A new year, a new start and despite being a fairly healthy family eating a diet comprised mainly of fresh, seasonal food and leading an outdoorsy life with long country walks, bike rides and running…there’s always room for improvement and limiting the boys’ sugar intake and becoming a healthier family is how we’ve kicked off January.

It’s hard of course over the Christmas period, especially for kids as temptation is everywhere so once the festive period was out of the way, I took a stance and have limited sugar in this house.

I personally always limit my sugar intake and eat a low GI, low carb diet but it was time to cut down on the white stuff that sends the kids crazy too.

Within days I noticed a huge difference, particularly in my eldest Oliver, nearly 4 and we’re sticking to one treat day a week (usually Saturday in this house) for the kids.

So many items are saturated with sugar from white, refined cereals to fresh orange and apple juice and even raisins (bad for the teeth too) so they have all been replaced. Water or  heavily diluted fresh orange (as above) or milk are our go to drinks and it’s all about the wholegrains in this house and snacks of fruit for EVERYONE.

As a family we choose not to eat aspartame or any other sugar replacements either.

The baby, Alexander (15 months) didn’t have much sugar in his diet anyway bar lots of fresh fruit which of course we all eat but some of the differences I have found with Oliver from day one and over the last week are as follows:

1. More energy throughout the day.

2. Fewer mood swings and tantrums-generally better behaved as his blood sugars are balanced without the crashing sugar lows.

3. Sleeping much better. Fewer episodes of nightmares common for his age and much more restful nights.

4. Greater attention span/ less frustration.

5. Eating more at dinner time as eating fewer sugary snacks throughout the day.

We will definitely be sticking to this healthier way of eating.

And it seems we’re not the only ones making ‘smart swaps’ either.

Smart Swaps logo

This January sees the launch of a major new Change4Life campaign, ‘Smart Swaps’, to help families cut sugar and saturated fat from their everyday snacks, drinks and meals.

Change4Life is calling on families across the nation to sign up to ‘Smart Swaps’ and make one easy change – like swapping sugary drinks to milk or water for example – for January. In doing so, an average family could save up to three quarters of a bag of sugar over four weeks.

Those who sign up to the ‘Smart Swaps’ campaign will receive a FREE Smart Swapper full of healthier swap and meal ideas, money off vouchers and fridge magnets as well as supportive emails and texts throughout the month. A FREE Smart Recipes app will also be available with tasty, quick and healthier meal ideas, which can be downloaded from iTunes and GooglePlay.

To sign-up and choose your swaps this January, search Change4Life online or click here.

A fantastic resource for those, like us who want to make a real difference and help our kids to stay healthy and happy.

Will you be cutting down on sugar too?



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59 Responses

  1. Mostlyagree

    Good article @Honestmum. I completely agree with your article, but thought I’d take the time to comment as there is something you said regarding salt which I strenuously disagree with. Salt is a very important part of our diet (refined sugar is pure poison and should be completely avoided) and I believe that if one doesn’t have a salt addiction (as say people who eat processed foods probably do) then you can use it to taste – i.e. your body will tell you how much you need. It is important to use a natural salt (like Maldon, for example) as the generic salt found in the supermarket lacks many of the important minerals and is just sodium.

  2. Mrs O Stevenson

    H’mmm. Its always dangerous when people pontificate about food. It is well known that humans had to evolve tolerance to cows milk, and many didn’t, so milk drinks and other dairy products are not always ‘good’ for children (and adults!) Usually the opposite. But we are badgered to think so by the hugely powerful milk producers lobby. And likewise, wheat based foods, even wholemeal, are not always tolerated. Also many fruits are grown with high sugar levels, especially modern apples, and with high levels of pesticides embedded in the skins in particular. Have you though of any of this??

    • honestmum

      @Mrs O Stevenson I am simply blogging about my own family’s choices not pontificating dangerously! Yes I agree about wheat and milk and I personally only eat spelt bread as I have a sensitivity towards wheat. There is a limit to what I wanted to blog in this particular post and it’s impossible to cover absolutely everything in a short post but in previous posts I write about limiting dairy product, particularly for my son who has chronic ear infections and was recommended to lower or replace dairy with organic soya products by medical professionals.

