'I will now starve and die': what happened when my family (almost) went sugar free for a week

Giving up sugar yourself is one thing; getting kids to do so is another entirely.
Giving up sugar yourself is one thing; getting kids to do so is another entirely.  Photo: Shutterstock

My love for chocolate (and cakes and ice-cream) knows no bounds. It's been a long-term love affair, fuelled further during pregnancy, when suffering from stress, PMT or just generally having a bad day.

It's my pick me up at 3pm when I slump, and my treat after dinner with a cup of tea. Unfortunately, my love of sugar is also rivalled by that of my son's.

He's happy to eat cake after ice-cream after chocolate until he's practically green. He can sniff out a sugary treat from miles away and the rustle of a chocolate wrapper brings him running from wherever he is.

My husband's not a sugar fan and my two-year-old is yet to develop this crush - though he's increasingly showing interest.

The thought of going seven days sugar free fills me with dread. Exercising my already weak willpower will prove challenge enough. Explaining to my son takes it to another level.

Here's my daily account of a week without sugar.

Monday

This morning starts off OK, as you'd expect – even we don't eat chocolate for breakfast. But, then the question of the advent calendars arises.

Realistically sugar-free means sugar-free, I know, but try telling that to a seven-year-old at Christmas. I make the executive decision that he's allowed his advent chocolate, but very clearly say that's all.

Advertisement

For the remainder of the day things are easy enough, with work as a distraction and the kids at school. Still enthralled by the challenge of it all, my son comes home and happily swaps his ice-cream for fruit after dinner.

Tuesday

Much like Monday, in the morning we're all committed to completing the challenge. I remind myself and my son that it's ONLY seven days, and read articles about all the benefits we'll reap. Bring on the energy, glowing skin and lust for life.

Before touch rugby my son always has a snack – often it's Nutella on bread. Today that's what he wants. My explanation that it's like eating teaspoons of sugar is not greeted well. His exact response is, "Do you understand I will now starve and die?"

Dramatic, much?

But in the evening with my tea, I start to feel his pain.

Wednesday

Battling work deadlines and refereeing fighting children is doing little to stop me rocking in the corner with the Nutella jar and a spoon.

I feel tired and down and am longing for a sweet pick-me-up. At the shops there are Christmas goodies galore, and the bakery has never smelt so good. Even the most unattractive of cakes start to appeal.

I go to bed early with my tea and sulk.

Thursday

Today is hard. It's cupcake day at school and I've sent my son without any money. I know that this will be the biggest test of his willpower and, quite frankly, I know he'll fail. What sugar-loving child wouldn't?

He's honest enough to admit that he did get something (thanks for the money loan, Mrs G), although reassures me that he chose jelly instead of cake. I've no idea if that's healthier or not, or if it's even the truth, but I let it slide. Four days in and he's doing pretty well.

Friday

Without the distraction of lollies and chocolate in the house (I threw them all out pre-challenge) my son seems to be faring well. He's taken to eating more fruit and snacking on crackers or the like. Me, however, not so much.

Tonight, I go out with the girls for our Christmas bash and spend most of the evening staring longingly at the array of desserts. I'm tempted to lean over and smell them up close, though fear I'll reach out to lick … and that's kind of weird and socially unacceptable.

Saturday

It's the weekend and we've cracked five days, but I'm just about ready to throw myself off the sofa – ideally into a vat of chocolate.

The weekend is when we have extra 'treats' – my reward for generally surviving motherhood, and justified by five days at the gym. My son just because he's spoilt!

Tonight, I cave. I go to the shops and buy chocolate. I share it with my son who's happy the challenge is over …or should I say failed. I'm disappointed in myself but, sometimes, that's life.

Sunday

Today we go for ice-cream. We all have a double scoop (except Mr who only managed one) and walk along the beach after. It's a great day.

Trying to complete a week without sugar was tough. I missed my fix and felt really grumpy. I know these are side effects of withdrawals and that these cravings would pass. But it didn't motivate me to consider doing it long term.

The challenge made me realise just how much sugar we consume and how some little changes could curb that habit for the better – which I will try to do.

But would I give it up completely, or totally withhold it from my sons? Honestly, no.

I'm a believer in moderation and that life is for living.

If a little sugar makes us smile, then so be it – there are plenty worse things we could do.