This miracle lesson can be really hard for parents to accept.
So steel yourself. Maybe get yourself a cup of coffee, or maybe even a strong drink. At the very minimum, perhaps take some deep yoga breaths! You ready? Cause it really is a miracle. And your kids need it before Halloween and the rest of the Eating Season begins.
Before you blow me off because you think this is the silliest, most insane post you’ve ever read, hear me out.
Putting kids in control of their candy-cake-cookies-ice cream consumption does not mean they can have as much of this stuff as they want.
All kids can do this by the time they’re eating candy. You just have to present the information, choices and control in a way they can understand. Don’t believe me? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it.
The miracle lesson is built on two principles.
- Proportion is the foundation of a healthy diet. All kids, no matter their age, can understand the essence of proportion: We eat more of these foods and less of those foods.
- It doesn’t matter when you eat your crap.
Proportion is the foundation of a healthy diet.
In my last post, I complained that Harvard’s new Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate doesn’t have a cookie. My rant was based on the idea that without talking about sweets and treats we can’t teach kids how to incorporate them into their diets in a healthy way.
Enter Belgium and their new food pyramid.
This triangle is a visual representation of proportion. See the sweets and treats down in the little red circle? While I don’t think the frequency-of-consumption direction, As little as possible, means anything—I might find it impossible not to have ice cream every single day.—at least this pyramid gives some guidance. (HT to Marion Nestle.)
- Start by discussing what constitutes sweets/treats. In my home, in addition to the usual stuff, I included sweetened yogurts, juice, and other foods that produce a sugar habit.
- Discuss what constitutes a portion size that fits your child’s size. Use this as a guideline for implementing proper proportion.
- On holidays, such as Halloween, think about my rule: Don’t eat so much you get sick. Sounds lame-o, but it’s really the best lesson anyone can learn when there’s treat overload.
It doesn’t matter when you eat your crap.
I know most parents won’t agree with me on this, but making kids eat their sweets at certain times of the day (in the afternoon or evening rather than in the morning) or after other foods have been consumed (like after the broccoli) is a form of control that backfires in the long run. It seems like a good idea to eat a cookie after the healthy stuff, but why?
Really, why do you have to eat veggies before eating cookies? Why? The healthy food doesn’t inoculate you against the sugar. The only thing that eating veggies before sweets does is prove, unequivocally prove, that veggies suck. They’re the “medicine.”
If you teach your kids about proportion, then it doesn’t matter if they have their sweet in the morning. (And if you think about it, pancakes and syrup have more sugar than most cookies. So why teach kids that pancakes are OK —and that they’re better for you than cookies?)
Teaching the No-Timing Treat
- Start by letting your children know they are in control of when they eat their treats. There’s a caveat…
- Treats have to fit into the diet in the proper proportion. What that means is…
- If you have your treat in the morning, that’s it for the day. And, if you have a lot of treats, like on Halloween, you have to have some days without any treats.
- Finish by letting your kids know they’ll make mistakes. There will be days when they have their treat in the morning and then be invited to an ice cream outing in the afternoon. Sometimes you’ll break the “rules,” because it’s all a learning process.
So that’s the miracle lesson: Kids, you’re in control. You just have to include sweets and treats in your diet in a way that is healthy.
Don’t underestimate kids. Help them catch the habitude!
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~