You can't deny it. We live in a candy culture. Just think of all the places a well meaning adult hands your kid candy:
- Doctor's office (yes, they do! We even had one pediatrician do a “patient appreciation picnic” where she served hot dogs, pop corn, cotton candy and ice cream! Now if that doesn't send a mixed signal about health and nutrition, I don't know what does!)
- Dentist office
- Grocery stores
- Relatives homes
These are just a few of the places my children have received candy!
Here are a few tips on how to be more aware of the amount of sugar and candy that your child receives:
- Research what candy does to your immune system, your teeth, and your overall health
- Talk openly to your kids about candy
- Save all the candy your child receives in a jar for one month to get a visual of just how much they are given
- Use a bag of sugar to illustrate just how much candy is in a soda, a candy bar, a serving of ice cream, etc.
- Show your children healthier alternatives
- Learn how to read ingredient labels and teach your children, better yet, learn together!
- Let them decide what's good and what's bad
- Go to cooking classes together to learn healthier ways to prepare foods
- Offer to exchange the “treats” they receive for a non food item (some I use are Pokemon cards, money, activities, and healthy treats)
- Express your opinion about junk foods and candy without condemnation
- Never guilt your children into making healthy choices, educate them instead, then praise them when they make the right choices
- Be your child's biggest fan, coach, and motivator
- Set a good example by making healthy choices yourself
- Fill your child up with healthy foods so they crave junk foods less
- Watch documentaries about food and health with your kids (some good ones are listed HERE but please use parental discretion)
Do my kids eat candy sometimes? Sure. Do they eat candy every day? Once a week? No. Because I have researched and see the ill effects of eating sugar on a regular basis. I try to reserve candy for a really (truly, really) special treat. I have talked to my children about sugar and what it does to their body. It is often a topic of conversation at dinner. Are we perfect? Absolutely not. Especially me! Sometimes my children tell me I live in a food bubble, that I have no idea how much junk their friends actually eat. I can tend to lean on the food snobbery side, and I'm sorry about the times when I have accidentally offended someone who is trying to love on my kids with candy in hand. However, I feel like my mistake stems from a passion to raise a truly healthy generation of children, starting with my own! Believe me, I have received my fair share of criticism and “ribbing” about the fact that I deprive my children of this aspect of American Culture.
I have tried to teach my children how to politely refuse candy that they know is bad for them. This is especially hard if it is offered to them at school by their teachers, peers, or from their friends parents. Even worse, when they would rather not eat something given to them by a family member. I tell them to be kind, yet honest. I hope that they are able to achieve a balance. The stories they tell me at times indicate to me that they are learning on their own how to share these concerns with their friends at school without being ostracized. I appreciate their willingness to go along with my preferences and I try to praise them often! To be honest, I am very proud of the way they have been on board with being healthy. My husband regularly brags to me how impressed he is when he allows them to pick a treat at the supermarket and they begin by flipping it over and reading the label. I didn't set out to make them this way, it happened by osmosis. My love of learning about nutrition just rubbed off on them.
Have you experienced the downside of living in a candy culture? If your child comes home with a bag full of candy, what do you do? Let's bring attention to this sad truth by hashtagging photos of the candy our kid receives with #candyculture to bring awareness to this problem. Take a minute to connect with me on social media and share your pics on Instagram, don't forget to tag @thatorganicmom in your candy photos.