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Going AIP

This post first appeared on my other blog Giving Up Sugar.

I haven’t posted in ages on Giving Up Sugar.  Mostly this is because once you’ve given up the white stuff there’s little left to say, and I am not one to hang out in my kitchen creating mouth-watering sugar-free treats.  (Which is a shame, because I suspect I could make a killing.)

However, some of you on your own sugar-free journey may be interested in my next foray into wellness.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease at the ripe old age of 27.  Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism (which I have too).

I was not at all surprised when I received my diagnosis.  Most of the women in my family have hypothyroidism, so I knew what was up when I put on a huge amount of weight in 6 months, felt like a slug all the time, had a puffy face, thinning hair and had freezing cold hands.  The hands thing was the final piece in the puzzle for me, as I had previously been one of those ridiculously hardy folks who swan around in summer clothing in the middle of winter.  But now people would shake my hand and cry out ‘Flipping heck, have you been dipping your hands in ice water?’  Something was definitely wrong.

I had to beg my doctor to run the tests as she didn’t expect someone to have hypothyroidism at 27.  But to her credit, she was swayed by my family history and ran the tests (I now realise how fortunate I was that my doctor listened to me.  Many people with Hashimoto’s are misdiagnosed as having a mental illness).  I’m not kidding when I say it took me 6 more years to fully understand the implications of my condition and to accept the limitations of it.  I spent those years ignoring my body, being lackadaisical about taking my medication, pushing myself through the tiredness and brain fog, and generally trying to live as I had before until I gave myself a bad case of burnout.

It was the burnout that forced me to pay more attention to my body and my lifestyle.  My body was screaming at me to slow down because it could not take it any more.

So I slowed down and began to recover.  Giving up sugar helped my energy levels to increase, and I was able to reduce my thyroid medication a bit, plus I lost weight.  Then eating the Trim Healthy Mama way (which is refined sugar-free) helped me shed two more dress sizes and feel more energetic.  But it hasn’t quite been enough.

I have always had a tricky case of hypothyroidism.  My thyroid levels almost always require tweaking of my medication and I am closely monitored for this.  Sometimes I need more thyroxine, sometimes less.  Even when my thyroid levels are ‘normal’, I keep having bouts of unexplained tiredness, poor memory, brain fog, irritability and feeling so, so cold.  Some of these ‘thyroidy bouts’ as I call them, can last a few weeks or a few months.  At the moment I am a bout which has been going on for a couple of months now.  Fun times.

Trips to doctors have them treating me like I am a mental health patient, despite the fact that I am a patient with hypothyroidism, complaining of hypothyroidism symptoms.  But as my thyroid levels are ‘fine’, doctors don’t seem to know what else to do other than screen me for depression and look confused.  I have learned to take my husband with me to all such appointments for back up as I am never taken seriously without having him there to say ‘Yep, what she is saying is absolutely true.’

My thyroidy bouts are not fun, and are very hard on my husband as he has to pick up my slack.  I’m a stay-at-home parent to two toddlers, so that’s a lot of crazy slack to be picked up!  I’m sick of these bouts affecting me – and my family – despite the fact that my test results are ‘normal’.  There has to be more that can be done.

Our genes play a part in the development of autoimmune disease, but diet and lifestyle can reduce the effects once that switch is flicked on.  I’m pretty active in the Hashimoto’s online community and have seen many reports from fellow sufferers saying they’d seen a huge reduction in their symptoms by following the Autoimmune Protocol.  It’s like the Paleo diet, but harsher. The first phase is an elimination diet where you cut out the usual suspects like grains, eggs, soy, dairy and sugar.  But the Autoimmune Protocol goes further.  Developed by Dr Sarah Ballentyne – an expert on immunity and inflammation – the protocol also cuts out nuts, seeds, alternative sweeteners, nightshades and NSAIDS (ibuprofen etc).  The main focus of the protocol is to eliminate foods that contribute to leaky gut and bad gut flora from the diet.  You can read more about the science behind the protocol here.

