It seems like candy is everywhere all the time anymore – it doesn’t seem to matter the time of year!
Our culture is completely saturated with candy and sweets. You simply cannot get away from it. Every checkout line has a big candy assortment to choose from – even office supply and healthfood stores which is a strong indication that impulse buying of sweet snacks is very popular with most people.
Most children eat candy every single day, and sadly, it is even used as a reward in many classrooms or by parents themselves for good behavior or academic performance even if a child is clearly struggling with weight issues.
I feel that one of the most difficult things to teach children is moderation when it comes to their sweet consumption. An occasional piece of candy is fine – eating it as a habit is most definitely not.
My policy in our house is simply not to buy candy. We don’t have any candy laying around in our house as a general rule, although I do let my children have a small organic lollipop on the ride home from school some days.
Sometimes, I get so exasperated with how much candy is everywhere that I want to just keep my children home and never let them go out. What particularly irks me is when another adult gives my children candy without asking me.
How rude is that?
Some days, don’t you just want to throw up your hands and lock your kids away or move to a closed community and live with only likeminded folks to get away from the sugar madness?
But, that doesn’t work either. That is a surefire recipe for rebellion and a child who has no control over their sugar impulses. The hard road is to continue to model moderation for them and let them have a bit of candy now and again and talk to them about how overindulging will lead to weight problems and worse in the years ahead.
I think of my own parents growing up. They had an unlocked cabinet of various alcoholic beverages for special occasions or for when company might come to dinner. Not one of their seven children ever broke their trust and as much as touched let alone drank some of that alcohol. We were also always allowed to have a sip or two of whatever Mom or Dad was drinking on New Year’s Eve or whatever special occasion brought out the bubbly.
Not one of us today has an alcohol problem which I think is pretty incredible. My parents successfully modeled moderation and for that, I am very grateful.
I think using alcohol as an example is important because sugar turns to alcohol in the body. So, a child that grows up eating too much sugar can end up with an the same sorts of health issues as an alcoholic even if he/she never drinks a drop!
As a Mom who has been struggling to teach my kids the dangers of candy without being an ogre about it for many years, I wanted to pass along the story of how each of my children reacted to their school Easter Egg Hunt last week.
Of course, any Easter Egg Hunt is going to be loaded with candy and it is a good opportunity to teach children moderation and how to enjoy an activity without going overboard.
My oldest son who is a teenager, ate absolutely no candy at all. He had no interest in having any and the pieces he got, he either gave away or tossed in the trash.
My middle child, who is three years younger, ate two pieces of candy and then dumped the rest in the trash.
My youngest child, three years younger than the middle child, ate a bunch of the candy at school and brought the rest of the candy home where she promptly dumped it in the trash after asking if she could keep 2 special pieces (which I said “yes” too).
It is important to note that my oldest child would have eaten a ton of candy when he was the age of my youngest child. But, over the years, he has learned moderation more and more and now doesn’t want any at all (most of the time – not always).
My middle child had a really hard time saying no to candy if it was offered at school or a party just a couple of years ago. Now, he is exercising great restraint and is demonstrating excellent moderation skills. I know my youngest will be the same. In another few years, she will be able to moderate herself just as well as her older siblings.
I guess the bottom line of this story is that it takes kids years to learn moderation in their candy habits especially when it is everywhere and most of their friends are pretty much eating it constantly so there is continuous temptation. Teaching kids moderation with candy is clearly harder today than it used to be!
Learning to say no to candy is a process and just because a younger child has trouble with moderation today doesn’t mean this will be the case during the teenage years.
Stay on it, Moms and Dads! Don’t give up as I’ve seen others do and just let your kids go wild with the sweets because it’s just too hard to stay on the moderation path 24/7. Your efforts will bear fruit at a later time even if you are not necessarily seeing it today.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
I try very hard to minimize sweets, with varying success. Fortunately my daughter learned early on that if she ate too much sugar in a day, she had an upset stomach at night. We stash candy from holidays in a cupboard and it is doled out a little at a time…and only after the “grow food” has been eaten. There’s usually a good bit to toss out several months later. After Halloween, I set aside most of the candy and we use it to decorate gingerbread houses for Christmas (we don’t eat the gingerbread houses– to do it properly, the gingerbread needs to be a bit overcooked and after a week or more sitting out, it’s pretty stale). I love using candy this way– it’s not “wasted” but it’s not eaten, either!
