Parent’s Guide to Sweets and Treats
02 November 2016
As parents, you’ve probably read every source on how to limit your children’s’ sugar consumption during this holiday season. Every year, the same struggle. The battle between being overly restrictive versus completely laissez faire seems like an inevitable lose-lose. On the one hand, you hear the fearful voices of the naysayers warning you against taking a strict approach that may potentially lead to a disordered eating relationship for your children in their adolescence. Yet, on the other side, how can you bare to watch your children scarf down countless empty calorie treats loaded with high fructose corn syrup, yellow-5, 6, and 7, and many other unmentionable spooky ingredients? It sure seems more like a trick than a treat from the perspective of a well-educated parent aware of all the processing that makes this candy so addictive.
Halloween has come and gone. Instead of beating yourselves up as parents, let’s take a different approach and focus on building ‘healthy’ relationships for your children surrounding their food for the 362 days outside of Halloween weekend (a few extra days to cushion all the different parties you attended with your children.) Regardless of how you handled the candy debacle this year- strict or lenient- let’s all come together and learn how to choose moderation and balance as a motto for teaching our youth about their food choices.
Don’t misinterpret what I am recommending as an easy fix-all solution to every food fight between you and your child in the future. I am well aware that training children to be open-minded to eating an overly nutritious, moderately sweet diet is a process – not always easy or straightforward – with many impending hurdles along the way.
Here are 3 suggestions for your sugar conundrum this week and always. As parents, you know your children best. Take these suggestions to heart, and use them as you see fit in your own home.
- 1. Let there be cake! By this I mean that your children should be able to enjoy some candy on Halloween, a piece of cake at a birthday party, and ice cream on a hot summer day. Just like we like to indulge as adults, children want to share in the fun too. Food has always been associated with special traditions and rituals. My view is to keep those moments sacred and don’t tamper with the status quo.
- 2. Moderation and balance. A two-for-one suggestion. I apologize for using a dietitian cliché, but it is definitely the recommendation that most strongly represents my philosophy on healthy living – from toddlerhood all the way to senioritis. Allow your child to try a bite of each of the different candies over the course of the Halloween week festivities, instead of all in one sitting. Try eating a breakfast full of vegetables and healthy protein before going to a Sunday afternoon birthday. Give your child one piece of cake at a party, and water instead of soda. Moderation and balance can be achieved in many ways so I advise you to use the dynamics in your own home as a basis for tailoring which elements will work for your family.
- 3. Open Communication/Education. These pointers are a key piece to the candy puzzle and they go hand-in-hand. Your children are curious creatures. They act like sponges that soak up all of their surroundings. Sit down with your children and discuss why you have different rules than other families. Don’t just give them rules regarding their candy and sweet intake, but rather explain to them the reason why it is important to balance their sweets with their greens. Enlighten them and make them feel like they are accessing secrets that only adults know. Everyone likes to have top notch information.
As to not overwhelm you, I chose these three basic principles as a starting place. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to developing healthy appetites for our little ones. Expect nothing less than an end goal of being the parent at school who can brag about having children that are “good eaters”. We will get you there…..
If you have any specific food and nutrition related parenting questions, come visit me at Tribeca MedSpa or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love working with children and would be happy to help you make your kitchen a stress-free place!