A surefire way to fail at “cutting out sugar” is by believing you are actually cutting out sugar!!
I emphasized this point in my How To Cut Out Sugar Guide, which is where you need to start. So click on that link before you continue, or else this article/guide won't make sense.
There is natural sugar in almost everything you eat, and nature provides us with delicious, sugary options! What you are doing here is cutting out processed junk that is negatively affecting your children's development, and hindering their overall growth (mind, body and spirit).
The next way to fail at this is by making the decision you are going to get rid of sugar, maybe mentioning it to the kids and family members and then leaving it at that while you try to shove apple slices down their throats and bake dozens of “sugar-free” cookies!
So let's understand how to do this properly when it comes to children and your friends and family.
1. All In - Processed Sugar Out!
This can't be a split issue. If you try to take your kids off sugar while you and your hubby snack on granola bars, run on sugar-filled coffee, or indulge on ice cream in the evenings, this whole plan is going to fall flat. You are either all in together or not at all.
Note: This doesn't mean you have to be perfect, you are inevitably going to indulge on things for months to come, this is a slow process focused on consistency, not perfection, I'm simply saying get committed!
2. Mind set
I am going to briefly re-emphasize this point because I think it is SO darn important. Your mindset will determine your success. If you are excited, joyful, confident and prepared to make this change it will go accordingly. Your success in this is not dependent on others' reactions, only yours.
It’s only a big deal if you make it one... or choose to inappropriately engage someone who is making it one.
3. Your Expectations
You aren’t going to be (processed) sugar-free by tomorrow or even by the end of the week so get that expectation out of your head. This is where making the alternatives list comes in handy. Let’s say there are 20 processed food items on that list, you can set a goal to be eating only the healthy alternatives of 5 of those processed items by the end of the first month.
At that pace, you’ll have replaced all 20 of those items with healthy alternatives within 4 months and the transition will feel smooth and realistic, which makes it successful!
How To: set R.E.A.L. goals for this process.
4. Know What To Expect
For kids who were raised in a sugar-free home, not having candy, cupcakes, sugars etc. isn’t a challenge. They were raised with fruit and whole foods so their body and mind never became addicted to the substance.
For kids raised with sugar, this is a different story because they have become addicted to this substance.
Whenever you take away an addictive substance, whether it's drugs, coffee, alcohol or sugar, the body will go through a withdrawal process. Your kids will crave the substance, a.k.k the processed sugar they have been addicted to their whole life.
This is not meant to detour you, rather I hope you feel a wee bit concerned that your child is currently addicted to a substance and that this motivates you further to make this change so they can be freed from that addiction.
There is a huge advantage of making this change with them now. That is: there is less of a psychological component.
An adult alcoholic knows he/she enjoys and is addicted to alcohol, which plays a factor in their recovery process and is another hurdle they have to get over. Your child on the other hand doesn’t yet psychologically understand they are addicted to sugar. They see a cupcake and know they want it, and they may cry and scream if they don’t get it, but they don’t understand their body/ brain is physically “addicted," because they don't have a full understanding of the concept of addiction (of course, this depends on their age).
After a couple weeks without ANY processed sugar, those cravings will eventually go away, their palates will change and they will be satisfied with the snack of homemade date squares without added sugar (just an example).
How To: come into this prepared, but DON'T overthink it! If you truly believe in what you are doing and are ready to make the move; as long as you are moving forward with confidence and joy, (even when you experience the hurdles,) your kids will follow along!
If you want their transition off of sugar to be healthy and fun, make it that way with your attitude and by being prepared (which you will be if you followed the How To Cut Out Sugar Guide).
5. One On One Conversations
"Oh by the way the kids can't have any sugar anymore. Okay thanks, see you at 3."
Not only will your kids get sugar that day, you will have some frustrated and confused family or friends.
This is where your "whys" list, and your confidence comes in, which we talked about in the How To Cut Out Sugar Guide. For those who may give you some resistance or for those people who are responsible for feeding your kids, you will have to sit down and have one intentional conversation with them.
Do this once and you will avoid months of headaches, frustration, spousal arguments and passive-aggressive resentment!
These conversations establish your boundary. If they don’t listen well then that's another conversation at a later time, but most family and friends will ultimately respect your choices. Even if they cause a fuss, they’ll eventually get over it and life will continue.
Remember: you aren't asking permission, you are informing while respectfully and compassionately bringing them in on your decision, and inviting them to walk this journey alongside you, not against you!
This will depend on their age. If they are young enough you may choose not to have this conversation and just go about making the changes within the household at a realistic pace, following your R.E.A.L goals. If they are:
How to: Sit your kids down and to the best of your ability, simplify your "whys" to a level they will understand and walk them through those reasons. Share your R.E.A.L goals so they get an idea of how this is going to look for all of you moving forward.
Then get their feedback, this doesn't mean you are getting their permission, you are simply creating a safe space for them to express their feelings/opinions. If you create this safe space throughout the entire process, this will all go a lot easier!
With Grandparents & Other Close Relations
How to: Together with your husband/ wife, take your list of whys that you made and explain to them why you are doing this.
1. Give them a copy of that list
2. Give them a copy of my “Myths About Cutting Out Sugar” article
3. Let them ask questions/ voice concerns (again this isn't getting permission, but respecting their feelings and opinions)
With Teachers, Babysitters etc.
How To: The same conversation needs to be had but this one does’t need to be as personal if you don’t want it to be!
6. Equip Them
Don't just stop at having a conversation. If these people are responsible for feeding your kids, make sure to equip them too!
The alternative list and resources you've already made and gathered will be your lifelines. Share those with them!
How To: At that same sit-down conversation, you are also going to give them a copy of your alternative list and share your favourite resources so they too know what to feed the kids! Also listen to their concerns and questions and do your best to work with them. Getting defensive or short will only make them frustrated and angry, and the people who could have been your greatest allies in this will not be very apt to help.
Get Set. Go
No habits or patterns can be broken or changed in life without real intention and proper goal setting. You are now prepared and armed to free yourself and your loved ones from the addiction to sugar thanks to these guides. It is up to use the guides, start the journey and stay committed.
And hey, I've been completely processed sugar-free for over 5 years now, and there are thousands of people and families like me all over the world (not to mention ALL of our older ancestors). No matter who you are, or what family you belong to, you can do this, I believe in you!
You're ready... now go!