If you have guilty pleasure, please raise your hand.
Now ask yourself, Where did that guilty pleasure come from? How’d you get it? I mean, you didn’t always have a guilty pleasure. Back in the beginning, you just had pleasure. So, where’d the guilt come from? If you don’t want to pass the same food guilt onto your kids, it’s worth taking the time to pick this thing apart. The Eating Season is prime guilt season.
In the American culture, the guilt comes from the combination our obsession with nutrition and our love/hate relationship with sweets.
First, our obsession with nutrition. Look around, the media is dominated by talk about health, healthy food, how to prepare healthy food, why you should eat healthy food and getting kids to eat more healthy food.
Now, our love/hate relationship with sweets. A quick look at any website or Facebook page that shares recipes tells the whole story. People go ape over recipes for cakes, cookies, and any kind of ooey-gooey treat. And if that treat is touted as being healthy too? Watch out.
To recap: We have a sterile, medical, health-based discussion about healthy eating on one hand. And on the other hand, there’s the emotional, passionate, excitement of sweets.
But then, because we love sweets so much, and because we know we ought not to, we feel guilty when we indulge. Even the word indulge is telling. The result is guilty pleasure.
We teach kids food guilt when we overly control the crap.
We teach guilt every time we:
- Whip kids up about birthday cake (you know the chocolate cake look) but then tell them they have to eat their veggies—which we’ve prepared in the most bland and boring way possible—first.
- When we go all in and encourage the Halloween candy orgy, but then make kids give away their stash. If you want less candy around, teach your kids to collect less candy. Here’s how. (And if you think collecting less candy will ruin the fun, then you’re in the glorify phase of the love/hate relationship. If you later dump the candy, you’re in the hate phase.)
Teaching the principle of proportion neutralizes sugar’s power and eliminates guilt.
In my last post I argued that it doesn’t matter when children eat their treats. What matters is how much or how often they eat treats. But rather than tightly regulate that amount, I maintained that we ought to teach our kids the principle of proportion and teach them how to monitor their own treat intake. This requires a mindshift.
This strategy not only eliminates much of our parent/child control struggle, but it also protects kids from the guilt while preserving their pleasure. Don’t you wish you felt less guilt and simply enjoyed the pleasure? I know I do.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~
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