Sarah, I think you’ve hit the moderation point spot-on and the parallel with alcohol consumption is excellent. In my family, alcohol was handled very similarly, and with similarly good results in that we learned to enjoy occasional drinks but not to excess and weren’t tempted to rebel.
No kidding about candy being used inappropriately as a prize in schools, etc.! It amazes me how many people who have a responsibility to know better don’t seem to notice or care about overconsumption of candy (and of course juice, soda, etc.). Out of all the possible ways to incentivize…even if you aren’t willing to get creative or thoughtful, just take the quarters that you would have spent on candy and give out those instead.
A little girl I know who has type I diabetes used to go to a camp for juvenile diabetics that – no kidding – gave out candy bars as a prize for exercising enough to lower insulin needs! I don’t know whether these were regular sugary candy bars or artificially sweetened “diabetic-friendly” ones, but either one is inexcusable. I only found this out because she has always been very athletic, so she couldn’t feasibly increase her exercise, so being a little kid systematically tempted by adults in charge of her welfare to want this candy badly, she gave herself a few extra clicks of insulin. She nearly died as a result and had to be rushed via ambulance to a hospital.
Oh, and instead of changing the perverse policy of bribing diabetic kids with candy, the camp just barred her from coming back again.
Birthday parties are driving me crazy, my oldest is 6, he knows about the parties (yes, I was going to say he couldn’t go if he never mentioned it…). Cake and loot bags. Four parties in the last 3 weeks, no wonder we are all sick with the flu… I keep no visible candy in the house (I admit I do sneak it when they are in bed). Their treats now are one teeny tiny xylitol candy, but they are getting a few eggs for Easter, the mini dark chocolate Lindt kind, at least I tried to keep them small 🙂
Well I feel sorry for my grandson when ever there’s a party he’s the only one staring at others kid’s eating candy on Easter to tell the true I’m 64. Years now never Hurd of somebody dying for eating candy I think it’s OK to eat a candy once in a while but none at all in my opinion I think it’s more punishment than good
My son never had almost no sugar until he was about 5 years old, except from my parents who think giving children sugar and processed foods is okay. Even back then, I wasn’t as aware of the dangers of processed foods and grains, and I still was very careful not to give him foods with sugar in them. It wasn’t until he was over 5 that I started realizing the importance of traditional foods, but he was born with gut issues because I had them before he was born. Although my husband largely agrees with much of my philosophy on nutrition, I was never able to get him on board for doing GAPS for our son (he thinks it’s too extreme), so he’s still got gut issues. But, he’s still much better off than many children I know who eat garbage, processed foods, and a lot of refined sugar around him. He eats a lot of grass-fed meats, poultry, and eggs, raw milk, butter, cream, grass-fed cheese, lard, tallow, fish eggs, seafood, and some organ meats.
Most of his friends are incredibly picky eaters, and I have a really hard time getting them to eat when they come over. He’s got one friend who is a good eater, but the rest of them – and there’s 5 of them I can think of – will really only eat bread and carbs, and of course, sugar. One of his friends, a girl who is 11, only likes a few foods: fruit, cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and macaroni and cheese, oh…and bread. She won’t eat any meat and I don’t think she likes eggs. She won’t even eat tomato sauce. And what’s odd is that she’s one of the brightest children in my son’s class, but she does have an endless array of health issues.
Because I’m a sugar addict (read “alcoholic”), I’ve tried to teach my kids moderation. Due to all the places it’s offered, we have a rule of 2 per week (usually the size of dum-dums). That way, they can say “yes” at church and 1 other day, but only if they actually like what they’re offered. Lately, they’ve only been having about 1 per week. I didn’t want to teach them never to have it so they overindulge as adults; nor did I want to let them have what they wanted freely (my oldest doesn’t have a sweet tooth; while my 2 youngers are like me). I love that they learn to only accept what they like and not any candy they’re offered. They are currently 9, 10 & 11 and doing quite well with the moderation. We’ve been doing this for about 3 years now.
My son is doing holiday club this week. I have to include a pack lunch. I decided on Monday to “treat” him to an organic fruit yoghurt pot instead of our usual home made natural yoghurt and apple sauce/ fresh fruit. Also sent him with a bag of crisps and a small snack size chocolate bar (65cals per bar – it was tiny!), as well as his usual lunch.
On Monday night he was downstairs at 10pm with a sore tummy…… lesson well learnt!
Since then i have given him only our usual “real” food and he has been fine. Today he was offered some boiled sweets and he said “No thank you, I don’t want to upset my tummy again today” He has autism. I was so proud of him!