INTERVIEW: Sugar Free Kids - is that even possible?

Are you interested in sugar-free lunch box fillers that won’t get thrown away? Read on for recipes that your children will love…

lunch box slice

lunch box slice

It’s a fact of life that sugar is addictive. And its link with obesity is widely accepted. As parents, we want the best possible start for our children – yet is it really necessary to eliminate sugar altogether?

It all depends on how you define ‘healthy’.  Sha , the creator of www.sugarfreekids.com.au and an advisor to Sarah Wilson’s team behind ‘I Quit Sugar’, was determined to start her children’s journey with sugar-free food. A diabetic all her life, Sha is well aware of the effects that sugar can have on your body, and decided that her children didn't need it.

When her eldest child started solids, Sha wanted to cook tasty food that provided maximum nutrition – and for her, that meant sugar-free. She was a confident cook, yet struggled to find suitable recipes.  There are many recipe books, websites and ‘mum blogs’ containing hundreds of kids’ recipes; however, once you delve into the actual ingredients for these recipes, it’s quite astonishing to see just how much sugar is required. Do we really need to add all this sugar for our kids to eat our homemade food? Are we fooling ourselves into thinking that because we’ve made the food from scratch, we’re providing our children with healthier options? How do you define ‘healthy’? The home-baked biscuits that are loaded with brown sugar are the healthier alternative to bought packaged biscuits, but are they actually providing optimal health benefits?

Simply stated, Sha’s specific health focus and philosophy is to eat food that doesn’t affect your blood sugar level.  This means that your level remains neutral without experiencing any highs or lows. Interestingly, the research is contradictory in terms of the actual ‘sugar rush’ that children experience post sugar consumption. There is some scientific evidence proving there is no such thing. However, most parents would beg to differ – especially after witnessing their kids’ behaviour getting completely out of hand after devouring the entire contents of yet another party bag. Many parents will vouch that kids go bananas when they eat too much sugar, followed by the lethargy that's experienced as their body tries to deal with all that unneeded surplus energy.

As Sha discovered, there are many alternatives to sugar that can be used when baking mouth-watering treats for your kids – alternatives that won’t affect their blood sugar levels. The sweetness in her recipes derives from ingredients such as: stevia, which is a naturally derived concentrate with zero calories; rice syrup, which is fructose free; and coconut sugar, which is low GI. To fuel the body, her recipes are high in protein, nuts, natural fats and butter. Anecdotal evidence suggests that by eliminating sugar and following a high protein diet, children benefit both physically and mentally – some of the benefits include a leaner body, and a sharper, more focused mind. These nutritious treats also keep them fuller for longer, so sugar cravings don't exist in her house.

Sounds amazing? Others thought so, too. Upon request, Sha began sharing her own tasty, homemade recipes with her mothers’ group. The network of people sharing Sha’s recipes grew organically. Sha spent her days baking, taking photos and uploading her recipes onto her newly created website. Now with over 60,000 followers, Sha is sharing her recipes with the broader community, and changing the way we feed our kids. Mothers crave these recipes and are actively searching for this information. Since starting ‘Sugar Free Kids’ in 2012, there has been a massive surge in websites dedicated to healthy eating for kids. The ‘I Quit Sugar’ movement has gained lots of momentum and is closely aligned with the philosophy behind ‘Sugar Free Kids’.

If you’re worried about where to find pantry items such as stevia and rice syrup, then rest assured. Good quality, organic, natural ingredients have never been more accessible. Gone are the days when you had to travel five suburbs away, to a health food shop that looked like it hadn’t shifted stock in years. Now, local organic grocers are gaining popularity and have a presence in many neighbourhoods. In addition, supermarkets keep expanding their organic and health food aisles.

Have you been inspired by Sha’s story? If you’re a parent who wants to fuel your children with a healthy diet that will nourish, satisfy, and delight them, then perhaps this is the journey for you.

Interviewed by Helen. Sha lives in Hawthorn with her husband and two gorgeous children. You can access her recipes at www.sugarfreekids.com.au

POPULAR LUNCH BOX FILLERS

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