People with autoimmune diseases can expect to see significant improvement within a few weeks or months, although some may take longer.  I feel confident about doing the first phase because it’s not forever.  Once a measurable improvement happens, then a slow reintroduction to other foods can begin.  Many people discover they react badly to nightshades (tomatoes/potatoes/eggplant/peppers) and have to avoid them for life, and I suspect this might be the case for me.  My father is deathly allergic to raw tomato, and my skin often reacts to nightshades when I  prepare them for cooking.  Other people can successfully reintroduce eggs, nuts and dairy, so I hope I’m one of those!

Food elimination diets are daunting.  But if you’ve eaten something all your life, you may be unaware of its impact on your health and well-being.  I never truly knew how addicted to sugar I was until I eliminated it and saw improvements in my energy and saiety levels.  People who’ve gone AIP report significantly negative reactions to many of the reintroduced foods (like two weeks of feeling yuck), and those reactions are enough to help them avoid that food for life.  I’m hopeful that getting to the bottom of any food intolerances will help me kick my thyroidy bouts for good.

I wondered what on earth there would be left for me to eat if I attempted AIP.  No eggs.  My staple breakfast.  No dairy.  But, but what’s life without cheese?  No curries?  I think I might cry.

Help was at hand thanks to my local library and The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, by Mickey Trescott.  D and I were so impressed by this book, we immediately bought our own copy.  Besides being a beautifully designed and photographed cookbook, what had me going ‘okay, this lady is my new BFF’ was that Mickey acknowledges that sticking to AIP during the elimination phase is HARDER THAN HARD.  She acknowledges that having to make every single dish, sauce or dressing from scratch feels like a Herculean task if you work full time, have kids, or are sick. You know, from an autoimmune disease.  If that’s you, Mickey’s your gal.  She has meal plans and shopping lists to ease into the AIP way.  There are also many other great AIP books out there if you look online.

I haven’t started AIP yet, but I do have a starting date (28 July).  I’m approaching this like I did when I gave up sugar.  I’m not quitting until my social calendar is empty.  My birthday and a trip away are coming up soon, so I will go AIP after then.  I will be turning down dinner invitations and dining out while I’m on the elimination phase because I can’t be bothered with the hassle it would entail.  I have a wedding to go to in September and I think I will just tell the beautiful couple not to worry about a meal for me, and take my own food.  I want to cause zero hassle on their big day.  It will definitely be weird, but when you are on the elimination phase you absolutely cannot cheat.  If you have a reaction to something, you probably won’t be able to work out what caused it (Was it the dressing?  Were the veges sauted in butter? etc.).

So wish me luck.  I’ll keep you posted.

Have you ever gone AIP?  Did it work for you?

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Dollar Diet: Week 45, hey you sweet thing

So many delicious things

So many delicious things

I got together with some lovely friends for a sugar-free baking sharing session.  It was great to have so many people expressing an interest in reducing the amount of sugar in their diets.  We all made a couple of recipes each, and bought them for everyone to try to see if it was something their family might like to eat.  We had several kids in tow so many of the recipes can now be certified kid-friendly.

A sharing session like this is great if you are a ‘sugar-freer’, for several reasons.

1) Many sugar-free recipes are REVOLTING.  Like, oh-my-god-get-this-abomination-outta-my-mouth-now revolting.  This is a great opportunity to try a wide range of recipes and see what ones you actually like, without wasting your time and money.

2) Sugar-free ingredients can be expensive.  Alternative sweeteners can be costly, as can other ingredients beloved by those who create SF recipes.  There’s nothing more annoying than spending lots of money on cacao nibs and chia seeds, only to find the end result is not your cup of tea.  A sharing session is a great way to know whether a certain ingredient is worth your financial investment.

3) It’s a great time to educate others on the benefits of sugar-free living.  I can hold court about not eating sugar for hours if allowed, but I seldom get the chance.  🙂  At the sharing session I was asked all sorts of questions, and gave my opinion on the best alternative sweeteners.  The others were very interested in just how much not eating sugar has transformed my life – for example, I seldom need snacks or spend much mental energy thinking about food anymore – and they were keen to give it a real go.  It’s also a great opportunity to let others know what recipes are really sugar free.  There are many recipes out there claiming to be sugar free, but when you read the list of ingredients it has a cup of agave syrup or 2 cups of honey.  Yeah, not quite the real deal.

I made a batch of Sarah Wilson’s ‘oreo cookies’ (which are quite nice, but in no way taste anything like the original in case you wondered), and some chocolate/nut balls (which do have dates in them, but are a treat that will please everyone).  I came home with a reasonable haul of goodies which disappeared over the next few days, so it was well worth the effort.

