small yogurt? What the... (Here's a great sugar-in-yogurt comparison.)

Hal and I spent one evening going one by one through the contents of our cupboard and fridge, weeding out all of the high sugar items and it was shocking. Even our mainly "organic, non processed" foods were full of added sugars.  I'm sorry but there's absolutely no excuse for a "snack" to have more sugar than a "treat." I mean, when your lunchables have more sugar in them than a big ol bowl of ice cream? Yeah, no

And to be clear, I'm 100% on board with treats. Sugary sweet treats are totally invited to this party. Moderation is key and I don't want to deprive my kids of all of the wonderful desserts life has to offer. The kids get a treat every day when they come home from school (I don't pack a treat in their lunch) and if they eat all their veggies at dinner, they can have a treat then as well. But now when they ask for snacks, I've made a point to keep it on the no/low sugar side, fresh fruit permitting.

Breaking habits of daily (VERY SWEET) yogurts and regular smoothie runs isn't something that comes easily, especially when trying to explain why to a child. I don't want my kids to become obsessed with caloric intake and label reading but at the same time, I want them to understand that certain foods do far more hurt than help. And that learning to stay away from them is pertinent to leading a healthy lifestyle. 

We've become so PC about weight and fearful of eating disorders that even broaching the topic of calories with our children feels... sticky. Even now, I find myself muttering under my breath "too much sugar, sorry kids" instead of confidently proclaiming GROSS! THIS STUFF IS TERRIBLE FOR YOUR BODY! HOW IS THIS LEGAL? HOW HAS IT TAKEN ME THIS LONG TO REALIZE HOW TERRIBLE THIS STUFF IS!?? 

It's criminal how much sugar we're feeding our children. But even more criminal, how hard it is not to.   Even the names for sugar have evolved to trick us further. Evaporated cane juice? Still sugar. Unrefined, yes. But still sugar.

So now as a family, we talk about it. We talk about what is appropriate snack food. If the kids want yogurt or a box juice or a sugar cereal then they can have it as a dessert option after lunch or dinner.

And those walks to get smoothies? Once or twice a month instead of daily. A special treat for the kids and for me and surprisingly, everyone's cool with it. (I've lost almost all my baby weight these last two months because I've been paying closer attention to my sugar intake. I'm actually typing this post while wearing pre-pregnancy jeans I never thought I'd fit into again. Not because of any crash diet or insane exercise program but because I've cut WAY down on my sugar intake aka smoothies.)

It's a process, for sure, and I'm in no way the perfect food mom person. My kids' favorite foods are still pizza and macaroni and cheese (both containing sugar!) which I refuse to deprive them of entirely. Moderation is, as they say, key. And sugar is, as we all know, delicious.

Still, there are plenty of ways to cut back on sugar intake without deprivation and I'm sorry it took me this long to get serious about it.

Besides, it's just as fun to people watch without the smoothie.


Natasha | 10:44 AM

i know! i know! i know! I need to cut out the sugar in my life too and I have been avoiding it. I know it's what's keeping these last post-baby-pounds on. Damn! why'd you have to write this! Now I need to do something about it.

Cindy | 10:50 AM

I did that cleansing diet with the no sugar, nor gluten, no alcohol, no animal products, and no something else I can't remember. The hardest part about the diet was buying foods. Sugar and gluten are in EVERYTHING! After this, I got a little crazy about label reading. It took us hours to grocery shop because I'd read everything that went into the cart.

Yeah...moderation. Moderation and balance is the key to everything. I've now channeled that obsession onto something else and am happy to report that I am a speedier grocery shopper.

Lia | 10:56 AM

I point out to my kids that if they want to grow taller they have to eat food that is good for their bodies otherwise they might just grow wider :) I use my arms to show the difference and my kids 5 and 2 year old love it and mimic me.

Adrianne | 10:59 AM

"It's criminal how much sugar we're feeding our children. But even more criminal, how hard it is not to."

YES! This. I find myself becoming more and more angry at how difficult it is to feed your kids well. It's so easy for everyone to blame the parents, but we're up against a huge and very wealthy food industry that has no interest in making us any healthier.

