It seems like especially during the holidays, sugar is EVERYWHERE! I’m not here to debate the amount of sugar your children should or should not have. That is something you have to decide for YOUR family. I think we would all agree, though, that too much sugar is not good for any of us. Some kids show obvious effects of sugar and some do not. You know your kids and have a feel for their limits.
I’d like to share with you a few tools that I have learned over my 23 years of mothering, to help keep down the amount of sugar consumed by our family. As a result, I can honestly say that, slowly, our family’s daily sugar intake has decreased over the years.
Being aware of what your kids are eating is a great place to start. Plan meals that are as satisfying and filling as possible. Limit the number of treats per day. Also, if it isn’t in the house, it can’t be eaten, so limit what is brought in. Our kids LOVE, LOVE seedless tangerines, so I make sure we have LOTS of those in our frig. Can you think of healthy snacks your kids love? Have extra on hand so when they ask for more sugar, it doesn’t sound like a bummer, but more like, “You can’t have that, but you CAN have this …”
We do a lot of baking during the holidays. Most of what we make is not what we would normally eat, but our kids have warm memories associated with them. And who am I to bulldoze their memories? We head to the dollar store, buy some baskets and ribbon/raffia, jingle bells, etc to decorate and some tissue to line them. We bake and “taste” to our hearts content, wrap up our goodies, put them in the baskets and promptly give them to others: neighbors, friends, family. This accomplishes a few things: It keeps the temptation down by keeping the sweets out of the house, my kids’ memories aren’t squashed and they learn to serve and share what they have with others! It’s a win/win.
Can I just say that there will be many who will not be particularly helpful in our plight? Grandparents, bank tellers, and others often want to give our kids candy canes, etc. All in good Christmas cheer, of course. Easy fix. Just thank them (and have your children thank them) for their thoughtfulness and then promptly (when out of visual range) place the goodie in your purse or bag to add to your collection. Use these treats for rewards or for days when your child hasn’t reached his/her “limit” and would really enjoy it! By doing this you are encouraging both self control and grace toward others’ intentions.
It can be hard to get our kids on board with the plan, but I have explained it to ours this way: “There are soldiers in your body that fight off the germs that try to make you sick. When you eat sugar, it’s like taking the weapons from the soldiers and they can’t fight off the bad guys.”(This is a particularly effective visual for boys!) Sugar does suppress our immune systems for several hours after we eat it. Who wants to take that risk too often during the height of cold and flu season? Count me out!
Even after a valid explanation, your kids may not be keen on this idea of setting limits with sugar. That’s ok. It could just be one of those many unpopular decisions we have to make as parents. After all, we ARE the mom.