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Mom, the drug pusher - it all seemed so innocent at the time

Monday, April 01, 2013

It all started when me daughter was 10 days old. We knew better than to feed our baby sugar. In fact I had done the best I could during pregnancy to eat a healthy diet (or what I thought was healthy at the time) including lots of vegetables, some organic, lots of fruit, lots of whole grains and beans, moderate amounts of lean animal products. I also exercised all the way through pregnancy and had a baby of normal weight, 7lbs. 7 oz.
So we were really just having a little fun when we were enjoying a French Silk pie that had lots of wheat, chocolate, dairy and most of all sugar in it. Offering our daughter a taste seemed like a natural thing and after all it was only half a teaspoon or so. But that was only the beginning. In spite of our eating a reasonably healthy diet, still way better than the SAD, we did indulge in desserts regularly as well. It was not that unusual for me to eat a while 3oz. chocolate bar in one sitting and as our daughter grew up she came to expect sweet treats on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day. This was many years before we knew about the dangers of wheat in any form and our knowledge about sugar was largely limited to knowing that it may make people fat and that it is "bad" for you. We also assumed from superficial reading that it is normal and natural to crave sweet things, even wild and certainly domestic animals will take any opportunity to enjoy sweet foods when they can, so eating them occasionally (and for some reason I convinced myself that several times a day on some days qualified as occasionally) could not be THAT bad. Both my own weight and that of our daughter was always within "reasonable" limits, even then. I had managed to lose the majority of excess weight in my early 20's just by eating more natural foods, less junk food and exercising a lot. But that little belly in front told a different story. I remember my body fat percentage getting tested about 10 years ago and it was about 30%, not a very good number, but typical "skinny-fat". Within the first two years after my daughter was born I had started noticing reduced stress tolerance, reduced exercise tolerance, fatigue, some mild allergies, mood changes, all things that most people would attribute to the general experience of having children which includes getting up at night a lot for several years. Doubtless those were factors, but maybe just the factors that pushed my body over the edge. About 9 years ago I discovered that my thyroid values were abnormal, which my doctor tested for because of my low blood pressure and feeling cold a lot more than normal. At the time my blood sugar levels were still in the normal range with A1C at 5.2
My daughter was always healthy and very athletic through most of her childhood.
Fastforward to 2011: My daugther is now 15 and dealing with acne, consuming sugar daily in smaller amount (no soda pop, almost no juice, no gluten-grains), on average maybe 20-30 grams/day, although overall eating a healthy diet with carbs between 100-150 grams/day.
But still, she is dealing with carb cravings almost daily, evident in her looking for chocolate, sweet fruit and gluten-free pastries. She had at this point read Mark Sisson's "The Primal Blueprint" and was familiar with the basics of healthy eating.
After I had my A1C level tested and found that I was pre-diabetic at 5.9, in spite of eating fairly low carb I decided that my daughter needed to be tested, too. Her level was 5.7, still pre-diabetic, although on the border. Her physician recommended to lower carbs just a little bit, but 3 months later her A1C was still 5.7, not surprising to me, because at this point I was very aware how often she would snack on sweet things. She did not gain any weight by the way, in part due to genetics and an active life style. So a couple of days ago we had a long talk.
She already knew all the facts about insulin, low-carb eating and how it allows us to control blood sugar levels without medication from watching me. My own blood sugar levels had gone down from A1C of 5.9 to 5.7 over the course of about 6 months. The fact that at her age her levels were now the same as mine concerned me. So I went more into detail about the benefits of a low-carb, ketogenic diet, in particular the effect of eliminating or at least substantially reducing food cravings and eliminating the need to eat frequently. I also talked about the fact that there are really no other options that I can see to get her blood sugar level down without the use of drugs. At the same time I felt very remorseful that I had been the one pushing the sugar drug or at least allowing it's use at an age when the sugar habit could have been prevented. But then I also realized that in our culture she probably would have wanted to try all those foods that her friends eat eventually.
In any case, after showing some definite signs of going through the grieving stages (denial, anger at me, the messenger of bad tidings, and the world, sadness) and a lot of "testing the facts" she decided to give this paleo-low-carb thing an honest try. This past Saturday was probably the hardest day for her, including lots of physical sugar-withdrawal symptoms, many talks about carbs with me trying to listen more than talking, trying to find out if a little would be ok... . By Saturday night this had turned into some positive plans for making a low-carb cheesecake which she did make on Sunday morning with a raw nut crust, cream cheese, gelatin and "Just like Sugar" non-caloric sweetener.
We had a great day, going for hike having 3 wonderful paleo/low-carb meals and fortunately beautiful, sunny weather to lift anyone's mood.
I suspect this struggle is long from over completely but really am just hoping we can find lots of good, healthy foods for snacks and meals. We have another shopping trip planned for this afternoon and will do a lot of cooking and baking this week.
If anyone has experiences or questions concerning getting their kids over sugar and/or carb addictions I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime we are taking it one day at a time, maybe it will turn into a little bit of a competition who can get their blood sugar level down first. emoticon
I'm going to try to be as supportive and encouraging as I can, focusing on rewarding positive efforts rather than nagging about mistakes she makes while trying to be a role model.
If I can protect my daughter from some of the bad effects that sugar had on my body, probably including cancer as well as the things already mentioned, this would be my biggest reward.
I know that we can do it, and so can anyone else. emoticon emoticon emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • ZIGGY122
    Thank you for sharing.... what a good Mom... time spent with daugher is priceless
    1691 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    I'm glad you have come to a realization and are both taking steps to get your house in healthy!
    1693 days ago
    Thank you for sharing. Don't beat yourself up. How did we know back then? But now you know, now you guys are working on it, so she will have a grip on it for a long healthy life. My niece that is here often, is going to be in for some trouble, and try as I may, I am not the parent. In fact my step forward is set back by two with her mom. ugggh. But I am hoping that at least some little changes while she is here, is helpful. I enjoyed this blog very much. Thank you for sharing!
    1693 days ago
  • BOPPY_
    You're starting to get a handle on it, now. Keeps after that and your program (as YOU say, "keep pushing"!).