My kid is only 11.5 months old. I shouldn't be fighting this battle yet. But here I am. Hating what they serve at the daycare and at a loss for what I can send her from home. I was appalled to see that even the BABY yogurt has added sugar! So I bought plain and added my own pureed fruits. My baby eats it happily. Why the added sugar?! Grrr....can you tell I'm passionate about this issue? :)

Arnebya | 11:03 AM

Our home is slave to Caprisun. It is an evil beast. I don't even know the level of sugar as compared to other juices; that's not my point. I'm saying that we just drink too much of it. Period. Even if it's the lowest sugar content having kids' juice box, THERE IS TOO MUCH. We have been on a drink more water kick lately, though, so we'll see how it goes weaning them off the juice. We talk so much with the girls and they're always so open to trying new things that the only problem is really with the boy who, at 2, pretty much runs the house. My 9 yr old is kind of a label reader, though (sometimes this is good; sometimes this is very very bad because screw you, Fruit Loops!).

You're right. Moderation is key. While I have no intention of removing juice or sugar entirely from our diet, we are lessening consumption of it. And, it's a perk of being the parent. They can't get it if we don't buy it, so there.

Anonymous | 11:05 AM

I've been reading labels a lot lately, too, and I realized that I had a wee bit of a sodium problem. Out of the blue, I stopped eating packaged food (my go to for lunch at the office) and voila, weight is flying off of me! Go figure!

Anonymous | 11:12 AM

A post after my own heart. I am totally with you on treats are treat thing. Sneaky sugar in kid foods has got to be one of my greatest pet peeves. I know how addicted I am to the white stuff as an adult and I really fear what that means for my kids since they get SO MUCH on a daily basis (way more than I am sure I got as a kid).

Unknown | 11:22 AM

Im currently reading a "diet" book described as a healthy eating book. I'm taking the good advice out of it and appreciating it for what it is because I've never been on a diet...and don't plan to start one now. But anyway....the one things that really stuck with me was a comment about "neutral foods" and how they don't exist. There are foods that make you healthier...and foods that make you unhealthier. That is no neutral. So you need to ask yourself "is this food good for my body or bad."

When I'm eating the bad food I just forget to ask myself the question lol

But I still thought it was an important and critical point to make.

Martha | 11:33 AM

My husband and I heard that NPR interview in the car on a road trip once and it was super enlightening. Especially the quote about how we (as a nation) have reduced our fat intake by 30 to 40% but our sugar consumption has gone up and obesity and metabolic disorders have skyrocketed. That was incredibly enlightening for me! After hearing that and the interview on NPR with the woman who wrote about how French people eat, we've all but eliminated breakfast cereals from our house. They are expensive and sugar filled. We mostly eat oatmeal for breakfast now, or have eggs from time to time.

Unknown | 11:47 AM

oh, I love this post. Seriously. We shop (relatively) well and if we eat sugar it's in moderation and the bestest kind. The only thing I"m having a hard time quitting (gluten was relatively easy to quit), is sugar in my coffee. I love my 3 cups a day and I love it sweet. So I'm now getting the smallest size coffee available (and throwing out all of our huge mugs at home). And still I feel that this is one happy indulgence that I'll be giving up soon.

We didn't grow up in North America, so we never really got used to eating many of the traditional "american" foods. We still always pack our lunches and make 95% of all of our own meals from scratch. Nothing pre-packaged goes into our meals. Only raw fruits/veggies/meats and spices.

But I will be more on the lookout now. I'm sure there's plenty of room for improvement.

jenifer | 12:17 PM

So true! Since becoming pregnant I cut out all refined sugars. We still use organic local honey, pure organic maple syrup in flavoring our plain yogurts. I also only bake with organic coconut palm sugar or stevia. That agave syrup is just as toxic as corn syrup so we've discovered and have cut that out as well. I am 8 months pregnant and feel amazing and haven't gained much at all which I contribute to a great diet (and moderate exercise!) Gus is 8 but juice and sweets were something we didn't even introduce until way late. He had his first soda a few months ago and I was bummed but we talk, he knows and is pretty well educated on foods and what we put in our bodies without all the body image issues that can go along with it. Its hard, especially living where we do. I am hoping I will get just as lucky with my baby girl as I have with him in the food area and ensure a healthy understanding for her without that body image/obsessive thing that can go along with it. And dude, sugar is really a poison to the body!

