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natural awakenings September 2013 5

eady, set, go! It’s back to school again, and all of us busy mothers and families are off! The lazy days of summer are behind us and it’s once again time for homework, projects, making lunches and after-school activities. I know that being structured and organized in my family is the key to success. We don’t always manage to keep this up, but we start off strong every year with intentions of managing it all.

I find that adequate rest and a proper diet are essential to my children’s day-to-day functioning and maintaining their energy levels for their busy workload. With one daughter in college, I do my best to encourage her to eat healthy and shop for nutritious foods.

Debra Tucker

The biggest challenge for me is the junk food sold in the middle school that my 8th grader attends. Although she makes great choices for a child her age, she is tempted, like many of us, with treats when they are presented. She recently asked me, “Hey Mom, just how much sugar is too much for someone my age?” Great question. I explained the little trick I use when making decisions about sweets: four grams of sugars on a label equals one teaspoon of sugar. This includes naturally occurring sugars, such as lactose and fructose, plus added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, honey and evaporated cane juice. We walked around the kitchen examining labels and measuring the sugar in a zip lock bag. She was shocked how quickly it added up, even for just a few healthier-option cookies I buy at my local health food store. How many teaspoons of sugar is your family consuming per day? Let’s take a quick look at juice. A popular brand of juice has 28 grams of sugar per juice box, with only 10 percent real fruit juice! That’s seven teaspoons of sugar! About eight years ago, I calculated that my children were consuming a minimum of 28 teaspoons of sugar per day in beverages alone. Then I started looking at the “natural” fruit snacks and other treats and realized my family was way over an acceptable amount per day. We substituted seltzer water, with added lemon or other fresh fruit slices, in place of juices immediately. It took a few weeks before the complaining waned but eventually they realized that we were not going back. I found that brewing homemade herbal tea in flavors such as licorice, mint, lemon and berry and served chilled became a family favorite. Add a dash of stevia natural sweetener and they really love it. I hope you enjoy the article “Sugar Monster: How Sweet It Isn’t” by Kathleen Barnes in this issue. I am hopeful that it will encourage you to look closely at your family’s sugar consumption and make changes where you see fit for your family. My family still enjoys cake on birthdays and frozen yogurts on hot summer days, but moderation is our action plan. Although it was hard work in the beginning, my family realized that we were never giving up anything. Rather we were moving toward something better.

Health and happiness,

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