Easter Sweets

Easter was a blast - the kids were old enough to tenuously grasp the idea that a magic bunny brought them a basket of candy and toys. They were very good during the extra-long church service, and they had a great time with their older cousins, who got a REAL bunny - the undisputed star of the day. The aftermath of a day of candy-gorging for two-year-olds? Not so sweet.

My little-to-no sugar policy for the kids has come under fire before, and I've gotten the gamut of reactions from people who think it's draconian and borderline abusive to serve a birthday "cake" that's barely sweet (for their first birthday) to people who think it's just naïve and that as soon as they get to go to friends' houses, they'll glut themselves on sugar (or TV, or anything else I restrict.). SO let me expound a little bit on my carefully-considered sugar policy, and give you some food for thought if you haven't come up against the sweet white beast yet.

First, an admission - I have a sugar problem. If I could, everything I ate would be sweet - I enjoy sweet and sour, bittersweet, and sweet and salty as well - but I never met a baked good that disagreed with me. Growing up, we didn't have junk food in the house, and I learned to love veggies and got a good education on how to eat healthy, balanced meals. I feel like I'm up to speed with the nutritional recommendations and our family diet includes lots of whole grains, fiber, minimally processed foods including fruits and veggies, and healthy fats. But I can't. give. up. the. sugar. Remember that scene in Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor's character boards himself up into a room so he can go through heroin withdrawal? Well, it's not that bad, but shades of this happen to me when I try to give up, or even lower my sugar intake. I get the moodiness, the "sugar rages," the dizzying highs and energy crashes - I recognize that it's a problem, and I don't want my kids to have this unhealthy relationship with sweets, or the type-2 diabetes that's begun to plague the older generation on both sides of their family tree.

I recognize myself in my little girl, who attacked her basket with zest, and would've eaten it all in one sitting if I hadn't stopped her. As it was, this morning, by 9 am, they had dug out the little plastic baggies of candy and treats from the day before and were scarfing down the remaining chocolate and jellybeans. Full disclosure, the baskets had mostly non-candy treats: bubbles, stickers, lip balm, books, and stampers. Then we went with yogurt-covered raisins and rainbow goldfish - two lower-sugar treats that they love. Just a handful of jellybeans, a couple of peeps, some chocolate eggs and a small chocolate bunny topped it off because, hey - it's Easter. Candy IS a special-occasion treat, and Easter is a special occasion.

All the non-sweet items were tossed aside unceremoniously and they proceeded to wolf down the candy like little monsters. Could I get them to touch their breakfast? Not even a banana. When my daughter had finished hers, she started on her brother's candy. She was shocked at the time-out that occurred for boldly stealing his loot.  When she had calmed down and I got her to understand that she was only to eat her own, there was yet another meltdown when she realized she'd already finished hers and there was no more to be had. He was eating candy and running around and banging and destroying things - typical boy behavior that is very unusual for my own son.

I've read the studies that say sugar is not linked to hyperactivity- good for science! It may not be the sugar as a chemical compound to which their little brains become addicted. What I do know is that when my little sweeties have any of that stuff, they become totally different toddlers. They run around like crazy people, they can't concentrate on anything I say, or anything else for more than 3 seconds, they whine for more, and they are even more prone to collapsing on the floor in paroxysms of pathos. You may be thinking to yourself, "This sounds like completely typical toddler behavior." I agree! But knowing my own kids, I can tell you it's magnified. And totally unpleasant to deal with times two.

Basically, it makes my job easier to not have the temptations around for things that kids have a really hard time regulating. They already whine for more time to play with daddy's iPhone, even though they get maybe 15 minutes a week or less. Same with the computer - I play short YouTube clips of Sesame Street and similar kids' programs sometimes, and I always get requests for "More Cookie Monster!!" I'm trying to keep sweet treats as a special occasion food, not every meal or even every day, so that when they do get some, it will be special. The problem is, any amount I give them just makes them cry when I don't give them more. And more! AND MORE!!!!

There are definitely camps that posit not limiting sugar or snacks, having it available and within reach at all times, so the kid can snack as they see fit. They say this helps strengthen the kids' own internal willpower and since it isn't taboo or special, the kids don't care about it as much. I call BS! I know myself, and my kids, and they wouldn't stop until it was all gone. Then they would cry for more, and continue this process until we were all obese. They are kids with a genetic propensity for major sweet toothage - they aren't gulping down candy because it's novel or taboo, they're doing it because it's delicious, delicious candy. As a parent, I'm supposed to help them make good choices while simultaneously encouraging them to develop their own internal good-choice making abilities, and for us, it boils down to NO MORE SUGAR.

Until Mommy gets a hankering to bake cookies again, and then I probably have to share....

No comments:

Post a Comment