The Great Sugar (free) Experiment

What’s the deal with sugar anyways?! Why do we crave it and why is it so easy to come by? I mean, come on!! The stuff is in EVERYTHING and it tastes so damn good! But really, enough is enough is enough! We pretty much went through a sugar binge (like most everyone in America does from about Halloween to New Years) for almost 2 months. Back in early September after coming home from a vacation, I decided I’d try my hand at doing some Paleo type eating. If you haven’t heard of Paleo or don’t know much about it, I’d highly recommend reading the book by Loren Cordain, “The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and get healthy by eating the foods you were designed to eat”. I loved every single word in this book and it really breaks the Paleo way of eating down. Now, I don’t think this diet is necessarily sustainable for the long run but eating this way 80% of the time is not hard to do.
Anyways, back to our return from our vacation back in September, I started with the Whole 30 book and my interest in Paleo spiked from there. I gave it a go for 2 weeks (the recommended amount of time to be strict with the diet is 30 days hence the “30” in the title). I only tried it for 2 weeks because I had a girls trip planned at the end of September and let’s be honest, girls trips aren’t exactly “Paleo friendly”. I did my best and because I volunteered to be in charge of the meals and snacks, I did try very hard to incorporate more paleo-ish friendly foods into our menu (but because I’m a great friend I also scored Cheetos, cheese and meat trays, crackers, noodles and those muffins with the amazing cinnamon toppings on them).  So after that weekend came and went and I was back on the processed white sugar train (I mean I HAD to eat the baby shower cake that was specially made by a boutique bakery in the area!), I decided I’d eat Paleo by excluding grains and dairy in my diet BUT that I would include regular sugary desserts.  This plan has worked well for me and while I know this isn’t Paleo at all, I have noticed a significant change in my energy levels, sleep habits, and overall physical body.  But, and this is where all things go to shi*, the holidays.  Ok really it all started with our trip to Louisiana in the middle of October.  How could I pass up the beignets, the poboys, the fried potatoes (ok these are really just french fries), the muffalettas?  And of course ALL THE SWEETS!!  Well, I wasn’t going to pass any of it up so I did my best to have a Paleo breakfast and then go from there.  When we got home I tried to find a zest for Paleo but it just wasn’t in me.  Then after Halloween the only Paleo in my diet was the eggs and bacon I ate every morning for breakfast.  That was still better than not doing it at all but it just wasn’t sustainable and I love the holidays waaaay too much to replace anything with Paleo style-esk type foods.  So once December hit Paleo, shmaleo.

But here’s the amazing thing that happened because I was trying hard to fit more meats, fruits, and veggies into my diet, my toddler was also reaping the benefits and because I was consuming less of the bad stuff, so was he.  We had an abundance of great food in the house because of me and by default he ate more fruit and veggies too.  Ok so here’s why  I decided to write up this post in the first place.  Back in December we all were eating horribly.  And I mean anything that was convenient.  Breakfast wasn’t horrible because we all tried to eat either oatmeal (NOT at all paleo), cereal with almond milk, eggs and bacon, or pancakes.  Then there were more pancakes.  And pancakes and cereal were literally what we were feeding our toddler every single morning.  I usually don’t give him “pancake dip” (aka syrup) but my husband always does and so he got addicted to the sweet stuff in the am.  I started pulling out ice cream (it was coconut ice cream so I figured it was fine to eat at 10am) and of course my little bird wanted some too so I fed our toddler ice cream at 10am most mornings instead of giving him his usual snack of trail mix or a banana.  Then came lunch.  I think I made him mac and cheese or a PB&J almost every single day in December.  MORE SUGAR and processes shit!  Then he’d go down with the biggest fight EVER for naps and wake up in a terrible mood and then I’d feed him something else convenient for dinner like pizza or grilled cheese or really anything I could find to throw together because for some reason I never grocery shopped in December!  So you want to know what all this processed junk and sugar did to my poor toddler?  It made him a living NIGHTMARE to be around.  He was moody, grumpy, hard to put to sleep, even harder to keep asleep, had temper tantrums, screamed in our faces and basically just took the sweet natured, loving child away from us that we’ve known for the past 2.5 years.  So last weekend I said enough was enough and went to the grocery store and stocked up BIG time on more fruit and planned out dinner for the week.  I bought healthy lunch items for us and hid all signs of sugar from out toddler.  Here’s the big reveal…

