The delicious devil
Sugar. Sweet, sweet sugar. I truly believe sugar is the DEEEELICIOUS devil. I have always been a sugar lover.
In fact, I am the first to admit, I, Jacintha Akkerman, AM A SUGAR ADDICT. For me, sugar is like crack. I eat one piece and it turns to one block, two blocks. You know the delicious story. Then it’s like my body can’t stop. I crave it. I eat it. I eat more. Then I get grumpy.
When I gave birth, I knew my baby boy, Axel, would have the same genes as his queen-sugar-eating mumma. So I knew I needed to implement some changes from the beginning. I needed to be strong and try to limit the amount of sugar he was exposed to, and start his life with nourishing foods.
Axel is in childcare twice a week and has a babysitter on one other day of the week. So on Mondays and weekends, I ensure he eats as many fruit and veggies as possible. We shop together. We cook together and we just built a veggie patch in our front garden. I am very passionate about teaching him about the foods he is eating and how they affect his behaviour and moods.
What I can't control the number of chocolate teddy bear biscuits Axel devours at mum's house, but what I can control is what he eats when he is with me. One of our favourite things to do together is cook, so each week we make healthy meals and snacks to encourage him to eat nutritious food. At dinner time, we go out to the garden together and Axel helps pick the lettuce and herbs to go in our salad and as the other veggies grow, we will incorporate them too. I like the make the process an experience for him and I always ask for his help to make him feel like part of the process.
I am very lucky that Axel loves fresh fruit and veggies because they have been pumped into him from a young age, and I've tried to limit his exposure to other foods - with a lot of emphasis on the word 'try'. He still loves to smash marshmallows at cafes and "yellow" chippies at every opportunity he can. Now he is three he is beginning to become a little fussy with his foods, so I need to ensure I educate him why food from the land is so important. We have one rule in our house when it comes to food, you must try it and if you don't like it you don't have to have it. Needless to say once he tries something most times he will eat it or screw up his face and chuck it in the bin - but hey are least we tried.
As Axel's mum, I want to inspire and help him understand why things are good and not-so-good for him so I talk to him about food like I would talk to an adult. For instance, I don't love dairy, that's not to say we don't have it, just that we don't have it much and generally speaking its very minimal.. When Axel has too much dairy (yogurt, milk ect) he generally gets sick. So when he gets sick or if he has a sore belly, we ask him "did you have milk today?", "how did it make you feel?". We do this so he recognises the relationship between what he eats and how he feels, rather than just saying "you can eat dairy".
As parents we are role models for our kids, therefore we need to lead by example. We are there to guide our little ones. It has taken me 36 years to understand my body. So at age three, he has a long way to go to understand his body, but that doesn't mean we can't start teaching him early on in life, so by the time he is an adult he has a better understanding of himself and his body.
We certainly don't eat healthy all the time, when we do eat right, I like to treat us. "If you eat your veggies tomorrow ill make you ice cream?" The ice cream is homemade with banana but regardless he still thinks its a special treat and he feels rewarded. Or if we go to a cafe and he asks for a cupcake, sometimes I get it for him. Once it was a cupcake the size of his head covered in freckles and resulted in a not-so-pleasant-cafe-sugar-high experience, but hey we all learn lessons haha. Life is meant to be enjoyed no matter what age you are. But there needs to be balance.
Healthy food isn’t boring. It is still full of flavour and a much better alternative to nourish our insides and our soul. Everyone is wired differently so some of us can eat as much sugar as we want and not feel affected, others like me, turn into a lunatic.
It is quite easy to eat healthily, simply by substituting things like cauliflower instead of white rice. Sweet potato or parsnips chips instead of ordinary chips. Paleo pancakes (egg, coconut, and banana) instead of regular pancakes.
I try to live by an 80/20 rule. 80% good and 20% fun food, and when I do treat myself (which sometimes can mean I devour 2-4 blocks of chocolate), I don’t obsess over it like I used to. We all need to be rewarded every now and then.
I am a true believer that “we are what we eat”, so nourishing myself with natural foods has made a massive difference to my body and mind. Eating healthy is the first step I took to start on my journey of enlightenment, so I hope to inspire and empower you on your journey xo