MrsB | 12:28 PM

Sugar is Evil :) I was sugar free from 1 January until my 4-week holiday in July and am now back to avoiding sugar as much as I can. Eating sugar makes me so moody and bloated AND without it I don't have 'fat days'. It's difficult with the kiddlets though - I just made my own chocolate today (with stevia) and they liked it so I'll definitely look into making more stuff at home.

Anonymous | 12:31 PM

I have been spending a lot of time trying to get rid of sugar, but more than that trying to find moderation and get rid of all the requests. I have tried educating and explaining, but when you are surrounded by it at school, birthday parties, stores, the gas station, everywhere!!!! I feel like I end up having to say NO all the time. You see, the educating and being team players works sometimes, but sometimes the desire to fit in, or even be in control seems to be more important to one of my kids, so much so that he claims he is growing up to aspire to get to use the soda machines as much as possible. I get it, it is fun to feel in charge of operations. So, grow a garden, cook, etc, we do all that, I grew up in healthy communities, but still it matters where you live and how much you want to be out and about. If we lived in France where your neighbors, teachers, friends, family and government were all on board, you wouldn't fear you were isolating or judging your classmates in order to be healthier...and even if it is true and right, I don't want my son saying "you will get diabetes or be obese or unhealthy"...he got that from a friend's mom...what do you pack for lunch and do you allow any or as much fruit as desired?

Anonymous | 12:41 PM

I eat a diet of about 50% raw food diet. What isn't raw I make from scratch. The key for me is to cook one day a week with the big items (chicken, fish, lamb - whatever) and starches and then I only have to make small things during the week. Still have a weakness for frozen pizza & spanakopita but I figure if I got the main part figured out then that's A-OK with me.

Mad Max and Family | 12:46 PM

Great post, and OMG I love that photo - their fashion and hair cuts so adorable.

My family went plant-strong several years ago. Hardly any processed food at all in the house (although the ones that are processed are probably mine!)... my son (19 months) has a plant-diet and almost no processed food. But you're right - it's hard to avoid it! Sugar is everywhere. I do let him cheat at birthday parties ...and snack time at some of our Mommy and Me events (most people bring fruit but also bring processed food).


glenda | 12:51 PM

Yes! Sugar is Evil! I've cut sugar out a lot. I will still indulge in a treat in moderation.

I'm happy for you that you're back to your pre-baby jeans! Go mama! :)

Lori | 1:17 PM

Sugar really is EVIL for sure. Tumors grow and feed on sugar. When a cancer patient goes for a PET scan they fill them with a super sugary substance because the sugar goes right to the tumor area, which allows the doctors to see changes in the tumor. If that doesn’t scream “get away from sugar”, I don’t know what does. Since every time we turn around someone we know is dying of cancer we are all better off without it.

Sugar is considered Acidic. Read this about acid vs. alkaline:

"The human body is a naturally alkaline environment. When an individual consumes an overly acidic diet, they throw off their body’s healthy pH balance, which makes them susceptible for illness and disease. In fact, when the body’s pH balance is too acidic, an individual is at an elevated risk of suffering from heart disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases."

I actively test my pH balance and it’s something everyone should do. You can buy pH test kits on line that are as simple as peeing on a stick that turns yellow if you acidic or green if you are alkaline. It’s a good way to keep your body in check. And, you can find lists of acid vs. alkaline foods online that will help guide you to the more alkaline foods for better balance.

Here is a good quote I like to remind myself of and I think someone above sort of mentioned this but not verbatim:

"Every time you eat or drink you are either feeding disease or fighting it" - Heather Morgan, MS, NLC

Thank you for the important and informative post. More people should be removing sugar from their diet. We live in a culture of soda drinking sugar addicts. All the commercials during kids’ shows are for sugary cereals and we have entire holidays based on eating sugar. It’s a mad mad world we live in where we are enticing children at a young age to get hooked on sugar and stay hooked. Yet, sugar is cancer fuel. Makes you think deeply about our society and the role corporations, government and healthcare play in our daily lives.

