Friday, February 22, 2013

Lucky Seven Tips for Kids and Sweets

"First, what are your "rules" regarding treats with your children? I feel like there is a never ending supply in this house due to holidays, birthdays, and my own sweet tooth. But I feel out of control. And I feel like I am doing a disservice to my children (even though they exercise regularly, eat pretty well, and are by no means even close to overweight. Quite the opposite, actually!) But I feel like they eat too much crap whether it be at school, parties, home, whatever. There's always something. We recently put in place a no treat rule Mon-Thurs, unless it's a special occasion (like valentines day...even though I'm sure they had enough crap at school!). Of course they hate it, but I'm still wondering if that's enough. So I'm wondering what other people's "rules" are if they exist."

RULES in OUR HOUSE about SWEETS (only listed here for the first time, otherwise unwritten :)

#1 SAVOR: teach your kids (I am still teaching myself!) to slowly, taste, and enjoy each bite of a sweet.  If you've had enough, stop!  You don't know how many suckers I have thrown away after a day or so because they only had some licks, and then wanted to "save it for later" (they hardly every ask for it after that).  The above photo is of a happy face after taking probably 15 minutes to eat a piece (not a bar!) of dark chocolate.  This girl is the savoring queen!

#2 NOT (necessarily) DAILY: there is no entitlement to a dessert after each meal, or each day.  As the reader above mentions, there are often special reasons to have a treat, so we don't need to have one each day.

#3 Be PICKY: take time to pick something you'll enjoy, and if it doesn't look really good, or if it doesn't taste really good, then skip it! You should see how long it takes my kids (the older two) to choose a treat from the CANDY BASKET -- normally they might go through it for up to 30 minutes before making their final selection!  They sort and consider and discuss; it's really something.

#4 Small PORTIONS: just a little bit can be amazing, but after a few bites, we don't even taste any given food as much as at the start of the meal. OTHERWISE, I am not concerned with portion sizes of the foods we eat, since making healthy choices does that for us. Fiber especially, fills us up, so we can't eat too much!

SPLIT: this great tool is an add-on to #4. You can split something among all the kids, OR half for now, half for later, OR pair a child and an adult to share, OR the whole family can share! Really, if you recall in #4, no one is really going to be wanting any more, and on the bright side, probably nobody will have a tummy ache!

#5 TAKE it HOME: normally, it's best to keep things out of the house, so they don't tempt us. However, when our kids are bombarded with sweets outside the home (like at parties), they feel better, satisfied, just getting to pack it up, and bring it home. It can always be disposed of later.  We have a "candy basket"; it's where we keep all the sweets we accumulate.

#6 Eat HEALTHY stuff FIRST: I avoid saying "no" to pleading for a sweet.  We say they can have a piece AFTER a healthy snack, lunch, dinner, etc. OFTEN, after they finish the said meal, they FORGET about the sweet! Seriously! When kids (and adults) are hungry or bored, a common reaction is to go for a sweet.

#7 Don't remind about sweets - they don't need any of it!  Little ones ESPECIALLY (younger than 3 or 4 years old) should have VERY few treats. Their total calorie requirements are so low that if you give them a sweet, it's difficult to get all the nutrients they need without giving them more calories than their little bodies need.

NOTE: Occasionally, my kids will eat a sweet first thing in the morning ...unusual, yes!  Better (for their teeth and tummies) than eating something sweet right before bed. Imagine a sweet was promised to a child but she forgot about it.  Then she remembered right before bed, SO first thing tomorrow - she can have it! ...goes along with the forgetting in #6 and the not reminding in #7.

Don't worry if CHILDREN WITH OLDER SIBLINGS want (and begin to eat) sweets at a younger age than the other kids in the family did.  Like all the other wonderful things they may do sooner because of example, they'll ask for sweets earlier because they see their siblings wanting, enjoying, and asking for sweets!  Hopefully, they'll also pick up their savoring skills!

BONUS TIP: To help with TEETH brushing, say: "Children who brush their teeth, eat sweets." This is referring to 'in general', as opposed to, of course, cause and effect (brush and then eat sweets).

COMMENTS: Are you an oldest, youngest, middle, or only child?  I am the oldest, and it is very interesting to see striking character similarities (not always the best ones!) between me and my oldest daughter sometimes. Amazing how something like birth order can be so universal!

1 comment:


so much to say about kids and sugar AHHH! U just inspired me to post!... I LOVE your tip about the practice of savoring! GENIUS I'm copying and pasting your tricks into my GOOD MOMMA VAULT :) LOVE IT!


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