Hooray, it’s #sugarawarenessweek and everyone is telling us how bad sugar is-so I don’t want to write another post about cutting it out.
Yes, sugar is in a lot of foods and sometimes it might seem like your kids are constantly surrounded by sweets. At the bank, the dry cleaners, the doctors, birthday parties, school events and holidays… Sugar is omnipresent! I am not surprised many mums are trying to cut sugar out of their child’s diets- but not so fast! playing the sugar police can teach children the wrong habits about sweets.
5 habits you are unintentionally teaching your kids by heavily restricting sugar consumption:
- Sugar has power
Cutting out sugar puts sugary items on a pedestal, and powerful items are sought after- not discarded. So, while you might cut down your kids’ sugar consumption, their sugar cravings might increase significantly (which can result in overeating sweets when they do get a chance).
Even if this strategy works for a while, it’s still flawed- it won’t teach your kids a thing about how to moderate their own candy consumption.
- Feel guilty when you eat candy.
Some people suggest that you show your children pictures of rotten teeth, decayed from candy consumption. This is like showing smokers pictures of tar-filled lungs. Research has shown these kinds of pictures don’t do much to change behaviour- but they do a great job producing guilt. And for what? These pictures are misleading. Eating sweets moderately as part of a balanced diet won’t make your teeth fall out.
Furthermore, nutrition education doesn’t change behaviour because kids (actually- all people) make food choices based on their hedonic value — i.e. their taste. Besides- kids already know the difference between candy and carrots. One more lecture won’t tip the scales.
- You can’t be trusted to control your own sweets consumption
A lot of parents allow a few occasional sweets, but otherwise keep sweets and candy locked away. Of course, the idea is that what’s out of sight is out of mind. This is a strategy that works to limit consumption, but at what cost? It teaches kids to feel out of control and to covet the candy they crave.
So, while it is good to be #sugaraware, we should avoid using words such as “bad” or “guilty” to describe foods- and instead opt for building “less sweet” habits. Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in meals, and always offer a large variety of foods and tastes for snacks. This can stop kids from forming a habit around only eating sweet tasting foods-and balance out their occasional treats.