As many of my readers know, I have been attempting to incorporate a focus on healthy eating in my home. I have always placed an importance on this in the past, but long ago fell into the trap of loving to “cheat” and have “treats” with my son. Although these extras were meant to be occasional, they quickly turned into a more frequent occurrence. As time went by, I began to see just how much I was relying on these food “treats” as rewards and perks for my son.
I think many of us fall into the trap of giving our kids food that is bad for them as a reward for their positive behaviors and achievements. I know that I potty trained my son with the promise of a “clean and dry treat” every morning he woke up accident free from the day prior. Three years later and he still has a “clean and dry treat” every morning and probably will for many more years. We go out for ice cream as a reward for good behavior, he gets through a tough experience at the dentist or doctor and I take him for a cupcake. What I began to notice in myself is that I have been using sugar filled food items as a gesture of love toward my son.
As I have now taken the time to truly educate myself in the area of nutrition, I find that I am laughing at myself when I think about what I have been doing. A doctor recently said to me that rather than calling these items a treat, we should label them what they are instead, poison. At least then we are being honest with ourselves about what we are placing into our bodies. When I heard him say this to me, it all clicked and I understood immediately that the lesson I was teaching my son around food, especially junk food, was not a healthy one.
The road toward healthier eating has not been an easy one. It is not easy to draw yourself away from the lure of cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, and candy. Especially when you are only five. The other night at dinner when my son realized I was serious about his having to finish his vegetables, I was quickly served a litany of his dislike of his city, his home, and his desire to move to another country without me. It took every bit of me not to laugh out loud at this, but I can tell you we sure did have a laugh about it later.
I know my son is young and wants to enjoy these “yummy” snacks, but I have also learned that there are many fun ways for us to make healthier deserts that we can feel good about. We can limit the ones that are truly bad for him, and most of all I can call these food items exactly what they are and stop using them as a show of love. It’s definitely a one-day-at-a-time process and hopefully we will remain living in America during the processJ