Many people would like to give being sugar-free a go, but starting just feels too hard.  A little sharing session like this might just be a delicious tipping point.

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Habits: Out with the old, in with the new

I happened to catch an interview on Radio New Zealand the other week which really pricked up my antennae.  It was an interview with Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, talking about her new book Better than Before.  The Happiness Project has sold over 1.5 million copies and struck a chord with people all over the globe.  It follows Gretchen’s pursuit to discover what truly makes her happy, and contains a lot of scientific research and wisdom on how to increase your own happiness.  She followed that up with the engaging Happier at Home, which charts Gretchen’s experiments to improve several aspects of her life related to her home, including her possessions, her marriage, her children and wider family, her engagement with her community.

In this interview with Kathryn Ryan (if you are really interested I would listen to it now as I don’t know how long Radio NZ keeps their podcasts online for), Gretchen talks about how creating new habits truly can transform our lives.  Gretchen argues that if there is something about yourself that you don’t like and want to change, one of the most effective ways to create a lasting change is to form a new habit.  A change needs to become that ingrained if it is going to stick long-term.

Gretchen states that our habits are the building blocks of our lives, and are so ingrained that we rarely think about them.  Most of us don’t think ‘Shall I brush my teeth today?’  We just do it as part of our daily routine.  Therefore she argues that our habits can be the most effective scaffolding for creating a you that is better than the old you.

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Want to create healthier habits? image credit

She goes on to say that in order to successfully create a new habit (like giving up sugar), you must understand how your personality affects the way in which you form habits, because habit formation is not a one-size-fits-all thing.  In her research she discovered that most of us fall into one of four groups: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers and Rebels.  You can take a quiz here to find out what you are.  For example, a questioner has to be convinced that changing something about themselves by forming a certain habit really is the best thing for them.  I am an obliger, meaning I often overlook my needs for that of others, so forming a new habit which benefits myself is tricky.  If we don’t get our strategies right, new habits just won’t stick.

What I love about Gretchen’s work is that she is PRACTICAL.  I have read much about habit formation in my time, and none of it makes as much sense to me as her work does.  There are a lot of myths out there (like it only takes 21 days to form a new habit), and Gretchen has sifted through it all.   She has some great-yet-simple strategies for the different personality types e.g. say if you are an obliger like me and you want to exercise more – exercise with a friend who will be miffed if you don’t show up, because it is the accountability to someone else that is the key ingredient here.  If you want to know more, buy the book!

She also talked about ‘abstainers’ versus ‘moderators’.  Moderators are the sort of people who can have a block of chocolate in their desk and eat a square or two a day.  Abstainers are people like me, who would scoff the lot straight away, so they find it EASIER to just abstain from chocolate altogether.  What this means is that if you are struggling to give up sugar (or carbs, or alcohol, or whatever) it might be because you are an abstainer.  Having sugar in the house, or indulging in it here and there is not the best strategy for you.

Obviously what she said resonated with me.  Completely abstaining from sugar has worked for me far better than only having a bit here and there.  Saying no to offers of treats from well-meaning friends and family is much easier for me than eating it and dealing with the horrible consequences (feeling tired, spike in appetite, craving more sugar etc.).

Anyway, after listening to the podcast D and I talked about some things about ourselves that we’d like to change, and how we might do it, armed with this new knowledge.  D is an obliger too (although with very strong questioner tendencies) and wants to cut down his use of his smartphone.  He has enlisted me to call him out whenever I see him using it either too much, or at an inappropriate time, i.e. while the kids want to play with him.  In turn, as my accountability person, I have enlisted D’s help to ensure I get out of bed early each morning to exercise.  As I am an abstainer I have also decided to exercise every day, so that longer lie-ins are just not an option.  Hopefully exercise first thing in the morning will be just something that I do, just like brushing my teeth.

Having recently read Happier at Home, I have been inspired to launch a similar project.  I will be posting more detail on this soon.  If you have some bad habits that you’d like to replace for healthier ones, I highly recommend having a read of Gretchen’s website and books.

What ‘new habit’ strategies have worked for you in the past? 

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Week One

My first week of commitment to the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan went well.