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    1694 days ago
    Dairy causes terrible facial cysts on me. I know because I'm grain-free (which helps my joints -- obviously being Celiac means no gluten but when I dabble in tapioca, quinoa (technically a seed), corn, my guts is NOT happy, too).

    My point is dairy is the devil to me -- and may be to her. Not all bodies are the same. While I know that you've tested dairy, I don't know if you elimination tested it. That's to say eating 100% things you know are non-reactive for a minimum of 4-6 weeks -- sometimes longer, then adding ONE item and seeing if it produces negative symptoms.

    I have done this and dairy is the culprit. I still consume dairy now and then but due to my face not clearing for months, I went strictly off again (over a month), then last week had dairy. It made me nauseated (which normally only happens about 20 minutes after eating and goes away within 2 hours) for 3 days! It also caused terrible gut pains for 4 days. I had to lie down and stay medicated (gut tranqs).

    Here's the thing: this is because I'd gone so long WITHOUT any, no cheating. It's the same for Celiacs when they go 100% clean for months, then get contaminated. It's a MUCH stronger reaction. That's why elimination testing requires that 4-6 week 'control' period.

    This is something my doctors supervised and taught me (you can read about it anywhere) and is the BEST way of identifying intolerances.

    I'm not talking about the hormones or the insulin or all the other things that dairy can do to bodies (especially acne) but in general the best way for testing and KNOWING.

    Most people just can't do the control period. I've done for over 2 years now (maybe 3) and I'm pretty used to switching to control mode. Like anything, it gets easier the more you do it. Anyway, I know that you're super health-orientated and that's wonderful. I also know from vast medical experience, elimination testing is truly worth it if there's any CHRONIC symptom.

    I wish your daughter great health.
    1695 days ago
    Thanks everyone for their encouragement and feedback. I know that it is not always helpful to tell kids what they should be eating. Getting an objective measure, like the A1C blood test that tells us what the blood sugar levels were over the previous few months, is very helpful because then there is objective information to use when talking about dietary choices. Ours went along the line of "this is what it will take to make sure you never progress to type 2 diabetes".
    1695 days ago
    you are doing the right thing helping your daughter
    1695 days ago
    I think your supportive attitude is the most important thing. Being on her side and trying to fight this together will certainly be much more effective than the"I've been there" attitude that we all accidentally have sometimes as parents.
    Your blog was really informative for me as I have a 10-year-old daughter who seems to have lots of sugar and carbs cravings. I've been trying to talk to her and I don't want to put pressure on her because it didn't work well with me when I was a child.
    At least we are more educated on nutritional subjects than our parents were and we can do what's best for our kids.
    Good luck both to you and your daughter.
    1695 days ago
  • -LINDA_S
    I wish I had more control of my grandson's diet. He seems to listen to what I say, but I get no support even though I'm convinced his "asthma" is likely from food sensitivity. Your daughter is lucky to have you to help her.
    1695 days ago
    Ugh. I have a sugar junkie. The older one likes sugar well enough, but he can do without it pretty easily. The younger one. Eats. Sugar. Packets. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. *gulp*
    1695 days ago
    At least you are "doing this" together. Being honest and up front with your daughter is all you can do. I have four kids and they all were allowed some of the "junk" when growing up. Three are slim built and one is muscular. They all will eat sweets, but only one that gets caught up in them. Nurture vs. nature will always be the question.

    We all do our best and now that you are more educated about foods, you are passing it on to your daughter. Keep at it!
    1695 days ago
    I am afraid I do not understand the tecnical part of your blog - the numbers, but I do understand diabetes - its not just caused from sugar though - its a hormone imbalance - my father was diabetic and so was his aunties and they succumed to that illness. It tends to skip a generation in my family, so my generation is fine, my children's is not. I was raised on a low carb diet as we did not have a lot of money for even bread never mind milk. A lot of times it was just poridge... I hope you find the answers you are looking for and I hope your daughter is not discouraged from being denied so many of life's so called pleasures. Its so good that you can talk to her about these things. I hope also that she understands enough to accept the peer pressure from school and school mates - If you want to know more about the 11 hormones we have and how they can be unbalanced, you can read it in Sam Graci's book The Power Of Foods... he's done several books on nutritian. It might help your daughter to understand the role bad carbs play in her life... cheers emoticon emoticon
    1695 days ago
  • 3016DEBRA
    emoticon emoticon I don't know why I never really developed that "Sweet Tooth" but I'm glad. Best wishes to you and your daughter emoticon
    1696 days ago
    Good for you and your daughter fighting this together!! It will get easier. emoticon
    1696 days ago
    We all do our best when raising kids. When things go right (as they have with your family and mine), we live and lear.
    No sugar for the grandkids!

    1696 days ago
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