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Three Simple Ways to Manage Sweets at Home

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What do birthday parties, Halloween and school functions have in common? The answer is food, particularly sweet treats. These events often come with a side of cake, cookies, candy and soda, which are all sugar-rich foods that many families try hard to limit at home.

Try as you might, children eventually find a way to consume them; we’re all born predisposed to desire sweets (De Cosmi, Scaglioni & Agnostoni, 2017).

Restricting foods and labeling them as good or bad can be problematic, but how can you ensure that your children are eating nutritious meals and not gorging themselves on sweets?

1. Change the labels.

There is no such thing as good food or bad food. Repeat this mantra.

Study after study has found that when foods are labeled this way, we respond with detrimental behaviors. Stigmatizing food can lead to eating disorders, shame, secret eating, depression and more (Rollin, 2015).

Jill Castle, a pediatric nutritionist, recommends using the terms “nourishing” and “fun” instead of good and bad or healthy and unhealthy.

Examples of nourishing foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products. Examples of fun foods include fried foods, chips, soda, cake and sugary beverages.

2. Implement the 90-10 rule.

Castle also recommends following the 90-10 rule, meaning 90% of your children’s meals will be nourishing foods and 10% will be fun foods (Castle, 2018). Let your children be part of this process. Explain what fun foods are, then help them identify some.

Only give your children two servings of fun foods a day.

3. Let your children choose.

Allow your children to choose the fun foods they’d like to eat whenever possible. This freedom is hugely important as children seek to exert their independence. Additionally, Castle says that this choice will help teach children how to self-regulate and use their decision-making skills.

Castle says, “The goal is to help your child pause and think through what she will eat during the day, and give her an opportunity to think ahead and practice decision-making skills with eating” (Castle, 2018).

What methods do you use to manage fun foods at home?

References

Castle, J. (2018). The 90-10 rule for managing treats. Retrieved from https://jillcastle.com/childhood-nutrition/fun-food-90-10-rule/

De Cosmi, V., Scaglioni, S. & Agnostoni, C. (2017). Early taste experiences and later food choices. Nutrients, 9(2):107.

Rollin, J. (2015). How the idea of “healthy eating” can be harmful. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-musings/201512/how-the-idea-healthy-eating-can-be-harmful?destination=node/1082948