The only thing that tripped me up were the two social gatherings I went to over the weekend.  I don’t have any ‘on-plan’ tried-and-tested crowd pleasing recipes yet, so I opted for making healthy choc/date/nut truffles and sausage rolls which I figured were my best options as I had very little preparation time for both events.  Neither of those dishes are on plan, but it couldn’t be helped.  I managed to mostly eat on plan at the events, but in the future I will be:

  • testing out more THM recipes so I can bring an arsenal of them to social events, and
  • filling up on THM food before I go out whenever I’m unsure what will be on offer at an event

I kept our meals simple.  Lots of tuna salad, eggs, and chili with quinoa and veges.  I want to get the basics rights before I branch out into the fancier stuff.  I made a couple of THM recipes from the book that were delicious so I’m pleased I didn’t throw in the towel before giving THM a fair go.

I haven’t weighed myself because I know I will find that too depressing.  I’m sure the scales will show I’m losing weight, which gratifyingly has been the case since giving up sugar again in January, as my clothes are getting looser.  I have taken some ‘before photos’ which I hope to share with some kick-ass ‘after’ photos one day!

 

Are you a Trim Healthy Mama?  Do you have any tips for newbies like me?

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Dollar Diet: Week 6

Despite physically running on empty this week, our bank account is getting fuller by the day.  This has been an excellent Dollar Diet week.

I made plum chutney, and holy moly it is the best chutney I have ever tasted!

2 kilos of plums (plus more rhubarb from my Aunt)

2 kilos of plums (plus more rhubarb from my Aunt)

I have no pictures of the finished product because it has all gone – either given away as gifts or gobbled up by D and I (it goes great with vintage cheddar…).  My second batch is ready to be assembled.  This year we have had an absolute bumper harvest of plums due to a scorching summer- the plums are absolutely coming out our ears – and it feels great to be making the most of them, like being a good steward of what we have.  We gave away more bags this week to family and neighbours.

I had a swag of birthdays this week and decided to make the most divinely decadent chocolate truffles known to mankind as gifts.  A dear foodie friend gave me her secret recipe a few years ago and I swore never to reveal it.  I’m not eating sugar, but if I was, these are what I would request on my deathbed.  They are so good I often get asked where I bought them and get shocked looks when I say I made them myself.  Anyway, I made a batch and ended up with several gift bags worth. 2015-02-06 22.33.00

I also made a meal for a friend who is wrangling his three kids while his wife is out of town and popped a bag of truffles in for whenever he managed to sneak in a little ‘me’ time.

We’ve been fastidious about using our leftovers, and using up what we have in the freezer and the cupboards. I made a roast chicken that gave us 3 meals plus stock.  We bought a loaf of bread in an all-fired hurry as D’s Dad called us on Saturday to say he and D’s step-mum were half an hour away.  We’d totally forgotten they were coming but fortunately we had plenty of fixings for lunch – except extra bread.  D sprinted for the dairy (what we call corner stores in NZ) and tried not to wince at the price.  They bought a big bottle of orange juice with them and most of it was left untouched.  D’s birthday is coming up soon so we’re saving the juice to make into a low-sugar punch for his party.

I had a real grumbly-tummy, hungry day today and rather than get some non-sugary snacks from the supermarket, I made some ‘nut balls’ from ingredients I had to hand.  I adapted a recipe from The Clean Living Cookbook, which was given to me by my best mate R.  They were delicious.  Sausage told me quite seriously that they were her ‘favourite’.

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I have made more of an effort to shop at the cheapest places for grocery items, rather than getting absolutely everything from the supermarket.  I can be rather lazy about doing this, and I hate having to get Chip in and out of the car multiple times on a single outing.  We have a wonderful market here in Whanganui on Saturdays and I am able to pick up a tray of free range eggs there which sell for several dollars less than our cheapest supermarket.  I picked up a large bag of tomatoes for $3 while I was there.  I’m still waiting on the tomatoes in my garden to ripen but they are on their way, and I will soon be awash with free tomatoes (I got the plants for free).  I also went to a produce store which sells fruit and veg at much lower prices than the supermarket.  Travelling to several different places for groceries can actually negate any savings when you factor in the cost of petrol, but I will try to get into the habit of picking things up when I am going past anyway.