Molly | 1:20 PM

In terms of how to veer away from sugar without making kids fearful of food/giving them issues with it, I like the idea of trying to stay positive. Rather than focusing on, "that's bad," just turning their attention to, hey this carrot is awesome! greek yogurt with honey (instead of the to-go pre-sugared yogurt) is awesome! thanks for pointing out how much sugar was in my yogurt--sheesh.


@Molly Really good point! You're totally right, thank you!

Unknown | 2:01 PM

I gave up sugar 6 weeks ago and am only now reintroducing small amounts. I wish I'd done it years ago. I feel so much better, have much more energy and am sleeping so well. The momentary pleasure of eating sugary food just isn't worth the negative impact it has. I won't be going back :-)

Cave Momma | 2:10 PM

My daughter has THEE biggest sweet tooth ever so I have had to be very careful with what I feed her so she doesn't get used to just sweet foods, regardless of how healthy they can be. So sugar was cut out a while ago. Very little processed foods come into my house and even when I bake it's with very little (raw) sugar or honey. I hate that our foods aren't safe anymore unless we grow them ourselves. It makes me mad and sad for my future and more so my kids' future.

Caitlin | 2:22 PM

This is an important post, and the conversation in the comments is so great. I love the idea that foods either help your body or harm. It reminds me of this quote by Hippocrates: "Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food."

Never has that rung more true for me than now: I'm currently in the midst of an allergy elimination diet, and HOO BOY. I'm married to a chef, food is important to us, we eat locally, etc etc BUT. This has forced me to carefully consider absolutely everything I put in my body and it's been really eye-opening. I mean, even when you think you eat healthy!
I literally feel better than I have in years and it's reminding me just how important this all is. (And again, I thought I DID know!)

This diet has also helped me drop some weight (and tons of bloat and fat days, as someone else mentioned), and Rebecca I've wondered about your weight loss experience this time. I know it's something you've written about before, both with this pregnancy and your others, and I'd love to hear about it. It's inspiring to me.

Kim | 2:47 PM

Love the title of your post. I am in the midst of a complete, hard line in the sand break up. I read It Starts with Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, and it changed the way I lok at and chhose my food. You can find them at Their friend wrote a cookbook, Well Fed, that has made me a more adventurous cook. It also included a great plan for cooking and prepping ahead.

Good luck with your family endeavor. Slay that sugar dragon (as they say at Whole 9)!

The Beckster | 3:23 PM

I read your blog post and I think yes, yes, yes. But I also get totally discouraged. I live in the Northwest and everyone around me is obsessed with gluten free, vegetarian, organic, home made, free range, locally grown everything. In theory, I think that's great. But I wasn't raised to have any concept of how that works, I'm one of seven kids and my parents put pasta and canned veggies on the table for dinner and we were happy to have something to eat.

I constantly feel like a failure as a mom because no matter how much I "know" about healthy eating, it's a concept largely lost on me. My husband and I work full time (meaning 50-60 hours a week) we both travel for work, and we have a 3 month old and a 3 year old. We have parents who will feed them any and all kinds of sugar at any time and neither one of us are good cooks.

I see your mom's recipes listed once a week on GGC but I think to myself -- if this takes more than 5 minutes to make and / or more than 2 ingredients, it's probably not going to happen. I want so much to teach my kids the healthy eating habits I never developed, and I know with a little planning and lot of will -- it can be done on probably almost any budget, schedule, etc so I'm not saying that it can't be done in my situation (and I know you do it and are crazy busy as well) BUT it doesn't stop me from feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of turning all of our shopping, eating, cooking habits around to make it happen.

So, I guess after this long rambling comment -- what I am asking is: will you write a post or do you know a good blogger who describes exactly HOW one goes about providing healthy snacks and meals each day, on the go? Do you have a routine down? Do you pre-make all your food once a week? Do you plan meals or just keep healthy food in the house? Or are there other moms out there reading this who have a good system?

Anonymous | 3:33 PM

The Beckster, I want to know too! All my childhood veggies came from a can.