      My family and I do eat mostly organic fruit, veg, meat and dairy products but I realise not everyone can afford or wishes to buy organic. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  3. Steph

    A few years ago I started looking at the ingredients and content profiles of the products I was buying regularly and was shocked at how much sugar was in them! A few of the things we do differently now is buying natural yoghurt (and frozen raspberries) instead of flavoured; making our own mayonnaise, when we want it; and we found a few types of bread with much less sugar in – and occasionally baking our own… that doesn’t happen more than once a fortnight 🙂
    But we do drink OJ for breakfast… and it was a great tip to start watering that down a bit! I’ll be taking that one gradually… children accepting/not even noticing a change makes daily life a little bit smoother 😉

    • honestmum

      @Steph thanks for your comments, it really is startling how much sugar is in so many common everyday foods. Everything in moderation and my kids now don’t notice the watering down of the juice.

  4. Steph

    Wow! You’ve been taking some kicking here Vicky! …totally missed looking at the comments section first time I was here…
    I’m eager to see what you’re planning on swapping in feb 😉

  5. Lindie Rochelle

    I too am a 30-somthing mother of two and we like you have decided to reduce our sugar intake this year. Because of this I read your article with great interest. I was very disappointent when I scroll down to find the change 4 life small steps logo, as well as further support for the campaign. My reason is this. My 5 yr old girls came home from school with one of these smart swap leaflets. At first I was delighted. I was very interested to see if they had any new healthy ideas for meals, snacks or lunch boxes. I was however completely shocked to find they promoted the idea that drinking sugar free, aspartemine laden soda was ok whikst at the same time advocating placing children with developing brains onto low fat or fat free dairy. While their intention may be good their information is misleading and I feel preys on the most vulnerable of society who will assume that if a government backed initiative says so, pepsi max must be good for you. I look forward to your views on this matter

    • Honest Mum

      @Lindie I can only speak for my family and we too do not use sugar replacements or aspartame as mentioned in my post, thanks for your comment.

    • bob

      There really isn’t much evidence against aspartame. The problem seems to be far more at the level of allergic reactions than a poisonous substance like sugar, nocotein etc.

      I agree about the fat, though. We should all be wary of cutting fat, and it’s appalling that the traditional anti fat stance is still the official view.

      • honestmum

        @bob thanks for this, yes there appears to be a lot of conflicting facts on aspartame. I personally don’t like the way it makes me feel when I’ve had it unknowingly and it’s my choice for my family not to use it. This anti fat notion needs to end. Good fats: olive oil, avocado, coconut oil to name just three are wonderful examples of nourishing fats.

  6. Chris Maslanka

    What you say is spot on. Sugar used by the food industry is used as a cheap bulking agent without regard to the health of the customers damaged by it. Taking sugar should be a choice and not a default option. Give your chidlren a head start in health!

  7. David Lienard

    I’m 86 years old, I suffer from type 2 diabetes and am overweight. I have stopped all bread and have porridge for breakfast with 2 saccharine tablets instead of sugar and the fat has dropped off, especially since I have began to walk everywhere instead of getting the bus, the Government should be forced into imposing more restrictive laws on sugar content, but of course, they are in the pockets of the food industry, so forget any help there!

    • honestmum

      @David great to hear that. Definitely beneficial to all to reduce sugar and refined carbs and of course have an active lifestyle. Well done you.

  8. Yossi

    Two points.
    Sugar is addictive and a killer – like cigarettes. Would you cut down on cigarettes or eliminate them?
    There is no such thing as healthy whole grains – they still end up as glucose and also contain gliadin which will cause inflammation in the gut.

    • dan smith

      Eliminate sugar? What about fruit, where sugar occurs naturally as fructose? Eliminate all fruit too? And a lot of veg? Eliminate that? And chocolate? And just about every dessert there is? And alcohol? Or…just consume in moderation.

      • Yossi

        Depends how healthy you wanna be. What is moderation? One fag, two fags, ten fags.

      • dan smith

        Moderation, Yossi, is defined by the dictionary as “Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme”. So, using your criteria, one spoon of sugar in a cup of coffee may be seen as moderate, but 5 would be excessive. One or five pieces of fruit a day (as advised by government) is moderate, but 20 excessive. Eliminating all fruit, veg, chocolate, desserts as you would have it…definitely excessive and extreme. And, with all due respect, pretty silly.

      • Yossi

        As someone who obviously thinks they are not pretty silly you are quoting government advice in this matter. With all die respect that is pretty mad.
        ‘As I would have it’. Mmm I see what you did there. No, people will do as they wish and they always have done. I am just providing information to try and combat the usual nonsense.
        I advise eating masses of non-starchy veg, lots of good protein – oh and 85% or over choc. I would advise eliminating all table sugar, juices, soda, fructose products, breakfast cerial, bread, pasta, in fact all processed food, which contains masses of sugar and salt. If you want good rather than moderate health go for real food. Best wishes.