D saved half the cost of his usual bus fare (and about 75% when he takes our car) by catching a ride with a friend to Wellington this week.  D goes into his Wellington-based company to have some face-time with his colleagues once a month, and the cost of his travel isn’t cheap.  D traveled with a friend who also goes to Wellington regularly for work and gave him some money towards petrol, which he practically had to force into our friend’s hand.

I sold a pair of shoes on Trade Me for $35.

I had to go into our local mall in order to get some cash out for the market and was confronted by lots of temptation for the first time in weeks.  There were lots of ‘bargains’ to be had, but as I looked in the shop windows I found myself saying ‘There is nothing I need’.  Remarkable.

D has noticed a change in the way he calculates the cost of things.  We have been more diligent about using cloth nappies on the kids, and D being a math whiz, quickly calculated the expenditure on disposables we might make in a year if we didn’t.  E.g. 4 nappies a day at 30c a nappy, comes out at over $400 spent on disposables a year.  It’s worth doing those yearly calculations to give yourself an incentive to stop doing something or at least cut back.

Phew.  There’s actually more stuff to tell, but this has turned into a novella, so I’ll stop.

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How to give up sugar

This post first appeared in my other blog Giving Up Sugar.

I have been trying to live sugar-free for the best part of three years now, and since beginning back in 2012 I’ve noticed the sugar-free movement getting more and more traction.

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While sugar-free living is not a magic path to a super-slim me, I prefer eating this way.  I certainly do lose some weight and have waaaay more control over my appetite when I am sugar-free.  Some people are able to give up and stay off the white stuff for good, but I was derailed from the sugar-free wagon by both my pregnancies.  I’m not sure why.  Both pregnancies played havoc with my thyroid (I have hypothyroidism), and I found it impossible to ignore my chocolate cravings.

BUT, I have leapt back on that wagon with gusto and must report that it’s been pretty easy so far.  Knowing that I have been successful at keeping sugar-free for months and months in the past is a great motivator.

The number one question I get asked about living sugar-free is how I go about quitting.  So here’s my guide giving up the white stuff.

FAQ’s:

1. How did you do it?  How can I quit sugar too?

You can either quit gently (I’d recommend Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar programme if this sounds like you) or go cold turkey.  I went cold turkey, cause that’s just how I roll.  Either way, here are some tips to make it easier on yourself.

  • Quit when your social calendar isn’t full.  It was the beginning of November when I first discovered Sweet Poison.  As Christmas was coming up, the first time D and I quit (more on that later) we decided to be kind to ourselves and wait until AFTER Christmas/New Year’s.  We waited until we were back at work, so we didn’t have lots of free time to think about food.  Stay in for a couple of weeks instead of going out for dinner at night.  Avoid your favourite cafe.  Have friends over to your house, instead of going to theirs.
  • Get sugar in all its variants out of your house.  Give it away to your neighbours.  Just get rid of it.  You don’t want to be sitting at home on day two with that stash of chocolate you always keep in the top right-hand cupboard calling your name.
  • Generally I think soft drink is the devil, but get some Coke/Sprite Zero, or other zero-sugar drink to get you through the withdrawal period, if you think it might help.  Trust me, after a few weeks you will no longer want the stuff anymore.  I had it for about a week (that’s all I could stand) and it helped me when I got cravings.
  • Expect to have a few days of feeling rubbish.  It passes.  Sooner than you’d think.
  • Really think about if you’re ready to quit.  It’s okay if you’re not.  Just file the idea of quitting sugar away for when you are.  For me, I’d just had enough.  I’d hit bottom.  I was so embarrassed and ashamed of my over-eating that carrying on as I was just wasn’t an option anymore.  Sweet Poison was the first thing that gave me hope in like, forever.  My daughter is my main motivation for staying sugar-free.  I don’t want her to grow up with a weight problem, or have the food issues that I did.

2. Why should I give up sugar?

Oh man, once you’ve been off it you’ll see.  Fructose is killing us.  It’s making us fat, sick, tired, diseased, spotty and addicted.  There is nothing in fructose that your body needs.

