My daughter had donuts 4 days in a row last week. I am a little bit horrified by this – in my previous “life” when I was 100 pounds overweight and ate things like donuts often this would have been no big deal. Now I know the health effects of eating things like donuts so I choose not to eat them and never get them for my family. Why? Because they get plenty of this “junk” outside of the home! She got one at Grandma and Grandpa’s – my parents said my kids are on “lockdown” hahaha and always have treats around (I’m working on them), then 3 days in a row at school for birthday parties.
I propose you make your home a “no junk zone“. This is what I do, I admit to slipping up from time to time but I am continually improving. Most of us get plenty of treats outside of the home – birthday parties, meetings and a myriad of other opportunities to indulge a little. I’m all for it – if you’re at a birthday party and can handle cake – go for it! Life is meant to be enjoyed, food is a great way to celebrate and it is great to celebrate along with everyone else. Adding up how many opportunities you have to indulge you will probably realize you may be indulging more than a few times per week if you’re not careful.
Another area I propose you “klean up” is dessert. I grew up in a family that ate ice cream almost every night of the week. If it wasn’t ice cream it was a sweet dessert of another sort or a bag of microwave popcorn. My dad grew up on a farm – they were strong, fit people who worked hard and could enjoy ice cream and not gain weight. Unfortunately most of his side of the family has weight related health issues now. My mom was extremely thin and always was – she wasn’t much of an ice cream eater, but happily dished us up. I continually gained weight all through my adolescence and then into my adulthood. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with indulging in dessert every night. I thought I was a good mom baking cakes for the family, making cookies with my daughter, etc.
We don’t need dessert every night. You may need a snack, yes – I encourage that if you are active and have eaten a healthy diet all day. Fruit, or cheese or nuts make a great snack if you ate dinner early and will not be going to bed for awhile. Sometimes I like a tiny little nibble and will grab a few dark chocolate nibs and 4 almonds – just a little bite. Once a week I try to make a healthy dessert – a nice dish that seems indulgent but is secretly healthy. I found that my daughter, having spent the first few years of her life with my unhealthy examples, felt that she needed dessert every night. I’m working hard to get her off of this habit. My kids are tall and healthy and they do require a bit more food sometimes. Now I will give them some oats or a bowl of gluten free cereal or a homemade granola bar for dessert. If she’s just wanting to munch – she is a pre-teen and I’m noticing that happening – I encourage her to grab some strawberries or she loves to eat frozen peaches. Mainly I’m trying to teach them to listen to their bodies. Sometimes we are a bit hungrier – working out a bit more, our bodies trying to fight off a cold, etc. Differentiating this feeling – and going ahead and having a small, healthy snack to feed our bodies – from thirst, boredom, being tired or stress – in which case I encourage them to ask themselves “Is my stomach truly feeling empty”? This is important for us to do, as well as teach our children.
We owe it to our kids to model healthy behaviors that will set them up for a long, healthy life that is hopefully free of disease related to poor diet. We owe it to ourselves as well!
Some kids have sugar cereal for breakfast, cookies at lunch, afternoon snack processed crackers and “fruit” snacks then a sugar dessert later in the evening. That is an ENORMOUS amount of sugar over a day. This is what is the “norm” for many children though. Many of us use the excuse “But they’re kids! They will burn it off”. It isn’t a matter of weight management entirely – some people have extremely high metabolism’s or are part of the lucky gene pool that can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. That doesn’t mean the health effects of cumulative junk food eating won’t affect their bodies. It is a matter of health. Eating this way every day does add up over a lifetime – we can control it to some degree. Why would we not want to keep our kids as healthy as possible?
They don’t need it, nor do we. There are plenty of opportunities to indulge a few times a month – Grandma and Grandpa’s will always be there with their treats. We can control the day to day choices we make and pass on to our kids.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
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