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Sweets and Treats. How to manage sugary foods and other 'junk' foods part 2 : SNACKS AND CANDY

If you’ve been reading along, we covered dessert last time. As a refresher, I’m encouraging desserts to be served with (or just after) meals with no imposed “correct” amounts of dinner to be eaten before dessert is served. Dinner is dinner and dessert is dessert. Both are given equal weight of importance. Some families may serve dessert occasionally and some more often depending on what is normal for your household.

What about snacks?

Following the lead of expert Children’s Dietitian, Ellyn Satter, I encourage you to offer something sweet for snack time occasionally and offer it in unlimited amounts. What does this mean? Occasionally served a plate of chocolate cookies (or other enticing treats) and let the kids decide how much to eat. Offer milk on the side as a healthy accompaniment but don’t restrict portions. Then wait. Take a breath a watch. Don’t make faces, grimaces or comments and let them decide when their body is full.

New practice in your house? Don’t be surprised if kids are skeptical, eat quickly, or much more than you would assume. Over time they will learn that this is just a normal occurrence in your house, and they will stop mid-cookie and say, “I’m done”.

What about candy?

Candy has a bad name. Everything from causing behaviour problems to hyperactivity. If you caught my “Halloween Candy“ blog, you’ll know that the research on candy doesn’t support these findings. This behaviour is more likely related to the exciting environment. When candy is added at planned meals/snacks (instead of a replacement for these foods) it doesn’t have the negative effects we tend to associate with sugar. So if you really want to shake things up, offer candy at snack time with your usual offerings and let them eat and enjoy! I would also encourage you to *gasp* eat some too. Model a healthy relationship with food. Take the power back from candy and it’s no longer this mythical and mysterious food. Offering these “forbidden foods” helps decrease risk of binge eating these foods at a later time.

Just a note though: candy can cause cavities or “sugar bugs” as we call them. So limit the time candy is in their mouth (eg avoid prolonged sucking of lollipops etc.) and make sure to use good dental hygiene later.

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