Giving up sugar has changed my life.  Here are some benefits I’ve seen:

  • weight loss
  • increased energy
  • increased satiety levels (I only need 3 meals a day)
  • clearer mind
  • fewer mood swings
  • better sleep
  • clearer skin
  • HAVING CONTROL OVER MY APPETITE.  I never could stop a one chocolate.  Now I can look at chocolate and not even want it.  Now I seldom even think about chocolate.  Or other sweet stuff.

3. What’s sugar withdrawal like?

Unfortunately, it’s different for everyone.  David Gillespie reckons men have an easier time of it than women.  I think he’s probably right.  My husband D took a couple of weeks to withdraw, which is pretty typical for men.  I took a couple of months.  Some women take longer.  You may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • irritability (Duh!  Of course you’re going to be irritable)
  • intense hunger (When D and I quit we were both RAVENOUS on the first day.  I would have eaten anything not nailed down).  Have a metric tonne of sugar-free snacks at the ready.
  • tiredness/lethargy
  • trouble sleeping

All these symptoms are normal.  You are detoxing from an incredibly addictive substance.  I felt headachey, hungry and tired for a couple of days, but otherwise I was okay.  I found the worst part of withdrawal was simply saying no to temptation when out and about.

4. How will I know when I have withdrawn properly?

Your appetite will decrease.  You will no longer have thoughts of food taking up valuable space in your mind.  You will no longer be planning your day around trips to get snacks, or panicking about when food might get served at a friend’s dinner party because you’re starving.  You will be able to look at sugary treats and say ‘euck’.

5.  How do you stay sugar-free?

Expect to mess up.  Ok?  Just expect it.  You’re going to be okay.  You’re making a big change.  You’ve been addicted to this stuff for most of your life.

It takes a person an average of SEVEN times to break any sort of addiction, and sugar is no exception.  D and I first quit in January 2012 and did really well until we went to America in September that year.  We came back totally addicted again (hard to avoid it when you are been hosted by people).  As I was pregnant at the time and finding withdrawal incredibly hard, we decided to be kind to ourselves and quit after the baby arrived.

I am not militant about never eating any sugar – but I do have strict, self-imposed rules around when I do have it: super-special occasions like milestone birthdays and weddings only.  This means I hardly ever have it.  I do this because D and I are very social and always have ‘special occasions’ going on.  I do this because I enjoy celebrating with loved ones, and some times are special enough to me to eat a damned piece of wedding cake.  It works for me.  Some people find staying away altogether works best for them.  Figure out what approach works best for you.

After you’ve been sugar-free for a few months it really does get easier and easier.  If you mess up, or deliberately choose to eat some, just gird your loins and start eating sugar-free again at your next meal.  It’s not the end of the world.

6.  How do you get kids to be sugar-free?

Err, good question.  One of my kids is only a baby so he doesn’t know any different.  My older kid is often surrounded by it at play groups and birthday parties.  I try not to be militant about what she eats when we are out as I think that merely serves to increase the desirability of sugary food to children.   Her meals are home are almost always sugar-free which  helps her have a balanced diet.  I try to spread the sugar-free message where ever I can (without being a pain in the butt) – especially at play groups where there are always biscuits etc on offer.

If you’ve got older kids, you might need to take a different tack.  Sugar is in most of the food your kids eat, even if you haven’t meant to sugar them up.  Seriously.  It’s in their cereals, their yogurts, their ‘healthy’ muesli bars.  Depending on your kids’ personalities, you might want to take the softly, softly approach.  Arm yourself with lots of yummy sugar-free recipes.  And once you’ve all withdrawn, you can replace the sugar in their favourite recipes with alternatives. (Occasional treats people, occasional).

7. I love baking.  What sugar alternatives do you use?

Okay, lots of recipes will claim to be sugar-free but still use honey, agave, or maple syrup.  Those things are all high in fructose and still bad for you.  So you do have to look a bit harder online to find truly sugar-free recipes.

Occasionally I use stevia, erythritol, dextrose and rice malt syrup.  While many people who have researched these alternative sweeteners swear by them, I must say that I think the jury is still out on them for ME, so I don’t have sugar-free treats a lot.  With all due respect to my sugar-free friends out there, some people use sweeteners like it gives them free licence to eat cake.  Like it magically makes things healthier.  It’s still cake.  You can make some amazing sugar-free treats for sure, but use them sparingly.  Dextrose cookies twice a day does not a healthy diet make.