We have our amazing two year old BACK!  Even after ONE day I noticed a vast improvement and it’s only gotten better from there.  On Monday I took it all away.  No more “potty chocolates” (he usually gets a few M&Ms every time he goes to the bathroom in the toilet), no more ice cream (real or coconut), no more pancakes with syrup, no more cookies, no more brownies, no more mac and cheese for lunch.  You get the idea.  Does this take a ton more effort on my part?  Well, I sure thought it would but it really hasn’t at all and I’ve been really pleased with how easy it’s been and how much of a difference it has made in our little guy.  He’s been in an amazing mood all week and he has slept incredibly well.  My next move needs to be removing it from my diet to see if it effects Campbell’s sleep habits any.  She’s a great sleeper but sometimes she does wake up before midnight for no reason.  I don’t know if I’m willing to give that a shot or not 😉  Anyways here’s a sample menu from our sugar free week.  I really hope to continue this and only allow Emmett to have sugar filled treats on special occasions like holidays, parties and get-togethers.

Monday: Breakfast-Oatmeal with 1/2 a banana and a drizzle of maple syrup mixed in.

Snack: trail mix which included raisins, nuts and coconut chips and a low sugar slice of pumpkin bread at a friends house

Lunch: 2 turkey slices, 2 cheese slices, yogurt, an apple

Dinner: Salad with chicken, avocado, tomatoes, bacon and ranch dressing

Tuesday: Breakfast: slice of whole week toast with butter (I also gave him an egg and bacon which he maybe had 3 bites of the bacon and didn’t touch the egg)

Snack: Banana

Lunch: 2 slices of turkey, 1 slice of cheese, an apple

Snack: Trail mix of almonds, raisins and  coconut chips

Dinner: Spaghetti squash with pesto, walnuts and chicken with a side of green peas

Wednesday: Breakfast-whole wheat Chex cereal with almond milk, 1 slice of whole wheat french toast made with 1 egg, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla.  Emmett at the entire piece with no syrup and didn’t even ask for any!

No snack today

Lunch-broccoli cheddar soup with extra cheese and extra frozen cut up broccoli that I added into the soup.  We also split a grands biscuit that was leftover from Sunday.

Dinner-Kale, white bean and sausage soup.  Emmett did really well with eating this soup!!

Thursday: Breakfast-Oatmeal with half a banana, a handful of pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup.  He only took a few bites of this.  I had him eat trail mix (same as above) on the way to preschool along with some almond milk so that he wasn’t starving all morning long!

Snack: blueberries

Lunch: 2 slices of turkey, 1 slice of cheese, an apple (he also may have had some pizza and challah bread at preschool)

No snack

Dinner: leftover Kale white bean and sausage soup.  He ate a lot of kale!

Friday: Breakfast-1 egg and 1 slice of bacon

Snack/lunch (we went to monkey buziness and he started eating at 10am.  I brought a lunch for him to eat later but he ate for almost an hour straight!!): 1 apple, 1/2 a turkey sandwich made with whole wheat bread, 3 slices of turkey, mayonnaise and mustard and trail mix.  When we got home he also had some veggie sticks from Trader Joe’s, a cheese stick and a fruit bar (all natural made with only fruit).

Dinner will be a supreme pizza from Papa Murphy’s.  I was going to make it myself as this is what I usually do on Friday’s but I dropped the ball and forgot both the cheese AND the yeast.  The cheese wouldn’t have been a problem for Chad to get at the store however, when making pizza dough it needs time to rise and if Chad doesn’t come home until 5:30, this means we wouldn’t eat until 8 and with Emmett having a pretty strict bedtime at 7:30 this doesn’t work for us.  So ordering out it is!

As a side note, every single night this week for a snack or dessert before bed, Emmett has chosen strawberries or blueberries or a banana.  He’s mainly gravitated towards strawberries which is great but I’m sure he’ll tire of these soon so I have to keep switching it up on him.  I also tried making a few smoothies this week which ended up being thrown out because he just didn’t care for them.  Next week I’m going to try harder to make dinners more vegetable rich including things like eggplant and green beans.  He loves vegetables if he’s hungry enough but I did a poor job at planning this week.

Anyways, that was just a look into our everyday life.  I have never shared a post like this on what we eat because I rarely pay attention to what I feed my toddler.  I have to say though that I like reading these posts on other blogs.  I love getting new ideas from people and I love seeing what other toddlers are eating.  If you have ideas, please send them my way.  I don’t have a picky eater at all but I do like simplicity and I find it hard to be creative when I gravitate towards simpler fare.

Happy Friday!  I hope you enjoy whatever traditions your Friday night brings!!  Have a great weekend (and try to ease up on the sugar ;)!

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