Raquel and I can’t imagine completely removing sugar from our teenagers’ diets. So, when Wendy Dessler told us she had done just that – and had been successful – we wanted to know more about how, when, where and why she pulled off this amazing feat.
You are going to love learning more of the details of how and why this mom got her family to give up sugar. I think you will be just as awed by her as we were.
By Wendy Dessler
I admit it. When my three kids were toddlers I was much more concerned with their happiness than their health. I thought they were just as cute as they could be with ice cream on their faces and lollypops dripping down their chubby little hands.
They got a little older and we signed them up for dance class and soccer. I thought my little girl looked so precious when I bought the latest dance costumes at Just For Kix and they did just fine if they did still have a little baby fat.
Then I began to see things a bit differently. People started making comments about how my boys should go out for football. I live in the south where “not so nice” things are said in code.
Your boys should go out for football is code for “Dang that is one big kid!” (To which I replied, “Bless your heart!” You can figure out what that is code for)
That’s when I began to pay attention to what they were eating.
By the time they were teenagers, watching them eat was a full-time job. If you don’t know, teenagers require more food than other people and most large animals. They normally eat 3 meals per day and 2 snacks. The snacks last roughly 3 hours each.
I finally decided to put the brakes on sugar when I watched my 15-year-old son pour 1/4 cup of sugar on his Frosted Flakes.
Tip # 1 – Tell them the score.
I have an announcement!
So the night came when I called the family together and made the big announcement. We were going sugar-free.
First, they looked at me and wondered what those strange sounds were coming from my mouth. Then when they understood, they laughed and laughed.
The next day when they came home from school they walked through the newly stocked kitchen that was filled with the freshest fruits and the most beautiful veggie trays nestled between cases of sparkling clear water in the fridge.
Instead of the oohs and aahs I was expecting I heard a chorus of “Mom! There is nothing to eat!”
Tip # 2 – Explain what they are feeling
Having teenagers is difficult at its best.
I believe that the word “teenager” translates to “mood swings” in some societies.
As their bodies began to adjust to having less sugar, their moods changed – a lot. They would be laughing one minute then slamming doors the next. I really couldn’t tell if it was just teen stuff or if it was the sugar crash. I learned that if the doors they were slamming were cabinet doors, it was probably the sugar.
At first, they would still eat sugar when they left home. But soon something great started to happen. With a little pointing from their father and I, they started noticing nicer skin and fewer headaches.
My youngest son had always been bothered with constipation, suddenly was feeling better. They started reaching for the water without fuss and opting for air popped popcorn instead of snack cakes. Soon they were doing great all by themselves.
By then, I was craving sugar so bad I was dreaming about it.
Tip # 3 – Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The Way
If you force your teens to go sugar-free, do not think you can hide anything.
They can smell the sugar you put in your coffee 4 hours before they got home. They are like a cocker spaniel. You can shove a piece of candy in your pocket, sneak off to the bathroom, unwrap it at a snail’s pace with the shower running and when you open the door, they are standing there saying: “You have candy?”
Admit to yourself that everyone needs a treat from time to time and order some really good sugar-free candy online so you can all have a few pieces from time to time.
Before you begin this journey, you must accept that it is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a long-term challenge which does not have an “ending”. You will face challenges. When my son had his 15th birthday party, he was fine with a tray of sugar-free brownies with whipped cream, nuts, fruits, and candies (all sugar-free without their knowledge) on the side. The kids could make their own treats. But honestly? If you have ever been in a room full of teen boys, you know they inhale food and rarely know how it tastes. The hardest part is keeping them from eating the plates.
When my daughter was turning 14, it was a different story. It was more about the looks, the coolness and it had to be special. For her, I cut the center of a watermelon and shaped it like a tall cake. The “icing” was sugar-free whipped cream and I decorated it with berries and chopped nuts. You can get the recipe here. It was so pretty and so special that she didn’t care that it was not cake. As a matter of fact, she bragged to her friends that she had given up sugar because it was so bad for her skin.
Taking risks, pushing the boundaries, and bending the rules are part of being a teenager. This is the time when they are about to step out on their own. You have told them all their lives not to smoke or drink. This is when they will try a sip or a puff and if you did it right, will feel the pangs of guilt for it. But they will do it. Because they have to learn to fly. You did it, I did it, and they will do it. So it will be with the sugar battle. You will remove the temptation, offer a better solution, and plant the seeds. They will stand, they will fall, but they will get back up. They will go into adulthood with the foundation of a healthy diet.
To me, that is a success.
Wendy Dessler is a super-connector with ManageBacklinks.io which helps businesses with building their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She does that in her spare time, when she is not being a personal chef or personal assistant to her two children.