      • honestmum

        @Yossi thanks for your comment, I agree with your list of good food and that is how we eat for the majority of the time. Thanks for taking time to engage with the post and offer your views.

      • honestmum

        @Dan just seen your response and wholeheartedly agree. We are as a family hugely reducing refined carbs and sugar but have the odd treat on a saturday because life would be too boring without and food is such a great pleasure!

      • John Atkins

        Nobody has as yet mentioned the effect that high sugar diet has on cancer. Tumours shrink in the absence of blood glucose so cutting down on carbs and glucose generally is not only good for diabetics but also those with cancer. If you are unfortunate to develop cancer it is worth looking into the ketogenic diet which is basically very low carb (high protein and fat) but has been proven to be effective against tumours in many documented cases. Certainly giving refined sugar to someone with cancer is not at all helpful!!

      • honestmum

        @Dan not sure if you are responding to me or Yossi but we are not eliminating sugar but limiting it and eat a balanced diet with a lot of low sugar fruit. Moderation is key and moderation in moderation too-so the odd treat is fine.

      • Honest Mum

        @John thanks for your comment re cancer. I was not aware of this so will research it with interest. Thanks for taking time to comment.

    • honestmum

      @Yossi not all sugar is bad for you though-it’s about keeping your blood sugar balanced and low sugar fruit (eaten with the fibre) is highly beneficial for you so apples, oranges, berries etc.

  9. angela telford

    A lot of women giving up/reducing sugar will also find that their PMT symptoms reduce dramatically.

    • honestmum

      @angela yes, reducing/omitting refined carbs and sugar (bar low sugar fruit) helps alleviate PMT. Actually was discussing the matter with a specialist just today!

  10. David Moorcraft

    I’ve cut out sugar (in tea etc and everything else I can think of for months, but difficult sometimes to see the sugar HIDDEN in processed foods. Really didn’t know raisins are bad – I’ve been snacking loads …. Ooops ! stopped now thanks !

      • liz

        I see that Lidl has moved sweets away from the checkouts BUT they’ve replaced them with………………………..dried fruit!!!
        Oh dear, it seems the manufacturer’s marketing ploys are duping the retailers now!

  11. liz

    As long as people DO NOT replace food and drink with aspartame loaded stuff then there’s nothing to worry about. As soon as diets include aspartame and other artificial chemicals as the Change4life advert suggests, the NHS had better look out for more incidences of cancer, blindness, liver & kidney disease and a whole host of other deadly illnesses.

  12. Lisa Bedlow

    This is a really useful article which I have forwarded to friends. The more I have read and researched about refined sugars the more I realise how dangerous it is.

    I had a diagnosis of Candida a few years ago and had to cut sugar out of my diet for 8 weeks to clear the yeast infection from my body. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do – partly because although I don’t have a sweet tooth I craved sugar and had withdrawal headaches from giving it up. Also I noticed that it is in almost everything! Foods have to be as natural and pure as possible.

    Good luck to all those who recognise the importance and value of doing this! It is life – changing!

    • honestmum

      @Lisa well done you for quitting it. It is in everything and when consumed in fruit with the fibre this lowers the GI and can be beneficial. I personally stay away from high sugar fruit and only eat say bananas occasionally but my family eat them freely. Limiting white carbs and refined sugar for the majority of the time for all of us has really helped regulate blood sugar, energy, mood and our health. Everything in moderation though and the odd treat is fine!

      • Lankylad

        I have used sugar daily since childhood. I am well past retirement now, and am fit and active. Never been on a diet, but married to a good cook!

      • honestmum

        @Lankylad thanks for your comment. The research proves it’s not good for you so maybe stay away from it from now on?!

      • northbynorthwest

        Dear honestmum. I would be interested in hearing what qualifications you have to give this kind of advice, particularly to specific comments from people like @lankylad. I note you have not replied to Lindie, the first poster, and others, about the issue of aspartame and chemical additives in food. I agree with you about sugar – it is a refined food and all refined and processed foods should be avoided. It’s commonsense – these foods are not what we ate as we evolved and our bodies do not have the mechanisms to process them effectively, hence the sugar induced highs and lows and candida previously mentioned, etc etc. However, the same can be said for chemical additives like aspartame – they are processed substances and not natural. I hesitate to give advice as I am not qualified to do so, but commonsense suggests aiming to eat natural foodstuffs, minimally processed.

