Jen M.

Is It OK to Say No to Sugar?

When I was a little girl (we’re talking like 2 years old), my mom tried limiting the sugar in my diet. After only a couple of days, she found me pounding on my neighbor’s door yelling, “Give me Kool-Aid!® Give me Kool-Aid!” I was clearly going through withdrawal! Since that time, I’ve had a complicated relationship with sugar. I still LOVE it. While French fries can sit in front of me all day long and I won’t touch them, put a box of chocolate chip cookies near me and watch that box disappear! As a result, I’ve been trying to avoid sugar altogether, trying to put away my temptation most of my adult life.

When James was born, I was determined to feed him perfectly. I consulted all the books. I introduced him to green veggies first, never more than one new veggie every three days. He ate mostly organic food made from scratch. We only drank milk and water at the dinner table. Because he was the oldest kid in the family, he happily accepted our healthy eating style, having nothing to really compare it with.

Now, we did permit him to eat sweets with his family and friends. He’s always loved birthday cake and donuts, but to this day he doesn’t like any chocolate, any kind of pie, or most kinds of cookies. He’s warmed up nicely to ice cream — he has lots of positive role models there!

I found that when James was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and I learned the errors in my misconceptions of diabetes, my attitude started changing in an odd way. I started feeling like James needed to eat sugar, if for no other reason than to show the world that kids with type 1 CAN eat sugar. Because it’s true. Thanks to more advanced insulins and more sophisticated insulin regimens, James can have really nice blood sugars after a pretty crummy, sugar-filled meal.

But that isn’t really the point. Sure, he can eat sugar just like you or I can, but should ANY of us really consume a lot of sugar? Although it’s been a few years since James’ diagnosis, I’m just now making my peace with the idea that it’s okay to say no to sugar.

So these days I continue my advocacy, letting friends and neighbors know that they don’t have to buy James a special product with sugar substitutes, while also practicing saying no to the many requests from my children for any number of foods that just aren’t nutritionally worthy. With my new outlook, I consider a request from James the same as I would from either Luke or any child I’m caring for. I often say, “No, you can’t have another cookie. Not because you have diabetes, but because nobody needs that many cookies!”

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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