no sugar for teens

I could never do that

“After studying your son’s symptoms, medical history and test results, I think the only way he’s going to be able to heal his body is by completely eliminating gluten and sugar.” As my son’s doctor is explaining the plan to me, the only thing I can think is “I could never do that.”

Over the next few weeks I keep thinking about this cleanse idea. It seems impossible, and yet, my son is tired all the time, missing a ton of school and sports due to illnesses, and is grumpy and mean to his sister. It seems like his only source of current happiness IS sugar and it’s always been our go-to bribe/reward. He’s in middle school so pretty much every celebration or event revolves around those two food groups. The thought of eliminating it completely seems impossible and cruel. Without it, what will he eat? On the other hand, it doesn’t sound healthy to think sugar is anyone’s main source of happiness.

During the next month, I keep hearing people talk about “cleansing”. Somehow the topic of elimination diets and cleanses shows up at every social event I go to. Talking to other people about it makes it seem more doable. I take a class, talk to a fabulous Arbonne representative and make a plan that my husband (who has no trouble doing anything drastic and dramatic) and I, will do a cleanse before we ask our son to do it.

We drink shakes and eat lots of vegetables, 1/4 cup of lean protein, 1 Tbls, of fat, every day. And it was fine. Challenging, but not impossible. Interesting and eye opening. We both learned a lot about our bodies, our hormones and how we react to certain foods. But the most life-altering lesson I learned was: Just because I’m saying I could never do something, doesn’t make it true. It made me wonder, what else am I saying I could never do?

My son is now a 10th grader and has been off sugar for three years. A challenge I would have labeled as impossible for a teenager surrounded by the stuff. It took a while to find all the hidden sources: ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressing, but it has been so worth it. We all realized that once we eliminated sugar, the craving for it disappeared. My son (and my husband) felt SO MUCH BETTER without that garbage in their diet, that the good feeling ended up being the motivator. (I learned that I still need my carbs or I’m a weeping puddle of hormones). It’s eating sugar, that creates the craving for sugar. My son started being nicer to his sister, his mood elevated, he started sleeping better, getting sick less, and eventually got his energy back. Halloween is a challenge and he’s always testing to see if sugar is still a problem, but when he eats too much, he gets reminded of how horrible it feels. If I had continued to believe “I could never do that”, my son wouldn’t be experiencing the health he has today.

What do you hear yourself saying you can never do? There’s a big difference between saying “I have no interest in…(writing a book, running a marathon, starting a business)…than saying “I could never do that.” Check in with yourself and see which one is more true? If you are interested, but believing you could never do that, suspend your disbelief and start listening, researching, and being open to hearing the stories of other people who have overcome their same disbelief as you. You might just surprise yourself.

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