      • Honest Mum

        Thanks @northbynorthwest I have mentioned directly in my post my family and I do not use aspartame. The comment directed at @lankylad was specifically regarding research on sugar. I am a filmmaker and lecturer (qualifications and levels I teach at are BA, MA) and blogger, freelance writer.

        This blog reflects my personal views and choices for my family and I. I am not a nutritionalist or doctor nor pose to be. This is an opinion led post. The research is clear that sugar (and salt) is detrimental to health. I personally do not use sugar replacements or aspartame as mentioned clearly in my post irrespective of whether I have had time to reply to every comment (of which now I have done).

        Thanks for taking time to share you views.

  13. Emily

    If you read the Smart Swops guide it actually advises to swop Sugary Pop for Sugar Free (aspartame laced) Pop. If this really well thought advice from the government?! I was horrified to find this leaflet sent home in my six year old son’s bag and apparently it went out to every other primary age child in the country. Not enough people understand about the dangers of Aspartame.

  14. Rebecca Chicot

    A great article and a good message for families. My daughter has coeliac disease and was addicted to sugar as she was not absorbing much. After she was diagnosed we started eating high protein breakfasts (scrambled eggs or bacon and avocado) and the difference was amazing.
    I actually feel almost ill if I eat sugary cereal or toast now as I’ve come off that addiction that so many of us unknowingly live with.
    Good luck with it!

    • honestmum

      @Rebecca thanks for your comment, it’s wonderful to read about people transforming their lives through diet. Reducing/limited refined carbs and sugar makes a difference to health and well being.

  15. Metropolitan Mum

    Sugar is evil! I think companies like Kellogg’s et al are the worst, as they paint a picture perfect image of a healthy lifestyle and lead kids to believe they’d be OK to eat, when in fact, they are worse than your average sweetie.

    • dan smith

      Sugar is neither evil nor good. It is a chemical, and our bodies actually require quite a lot of it to work. Companies who dose processed food with large amounts of sugar and market them as “healthy products” are potentially quite evil. But that is all major corporations, not just Kellog’s. It’s every single major food producer, and every government which knowingly allows them to profit hugely at the expense of the nation’s health – which is every single government. So don’t look to outside agencies to resolve this issue. Take responsibility for your own health and that of your family. As the great food writer Michael Pollan prescribed: “eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants”. Can’t go wrong.

      • honestmum

        @Dan thanks, we eat a Mediterranean diet and would agree with your proposal for healthy eating as that is how we eat. Thanks for taking time to engage with the post and comment.

      • Rich

        Excellent comments Dan. It’s really not difficult. Prepare food from scratch, control the added stuff, bin the carbs, major on the broad-leafed green veg, when you eat meat, eat Bambi.

        Do some exercise, get the heart pumping. 5 days a week. Yes, 5, not 3. Government health organisations only recommend 3 days because they know most people will hear 5 and think “no way”. Just like we should eat 10 a day on the fruit & veg front but government viewed that as too stretching a target so plumped for 5 a day as more “achievable”.

        Bottom line, take control of your own intake. Not exactly brain science, I know. Or rocket surgery, come to that.

        Oh, and read the labels. Wow, what a shocker!

      • honestmum

        @Rich Thanks for your comments. There is no need to bin all carbs, low GI slow releasing carbs including spelt bread, pulses, beans and lentils are all of great nutritional value. Yes refined, white carbs are utterly futile upsetting blood sugar levels and contributing towards ill health. The Mediterranean diet follows the principle of at least 10 items of fruit and veg and is one we as a family naturally follow. I do believe in moderation though and every so often a treat will not harm!

      • bob

        When people say our bodies need a lot of sugar, they imply that we need, therefore, to eat that sugar. We don’t. Our bodies can synthesise the glucose we need from other macronutrients.

  16. Luci - Mother.Wife.Me

    Hurrah for you, such a good move. M has minimal sugar and mainly drinks water, my aim is to keep her from the sugar addiction that I still fight! Mind you, as of tomorrow morning, it’s goodbye sugar for me for the month… yikes!!!

    • honestmum

      @Luci that’s good and have seen a difference since we’ve stopped. You are so slim, you’re so lucky! Hope sugar free Jan goes well!


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