It wasn't until I became pregnant at 33 that my sugar cravings really took hold.

I found myself constantly yearning for ice-cream.

I stocked our freezer with mint choc chip and devoured bowls at a time. The baby would kick up a frenzy in my stomach after I'd eaten - sugar even gets a reaction in the womb.

After my son Daniel arrived in 2008 I was, understandably, exhausted as I adjusted to breastfeeding a newborn. It's hard to find a moment to comb your hair, let alone eat properly.


Despite all my knowledge of food and nutrition, I would regularly grab a quick sugar fix or some carbs to keep me going, but the subsequent crashes interfered with my sleep, leaving me even more tired.

At a playdate when Daniel was around five months old, he reached for a slice of French bread and happily started gumming it. It wasn't necessarily the food I'd have chosen for his first few mouthfuls, but it showed me he was ready for weaning and I made the decision, then and there, that I didn't want to feed him refined carbs or processed sugars, and our journey began.

When I started most people were focusing on low-fat or low-GI diets, and sugar wasn't really under the microscope.

But I knew that something so addictive couldn't be great for our bodies - a hunch that has certainly proved to be true.

So, as some of my mum friends experimented with pouches and jars, I began to puree a rainbow of vegetables and fruit for Daniel's mealtimes.

There were times when I was definitely tempted by shop-bought food, but I was committed, and seeing my son develop a strong, adventurous approach to food was so rewarding.

But while he was thriving, I still felt tired and sluggish, and my mood was all over the place.

I needed to start taking care of my own nutrition, so I began to incorporate food I was preparing for Daniel into my own meals.

If I made him mashed carrot, for instance, I would use the leftovers to make myself spicy carrot soup. And I went cold turkey on the sugary foods I'd been relying on.

I immediately felt a difference. I was more alert, energetic and looked trimmer. My second son Jacob came along 18 months after Daniel and we refined our non-refined approach.

I developed more and more recipes and got on first-name terms with my local grocer.

As the boys got older, things obviously became trickier. I can't police what they eat at school, and I've had to learn to be more relaxed when they go to parties or restaurants.

I didn't want to be that parent who denied them a slice of birthday cake with their friends.

Nowadays, I'd say their sugar intake is around 80/20 - none at home, and occasionally when they're out and about.

Of course they love the occasional treat, but it isn't the battleground that some of my friends and family assume it might be.

The boys do eat fruit and of course I make them cake on their birthdays - it just happens to not include refined sugar.

I use fruit puree or mash up dates for my sweet dishes - you get the lovely, sugary hit, but packed with the fibre, vitamins and minerals that balance its effects on the body.

Nutritionally, at least, I think I have set my family on the right path. I hope my boys will be mindful eaters for life, even if they do succumb to fizzy drinks eventually.

My Sugar-Free Baby and Me by Dr Sarah Schenker is published by Bloomsbury.