Parenting a sugar sensitive child

It is no secret that I am forever struggling with my daughter Zoe, she is 4 years old now and it has been 4 years of continuous struggling. Since she was a tiny baby, she was hyperactive, she did not want to sleep at all and constantly wanted to be kept busy and entertained.

She was my first child, so I was doing the best I could with what I knew, I did not know that everything on earth contained sugar and preservatives and colorants that were effecting my poor child so much that she could not even deal with her own feelings and emotions, It caused endless tantrums, crying, acting out and sickness. I did not read the ingredient label on formula, fruit juice , baby food, teething biscuits, bread, chips, box juice…. Did not know that all these very common things had soooo many terrible additives and sugars in them and these were the things that were driving my poor baby over the edge.

It is like watching a car about to crash and you can do nothing about it. I got so much advice from so many people, people would say things like. “ag man, when we were growing up we ate all of that stuff and we are fine”. .. “Its just tantrums, its normal for children to cry and have tantrums”

But remember, years ago, they did not have as many versions of sugar and chemicals as we have today. ..

sugar sensitivity in children

It took me a while to click, for it to spark that light bulb moment in my mind. It is like doing a science experiment.

Step 1: Keep Zoe off of sugar and processed anything for a few days and watch her thrive! Watch her learn and play calmly, listen and love, give hugs and say mommy I love you. Sit still and read, have conversations with properly pronounced words that make sense, without moaning and crying.

Step 2: Give Zoe sugar.. This weekend Sunday we went bowling, it was so fun! I gave in and bought the kids a slush puppy to drink! WORST MISTAKE EVER! I feel like the worlds most terrible parent and I feel like crying just writing this. I watched a switch flip in my child’s mind as the sugar and colorants took over, as the chemical science experiment transformed my well behaved child who was having fun, into a crying emotional wreck! She stopped communicating properly and started crying and moaning while saying mommy over and over again. Her face went red, her eyes were blood shot and there was just no reasoning with her at all. She could not handle her own emotions and it is a very painful sight to see. We carried her to the car, kicking and screaming.

We eventually got home and I had to force her to go have a little quite time on her bed, she fell asleep quickly and you could see on her face it looked as tho she had just had the most traumatic experience of her life.

This is why we are making the move away from sugar, colorants and additives. Not because it is some hippy crazy or the new in thing. But because I have sat, watched and learnt from my child. I have physically seen the effects with my own eyes. Like on Fridays when it is tuck shop day at school and she comes home with a packet on Nik Naks and I just want to die inside. What happens to Zoe when she eats Nik Naks? She freaks out! It takes about 20min to kick in and its just crying and emotions, she can’t communicate her needs to me.

Now I am teaching her.. SUGAR, GLUTEN and DIARY free! She is starting to understand.. she says, “mommy are you going to buy something that is not so sugary”.

We read our Mila’s Meals book and buy food and ingredients off of Faithful-To-Nature, food that we can cook with! We use Honey and natural Maple syrup as a sweet treat and we snack on nuts and drink tea with no sugar or milk.

I walk through Pick n pay and when I used to be able to fill an entire trolley with food shopping, now I can only find a few items in the shop that we can actually eat because EVERYTHING has added sugar, colorants, preservatives. It is up to me to teach my children and show them better choices, it is more effort and more work but this hard work will pay off.

the mood swings and the emotions could easily be mistaken for just the usual toddler tantrums or some kind of mood disorder, But I know in my heart that it is because of the food we put in to out kids. We started new with out new healthy adventure, we bought the Mila’s Meals book and we read it, we learnt and we are on the path the healing.

South African Parenting Blog


It really is not easy, It is a hard life parenting a sugar sensitive child. watching her every move, calculating what we will eat. Worrying about what she eats at school and then there is the hell of birthday parties, outings and play dates. But we take it one day at a time and embrace the slip ups.

Change the way you eat, one food item at a time. Stop shopping the norm and start vising your local health shop or take a browse through the Faithful-to-nature site. Invest in a good book like the Mila’s Meals one and learn, watch your children thrive!


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  1. chastin dreyer says:

    sugar and additives make such a difference we have 2 special needs kiddos and we are very strict during the week and for school lunches weekends at home I relax but if we go out I am very wary, we also have never allowed sodas my kids have tried it at parties and the results have been disastrous so nope I grew up without it and it never did me any harm

  2. stephanie videira says:

    yep to much rubbish in foods these days

  3. Natalie says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! It sounded like u were speaking right from my heart! I am on this same journey after realizing my 4 year old was also sugar/gluten/ everything unnatural sensitive. She would have emotional/aggressive outbursts! Especially with red jelly. She was almost misdiagnosed with ASD because of these emotional outbursts, but my gut said otherwise and as soon as I changed her diet, she changed into to little girl I knew she could be. I have been feeling so alone in this journey but this article made me feel so much better. Thank you

  4. Vanessa Christiane says:

    Thanks Melissa – a stunning review that gives one a real insight to family lives – ones that are all too often are kept behind closed doors! Great on you for sharing your truth about what’s going on ‘behind the scenes! You’re an awesome lady, beautiful too without a doubt and to lay it out there for the public #mommy blogger to the T!

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