Just when I posted about how well my son MeMe was doing, he had a class party in school. Whenever he tells me he’s having a part as a reward for finishing a big chunk of material, I take a deep breath and inwardly sigh. I know what’s coming. Each of the 30 students bring in some kind of candy or chips, one package for each of their classmates.
In the past MeMe has brought home an entire shopping bag full of sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, MSG, and preservatives. Not my favorite thing! And for good reason.
When MeMe was 6 years old we had an kinesiologist examine him. The kinesiologist was checking out the strength of each of MeMe’s vital organs and then suddenly said: “Sugar and chemicals in food such as preservatives, artificial flavors, and coloring are like poison for him.”
That was the first I ever heard of it. I grew up on candy. I was the skinny kid who could eat whatever I wanted and never gained weight, never got lower than an A on a test, always had perfect teeth, nothing affected me. (Not anymore though!)
When I heard the kinesiologist’s words, we instantly went cold turkey. I didn’t buy too much junk food to begin with, but from then on I checked every single label on every single product before putting it into my shopping cart. I also started buying healthier alternatives that MeMe could have, and when he brought home taffies and wafers and BBQ potato chips from school birthday parties, we traded. I gave him from my healthier treats stash and he took his unhealthy treats and put them in the trash, no complaints.
As he got older and started to read, he learned to recognize the term: “Original Flavor” on chips and popcorn. Before that he had to rely on knowing the color of the bag, red was for BBQ, green means onion-garlic, blue is Original Flavor, and he went for the blue. Now when he goes shopping for himself to the nearby local store, he knows what to stay away from. I should start teaching him how to recognize MSG and artificial flavors and colors.
In school it was a little tricky since the teachers give out little candies every so often for students who do well in their studies, and MeMe was always the model student. I sent a healthier alternative treat stash to each teacher and they agreed to give MeMe reward treats only from his own stash. Many times MeMe told me about how his classmates liked his treats better than what the teacher was giving them.
Back to Sugar. MeMe had a class party just recently (or so it seemed to me) and I hadn’t yet finished trading with him all of those candies. I hadn’t given the healthier alternatives to him immediately because I was trying to stretch out his sugar intake over a decent period of time.
Anyway, I recognize that no child wants to be at a party where everyone consumes sugar by the pound, except for him. I would never do that to my child. So I had to give in and at the same time try and avoid as much damage as possible.
Here’s what I did: I gave him two ziploc bags. In one I put a small applesauce cup (unsweetened), some gluten-free cookies, some chocolate, a few organic candies, and a 100% juice box. The other ziploc bag I left empty and told him he can trade by himself in school- the treats he can’t have and that he wants to trade he should put in the empty ziploc bag. For every treat he puts in the empty bag, he can take one from the full ziploc bag. I also sent in 30 organic lollipops for him to hand out to his classmates.
I know not every child would follow these instructions, they’d just eat what they want, but I trust MeMe because he has always shown that he’s careful about what he eats. I knew I was allowing him too much sugar in one day, but I didn’t know how to avoid it.
The class party was Thursday, I seriously didn’t recognize him afterwards. I was about to cancel my last blog post about how well MeMe was doing and say that I got it all wrong, his behavior is as crazy as ever. I decided to give him a few days and see what happens. It took until Sunday, and he was back to himself.
I had a little unplanned talk with him afterwards. We saw the effects of sugar and he agreed that instead of him eating or trading the rest of his candies from his class party, I’ll give him it’s money value. I owe him $3.50 but I don’t care. Better that he buy himself a small toy or a food that isn’t sugary than he wreak havoc on himself. I did tell him than he can have one organic candy each day, knowing that in actuality he will have far less than that, maybe one a week.
I know there are conflicting studies about whether or not sugar causes hyperactivity, but I’m not about to wait until science makes up its mind. I can see it in my child, it’s clear as day.
Two more things I should add here, my other kids also don’t eat the sugary, colorful junk. And if once in a while they want to, I allow them to without even blinking. If it’s a particularly large candy or MSG snack-pack, I suggest to them lightly that perhaps they only want to taste it and not eat the whole thing. 99% of the time they take one bite and throw the rest out, telling me they don’t like it. That’s when I relish in my victory because I know I’ve trained my kids’ tastebuds to like healthy and not sugary-salty-chemical flavors. Now if only we can continue like this!
What are your thoughts? Share your sugar stories! 🙂