I have just about recovered from the shock that my 8-year-old daughter Molly, has candida (a yeast infection) in her gut and mouth necessitating a spell of no yeast or sugar for 6-8 weeks. But joy oh joy, we have to complete a 4-week preparation protocol first which involves taking lots of probiotics to help with the efficacy of the candida diet - so a short reprieve from no sugar.


The probiotics arrive from Germany. There are 2 powders and tablets for her to take every day. Things get off to a great start (not) when we argue over her breakfast on the first day of the protocol. Long story short: I make fried egg “wrong”, she refuses to eat it, she tries to make another one, I say no, she pours the probiotic drink down sink, I take the pan off the cooker, she throws a handful of probiotic tablets in the bin then cuts her hair off. Day 1 - done. 


Day 2 - which is actually now only day 1 after the horror that was yesterday - and Molly wakes up more Jekyll than Hyde. She takes her powders quite happily every morning but she’s not so happy about the tablets which I sometimes break apart and disguise in her smoothies. The 4-week protocol draws to a close but I keep putting off ringing Margot, the nutritional therapist, hoping maybe that we have done enough to get us through? The ‘sticking your head in the sand’ approach that funnily enough, rarely works. Margot is having none of it and orders more medicine (a mouthwash) and instructs me that once that arrives, we’re off!


I sit down and discuss the implications of the sugar-free diet with Molly and her brothers - opting for the carrot rather than the stick approach i.e.. bribery. I tell them we all are going to be practically sugar free (there’s a bit of leeway for the boys) for the duration so they agree on the enticement of €20 each to spend in Dundrum shopping centre (terms and conditions express this cannot be spent on sweets in reply to requests for same) and dinner out. 


Happy campers all around. I have rid the pantry of sugar and thrown it all out (bar the adult emergency supplies which are hidden in the laundry). And we start to slowly ease into a sugar-free household (the laundry is a special exclusion zone). So here is what we actually did:


- Bread with yeast is a no-no so luckily, we discover she loves soda bread to the point that no-one else in the house is allowed to eat “her” bread. Amazing how they find new things to fight about all the time. (Beware the soda bread though - read the label (as with everything) as I did find so-called soda bread with yeast in it).

  • Sweet treats obviously are out. Normally, when baking, I would use natural sweeteners like banana or honey but these are all on the no list. That doesn’t leave a lot of options. Fortunately, she loves popcorn so that’s in the lunchbox on a Friday. I did buy some sugar-free cookies which are ok in a bind but not something I would give her all the time. 
  • Fruit is a bit of a stumbling block. Many fruits are on the naughty list because of their high sugar (albeit natural) content. So the aforementioned bananas are out, as are oranges, grapes, pears, mangos, dried fruit etc. In are apples, melons, berries and lemons (she didn’t eat a lot of these!). We stewed a lot of apples - great to top porridge, with natural, probiotic yoghurt or to sweeten buns. Eating apples are best for this.
  • All things white are out in terms of rice, pasta, bread etc. As we were already only eating brown rice, pasta etc. this was not an issue. Breakfast cereals are out except for porridge (not always a crowd pleaser in my gaff) and Weetabix and ….that’s it pretty much. 
  • Snacks were tricky - no breadsticks, crackers, limited fruit, no fruit yoghurts, limited cereals - see where i’m going with this? One thing that filled the gap was smoothies which I loaded with goodies like coconut oil, avocado, seeds, frozen berries, apple, probiotic yoghurt and the occasional slice of cucumber. These are great as an after-school snack, as part of breakfast or even in her school lunch.


So it was all going along swimmingly - eggs or porridge for breakfast, a sandwich on soda bread for lunch and a veg-packed dinner (which she mostly picks out or tries to hide on someone else’s plate). And then along came …………Hallowe’en! 


But that's another story for another day. Follow our journey on my blog! 

As a mum of 3, I know how difficult, challenging and difficult (worth saying twice!) it can be, feeding them a healthy, balanced diet. A couple of years ago, I left my full-time job and retrained as a Health and Nutrition Coach - much to the disgust of my children. My goal is to teach children about the joys of healthy eating (so yes, I know how difficult it is!) through my business, The Cool Food School (www.thecoolfoodschool.ie). I also like to run, drink coffee and ignore the housework.

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