Tracey C. | 4:37 PM

So, I agree with all of this, but I am confused on one point...the smoothies. Why did you guys cut them out? We make so many smoothies at home, but they are great! Is it the fruit you are staying away from? We DO use lots of fruit, so maybe this is why you avoid them now. But there are so many benefits to fruit! We freeze bananas, add a big handful of spinach leaves, toss in a cup or so of berries (sometimes its mango and pineapple though!), add some (unsweet, right?)almond milk or soymilk (which you can freeze in ice cube trays to add a creamier consistency)and blend like crazy! I do use a VitaMix blender, which is amazing, but I think regular would work fine, just be a bit chunkier. You can use greek yogurt, honey, other fruit, carrots, ground flax seeds, even dry rolled oats with a powerful blender..they are like a power meal in a cup, and my kids LOVE them! The bananas REALLY sweeten the smoothies by the way! Thanks for the great read, it's very encouraging! Blessings...

Little Gray Pixel | 4:52 PM

Great post and great comments! I, like the Beckster, would like to know more about your daily habits and what you eat/how you plan ahead.

Planning is the worst.

Plus, my 18-month-old seems to be hungry ALL.the.TIME. I can't keep up with her, and I feel guilty feeding her blueberries for a snack all the time. I need more recipes, I guess.

Jennifer | 5:36 PM

This is very timely for me. I am on my 40th day being sugar free. I did an on-line 30 day sugar free challenge, and loved it so much I just kept going. I've lost 10 lbs and haven't had indigestion once (used to get it every night. I am hoping I can keep this up for the long haul.

Anonymous | 5:44 PM

Totally agree with you on both the "how bad sugar is" part and the "how hard it is to cut it out" part. I succeeded for a while, but then got too crazy and pendulum swung to ice cream everyday! AHH trying to get back to the middle of moderation and low/no sugar most days. Thanks for the inspiration!

Sarah | 6:22 PM

So so true! Too much sugar abounds! Great job lowering your family's consumption - you are right that it's a real challenge.

The Beckster and Anonymous -
I'm sure Bec can and might definitely give you lots of pointers on the whole transition-to-healthy-eating business, but in the meantime you could check out:
This blog is written by a mom of two who took on a challenge to eliminate processed foods from her family's diet for 100 days, and now it's a way of life for her. There are lots of great ideas for easy ways to incorporate real foods, ideas for snacks and kids' lunches, etc.

Rebecca @ Sink or Swim | 7:43 PM

As an alternate viewpoint I have been trying to eliminate waste in our house, no more individually wrapped school snacks, juice boxes, etc. I like my kids to have zero trash when they are done eating lunch at school. This has dramatically increased the amount of 'real' food they take, more fruit and veggies, generally they take some V8 fusion in a thermos, we make our own lunchables at home and granola bars or bites. I go back and forth between Paleo and forks over knives, but generally we try to eat REAL food. Our family of four creates about 1 kitchen trash bag every week and I'm trying to get better!

Margie S | 8:21 PM

Thank you once again for bringing up something so many of us have had in the back of our minds (I have had in the back of my mind), and giving me the push to really take a close look and make any necessary changes. I'm pretty scared of what I'm going to find, but I'm going to look anyway knowing you've got my back :)

ChefSara | 9:01 PM

I think you're on the right track. I agree with the moderation. My son's preschool was great about introducing the concept of "growing foods" and we've stuck with that. He knows that he needs to eat his growing foods to grow big and strong, and the foods that aren't growing foods are only treats for special occasions. I try to keep snacks "no sugar added." Apple sauce and juice are sweet enough, they don't need added sugar. I'd rather train my kids taste buds to not expect things to be overly sweet, then to have to break habits down the road. So, my son can have some NSA juice with breakfast, and gets a choice of milk or water for other meals, and if he's thirsty, he drinks water between meals. He doesn't expect anything else. Dessert is fruit. Rarely anything else. So again, he doesn't expect it. I'm hoping it will become a habit to eat like this. Cake and ice cream at a birthday party doesn't bother me because it's such a rare treat. It's when it's a daily habit that it's a problem. so yeah, treats on occasion, with lots of emphasis on "growing foods" :-)

Megatron | 11:10 PM

Great comments on this post! I am looking forward to looking up some of the links from readers. I just wanted to add that Michael Pollen's book In Defense of Food is really informative and interesting to read. There are a lot of tips in there for healthy eating, but my fave is to only shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Everything in the center is usually processed. It's an easy guideline to follow! Way to go on dropping the baby weight!

