Withholding Sugary Snacks Won't Lead to Eating Issues
Can we enter the ‘judgment-free’ zone please? We are all (or many of us anyways) moms here. And if you are not a mom, you certainly have felt the discerning eye of someone judging you. Well, I feel it when it comes to how I choose to feed my children sometimes at home and often when we are out in public.
At first I feel a touch defensive because I am the only and biggest advocate in their little lives. They are not old enough to expect to make good choices on their own, however, I do teach them healthy verses not-quite-as-healthy-choices when we are shopping, dining and eating at home. They are like any other child without sugar impulse control. So when a huge sugar laden cupcake is set in front of them, they are most likely going to give into temptation if provided the opportunity.
Sometimes they are left to their own devices as they devour a treat like that. Other times, I limit their little hands’ reach. It is in those publicly limiting situations where the eyes (and sometimes comments) of judgment are laid upon me leaving others believing they possess a general feel for my parenting style that, "could lead to eating issues down the road, you know." (hummmm)
In addition to feeling a bit defensive in my desires to teach them nutritional right from wrong, I also feel a little confused. Why would prioritizing my girls’ health be a bad thing? Why does it so often invoke an eye roll or a tell-tale grin that denotes me somehow denying my girls their God given right to poor nutrition, food dyes, chemicals and preservatives?
Okay, okay, maybe I am letting sarcasm or sauciness get the best of me or maybe, since I am fairly non-confrontational, I am using this blog post to confront. But, either way, I am stepping forward to set the record straight:
My girls get treats. Sure, at home we seize the opportunity to put whole grains, whole foods and healthy alternatives into our baked goods.
But they are not asked to deny what is offered at school (although I long for a day that schools step up and fuel our children properly), we eat ice cream (it is one of our FAVORITE occasional sweets), they partake in birthday parties and all of the plethora of other sweet-centered celebrations. But they do NOT have full access to chips, cupcakes, candy and other overly-processed, fake colored, additive-filled foods in our home each day. There are occasional ‘treats’ and sometimes, for their health’s sake and their ability to learn moderation, they are asked to limit their takings.
I have heard the comment many times, ‘Oh, let a kid be a kid’ but I think that pouring junk into their bodies has very little to do with the simplicity of childhood. The crazed look from too many cookies seems far less desirable than watching a child chase carefree or color creatively out of the lines.
I do not want my girls to worry about food to the extent that they develop a hypersensitivity to what they can and cannot eat. But I do want them to learn the value of making choices. Just like I want them to choose kind words, to share, to do their chores, to practice gratitude and giving, I want them to care for their little growing bodies. They know what it means and why I say, ‘no, you do not get your treat if you have not eaten your healthy dinner.’ They understand, ‘let’s see how many colors we can get into our bodies today’ when we are talking about fruits and vegetables.
And they do NOT have a clue about dieting; thin or fat in relation to placing a value on a person nor have they ever heard me talk about myself losing weight or eating for reasons to create a certain size body. What they eat is about their health, the way they feel and how they can help themselves have energy to learn and play.
I never judge or justify the choices of other moms or families. But, part of my occupational responsibility and personal value system is practicing what I preach. And so many of us, including myself, have grown up with the media, punishing us with messages about food that have now created this divide and we have chosen sides. But, really this is about our nation’s and our next generation’s HEALTH and quality of life. It’s not about creating a complex, instilling thin initiatives or driving our kids to diet. Perhaps it is us with the complex and dieting distraction. So, let’s not impose our issues on them.
Let’s simply teach them the value of their health and how to respect their most precious commodity. Without your body, in this world, you have nothing else.
Don’t we all just want what is best for our children? So, like I said, I don’t want my daughters to worry about food, any more than I want them to worry about personal hygiene, safe practices or to do their homework. Plus, do these pictures look like I am punishing them into healthful practices?
Advocating for My Clean Eating Kids,
- See more at my blog.
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By Rita Arens
By Rita Arens