Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book Review: Little Sugar Addicts by Kathleen DesMaison

Wow! I picked this book up from our local library, intrigued by the title. For years, we've been dealing with the effects of sugar on our oldest child. We try (desperately) to limit sugar, but unless we keep him in seclusion (that includes no grandparents), we simply cannot keep his diet sugar free. This book, Little Sugar Addicts, offers sound advice and is helping all of us (me included) very much.

She begins the book with a quiz, Are you Sugar Sensitive. You can see the quiz on her website, . This alone helped me to see myself in the whole sugar problem. It turns out, our oldest got his sugar sensitivity from me (DesMaisons says its genetic and if a child has it, then at least one parent has it, too). So, now I know that I have to work on myself. I was actually amazed (in a bad way) at the amount of sugar/ carbs I consume in a given day. I knew I consumed alot, and that I craved it, but it was so great to read DesMaison's explanation and to finally understand that it is a sensitivity and not a character flaw that draws me to carbs.

So far, we've really only been working on her first step, but its making a huge difference for our family. The first step is to eat a protein rich breakfast within a hour of getting up in the morning. I was amazed to find that I and my oldest were not eating breakfast or were eating something late morning (usually very full of carbs). Eating within an hour really sets the stage for the rest of the day. DesMaisons recommends starting out slowly and adding protein to the usual breakfast. For us, the kiddos usually want pancakes, oatmeal, grits or french toast. So now, breakfast looks like this: pancakes or french toast, eggs (for me and the youngest - oldest won't eat eggs), sausage or ham, milk and a fruit or veggie (oldest will only eat broccoli, so sometimes we have broc for breakfast). Other days we might have peanut butter and honey sandwhiches with milk and a cheese stick or a chicken and cheese quesadilla. DesMaisons says that its important to first add things (mostly protein and veggies) to their diet, instead of trying to take away sugar. As we all know, forbidden fruit is so sweet, and she demonstrates how when we forbid sugar, we make it much more attractive to our kids and we encourage them to sneak it behind our backs- after all, it is very addictive. Her thoughts are, if we add protein as often as we can, we will begin to help regulate their blood sugar and cut out some of the cravings. I love that she talks about making the changes slowly, so that our children will be able to see and feel the difference and therefore "buy in" to low sugar living.

So, the first step, and what we've been working on is, get them to eat a protein rich breakfast within one hour of waking in the morning. Wow! What a difference - we went from super-grumpy kiddos (and mama, too) who fought me (and each other) on everything, to - well, moderately grumpy kiddos who only fight about half the time. In my book, thats an amazing improvement!

Following our protein rich breakfast, she advises (in subsequent steps) to include protein rich foods at snack and other meal times. Even though we are really working on step one right now, I decided to include as much protein rich foods in their diet as I could. It has been my experience these last few weeks, that when I offer a protein rich snack before they realize they are hungry, they will happily eat it and maintain a more even blood sugar level. Some of our snacks include, a hand full of pecans (their favorite), a spoon of peanut butter (we like Skippy Natural, although it does have sugar), a cheese stick or slice, hummus and whole wheat pita or veggie sticks, herbs and cream cheese spread on a whole wheat tortilla, rolled up and cut crosswise to make pinwheels (also yummy with ham and cheese or pb&j), yummy organic yogurt with real fruit.

I think the key is catching them before they start looking for something to eat. Once my kiddos start looking, nothing will satisfy them except carbs, and that sets them up for mood swings. Here is a picture of them having a snack of yogurt (not organic and full of sugar; this was day 2, before I had a chance to get to the store to buy better yogurt)- I took the picture because I could not believe how well they were getting along. At the time of the picture, they had been awake for ten hours with no nap, and usually at that point in the day, everyone is grumpy and they usually do nothing but fight (wrestle is more like it). This day, one of the first trying DesMaisons' method, as you can see, was peaceful - and that is definitely what I need - peace!

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