Erin | 4:50 AM

I always love your super common sense approach to things. What kinds of snacks have you guys been having these days?

Unknown | 4:53 AM

It's ironic that just last week, at 27 years old my doctor informed me that I'm on the road to Type 2 Diabetes if I don't cut most sugar out of my diet and start focusing on eating better. As someone who grows their own vegetables, cooks most meals at home, and has already been watching my weight, I was shocked to see the hidden truth on the foods we've been loving. Two weeks into it and I've lost 6 lbs. CRAZY!

Janet | 5:58 AM

Have you tried making homemade smoothies? Just stick in a few ice-cubes, your favourite fruits, a little freshly squeezed OJ, plain yogurt and milk. Yummy! My son's favourite kind is peanut butter/banana. You can use unsweetened natural PB. The banana acts as the sweetener.

Amanda | 6:20 AM

As someone mentioned above forks over knives is a great documentary. Also Im reading the primal blueprint and it is great for explaining why sugar is not good for you. Eliminating most of the crazy amount of sugar we consume helps you lose weight, control mood swings and keep you healthy.

Jen | 6:59 AM

We have been going through a (nearly) sugarless diet. As little added sugars as possible and trying to avoid processed foods also. Trips to the grocery store have gone from a quick in-and-out to FOREVER! Fortunately we belong to a CSA, so that takes care of some of our food, but I am shocked at how much we are chucking from the diet. And when we do eat out from necessity, the taste of the food is now different. The sweet is sweeter, the salt is like "woah!" and everything is just so much overseasoned and overmuch. I'll stick with the tree-ripened peach I'm munching on as I'm typing right now, thanks:) And our 5 year-old son is slowly adjusting...fingers crossed!

LauraH | 7:21 AM

I'm 37 weeks pregnant today (YAY FULL TERM!), and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 28 weeks.

Since my diagnosis, my boyfriend and I have cut many refined sugars, and grains, and many other things, out of our diets.

It is so strange, because I haven't gained an ounce of weight since my diagnosis, but baby is measuring in the 92nd percentile, and at 35.5 weeks was estimated at weighing 7.5 lbs. I eat a lot more fat and protein, and I don't feel that sugar crash like I used to, probably because I cut it out of my diet.

I wonder how many people, if they were to monitor their blood sugars after meals, would find that their blood glucose levels were spiked. I cannot drink milk, eat cereal, eat any sort of flours (I'm gluten intolerant on top of everything), and sometimes I just want something sweet so bad.

I've found that the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks give me horrible heartburn, and just

A better alternative, I've found, is stevia. That stuff rocks, doesn't have the negative correlations that other artificial sugars have, has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, and you don't need much to sweeten. Try making smoothies at home with greek yogurt (I love Chobani), fresh fruit, and a packet or two of stevia. It works, it's delicious, and hey, you've just cut over 50% of your sugar intake, while still giving yourself that awesome smoothie fix.

Like Rebecca said, when many of the food manufacturers went "Low fat", they pumped up the carbs in everything.

Not even "good" sugars are all that good. 1 Tbsp. of Honey has 17.3 grams of sugars (that is an entire carb choice!), 1 Tbsp. of Agave nectar isn't too much better, coming in at a whopping 16g of sugars (once again, an entire carb choice!)

As frustrating as it is, I've found one of the easiest ways to cut sugars out of my diet was to go on a strict diabetes diet, where 1 carb choice is equal to 15 grams of carbs. I've been limited to 120-210 grams of carbs per day, and I feel much better health wise. It sucks, because you are constantly weighing food, reading labels, etc., especially being gluten intolerant as well, but eating like this has given me the ability to manage my gestational diabetes through diet alone, and that, my friends, makes this mama one happy lady.

Very Bloggy Beth | 8:30 AM

I made that cardinal parenting mistake with my first son and when he was 18 months old or so, started giving him watered down juice in his sippy cup. Watered way down, but still, juice. And now that he's 4, it's as if I'm pulling his toes off with pliers if I dare ask him to drink a cup of water. BIG mistake, and won't be making it with the 2nd guy, due very soon.

I know what you mean about sugar being in absolutely goddamn everything. And I lament it each morning as I push the little container of yogurt at my son at the breakfast table. I try to find the products with the least amount of sugar, and we really avoid HFCS at all costs, but still, sugar is there. There's sugar in his beloved ketchup, for Pete's sakes. What can I do about that?!

And we are also big fans of the "everything in moderation" course of action, but so many people aren't. Living in San Francisco, there are a lot of people around us who take a more "NONE of this, NONE of that, ONLY this" route. Not that I judge them for "depriving" their kids or anything, that is their choice. But, when I give my son a couple of sips of root beer at the park, and get totally shocked expressions from people completely ignoring my son's healthy lunch of scrambled eggs, edamame, artichoke hearts and cheddar cheese, well then we've got a problem. I want the same non-judgment I give them, is that too much to ask?

Great post. It is amazing how sugar-dependent our society really has become. I'll never forget when I was desperately thirsty at a train station, and bought a Sunny-D out of said desperation, and noticed on the label that there was more HFCS in the product than any actual fruit juice. Been a label reader ever since.

Anonymous | 9:29 AM

I am assuming you spent at least $10/day on smoothies and I secretly judged you for it. It did seem really excessive, and I am glad you feel healthier for cutting it out!

Anonymous | 10:26 AM

How do you feel about lactose and fructose?
Some of the foods you mentioned have sugar those naturally occurring sugars. Like if you made homemade, from-scratch pizza, the cheese and tomatoes have lactose and fructose but you didn't add any "real" sugar.

My Name Is Jonas | 10:30 AM

Totally agree re:sugar and especially the insanity of products marketed for kids! BUT I give my kids balkan or greek style yogurt which have no sugar or icky things added, just milk and bacterial culture. We add our own fruit often. They love it, I love it, super healthy and super yum.

Amy | 10:51 AM

I recently completed a Whole30- you eat grass fed meat,chicken and fish, lots of veggies, limited fruits, seed and nuts and healthly oils. NO dairy,grains or beans no added anything and NO SUGAR- not even honey. I was shocked when shopping and actually reading labels that sugar is in EVERYTHING!! Those 30 days proved to be the best thing I could do for myself and my family.I am so much more aware of what I, and they, are eating and how it affects me. I slept better, my skin, hair and nails never looked better. And another great benefit- I lost 11 lbs and 11 inches off this body.

Amy J. | 12:18 PM

My daughter has had Type 1 diabetes since she was three (genetic auto immune disorder, not the kind you get from being overweight...she makes NO insulin and gets four+ shots daily to keep her alive) we watch sugar daily. The cutoff we've used for years for healthy sugar intake in foods is less than 30 grams. You have to realize that sugar is required by human beings. The brain requires is the sole "food" that the brain functions on. If the brain is denied glucose, you will have a seizure, go into a comma and die very quickly. children, whose brains are developing, sugar is needed daily...but, of course, not in excess. Your kids can have juice and yogurt, just by reduced sugar and make sure the sugar is not refined as much as possible. A few snacks daily of under 30 grams of sugar pers serving is perfectly healthy. Also, keep in mind that nearly ALL foods...minue pure protein are converted to sugar by the body. Every fruit and vegetable you eat is converted to sugar in digestion...all breads, all pastas...if it has carbohydrate it is sugar! Sugar is not gets a bad wrap, but it is one of the basic components of each of our bodies and MUCH needed : ).

kerrie | 2:24 PM

I TOTALLY appreciate this post. My almost 3 yr old lives off of waffles and pancakes and fries. I have thought about a serious detox program but every time I start hunting I soon realize....everything has loads of sugar. Can you PLEASE give us a list of your substitutions, and more than just fruit, that is the easy one. I need things that are low sugar, easy to prepare, transportable and yummy! PLEASE! xoxo

Sharon | 3:10 PM

Just the other day I started to feel like I'm losing the battle on sugar in my house. my kids are fantastic eaters who prefer veggies and fruit to protein/carbs but man oh man do they love their sweet treats, sugary snacks and (watered down) juice.
I agree, its incredibly hard to get kids to kick the habit and even harder to find options. like your home, most things I buy are organic and as unprocessed as possible but that doesn't say much for sugar levels...or for what dad occasionally brings home :) i'm trying so hard but it's one hell of a battle.

Anonymous | 12:43 PM

A reality-bites post about something that is so important - well done!!!

Sugar is fine now and again - otherwise it's going to get you - so cut back,

JD | 2:52 PM

There is a fantastic ebook for quitting sugar by an Australian girl called Sarah Wilson. She suffers from an auto immune disease as well. Worth a look
I know her website is


Emma | 1:26 PM

I sometimes feel like the meanest mother in the universe because of my no (well, very limited) sugar stance, so I was very happy to read this post!

One thing I have found, in case anyone else is interested, is that even for cakes and cookies, I can cut the sugar by one-third (and even one-half if there is fruit in the recipe as well) and no one notices. Maybe the adults are too polite to say anything, but the kids - even kids that I know get chocolate, ice creams and lollies on a daily basis - never ever complain. Nor do they complain about my offerings of fruit and air-popped popcorn as snacks, for that matter, when I know my kids get cookies and chocolate at their houses.

Lori | 9:05 AM

This comment is about being JUDGED by other parents or even friends for trying to enact thoughtful parenting:

I have a 14 year old son and for the past 4 years we have worked really hard to eliminate processed foods and sugar as much as possible. One of my past challenges was Halloween. I love the holiday for all it is, except the focus on CANDY. It's maddening to me.

In the beginning I used to limit the amount of candy my son could eat regardless of how much he collected. I didn't want him to eat any. Over the years I have loosened up a bit and now that he is older he is making smarter choices with the amount he eats. Still too much for me, but I have loosened.

I made the mistake of sharing my policing of his candy consumption on Halloween with a friend and ever since then she has called me evil for not allowing my son to enjoy Halloween and she would say things like, “he is only a kid once”. And since I was thinking critically about our sugar consumption and she wasn't, I didn’t appreciate her blas√© thinking that in order to be a kid and enjoy your childhood you have to eat bags of candy until you CRASH. It wasn’t like I was telling him he couldn’t participate in Halloween. I was just saying that it’s not a “free for all” of candy eating.

She is a very traditional person/parent and doesn’t really question status quo much and since we were kids in the 70’s and 80’s….when few people were talking about this topic because we didn’t know better; she is doing what she accustomed to doing and I get that. But I am a firm believer in “once you know better you do better” and I don’t want to be judged by her for participating in “thoughtful parenting” or practicing critical thinking when it comes to my family’s health and well-being. Just as I don’t say to her, “how can you let your kids eat all that candy? Don’t you know how harmful all that sugar is to their little bodies?” or “why do you allow your kids to eat candy before school in the morning?” or I could say, “Well, I think YOU ARE evil and perhaps lazy for not being more mindful of what your kids are eating.” But I just don’t actually go there.

Question: Why is it only okay to call someone evil when they are depriving, but not when they are giving when the giving is not in their best interests?

Blue Gal | 4:14 AM

Love this post! I clicked on every link in it and have started going through my fridge. Very well written. Today I'll listen to the NPR interview. I would have described my family as low sugar consumers, but then realized my son always picks yogurt smoothies or juice as his drink of choice (if given a choice). We will be cutting back on those for sure. Thanks! I forwarded this to a friend as well.

LJ | 1:36 PM

sugar is EVERYWHERE. it's so ridiculous. we went paleo months back and did a WHOLE30 where we cut out all sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes and it gets really difficult to shop. i mean, you do hang out in the produce section the whole time and eat lots of protein, veg and fruit, but we're americans raised on sugar. i survived on bread in high school. that stuff just breaks down into sugar! it's addicting too. sugar is not our friend but treats are so awesome too :)

oh, jenny mae | 5:56 PM

added sugars just kill me. and you're right, it's so hard!! we LOVE yogurt, but a tiny cup of yogurt from trader joe's has 17 grams! now, i know yogurt has natural sugars in it, but it's about 3 grams in its natural state in the same amount as the tjoe's cup. totally crazy. we started making yogurt and adding our own fruit and a bit of honey.

that's just the tip of the iceberg. i could go on forever about it. we try as hard as we can to keep the kids away from it in their normal foods & snacks and save it for treats.

i wish food companies made it easier.