Three years ago, Kelli Worley made a decision that scared her. She decided to allow her three daughters to eat as many pieces of candy as they desired. Why? She wanted to eliminate her middle daughter’s candy sneaking. And it worked.
During this “most wonderful time of the year,” with candy and treats galore, most parents put a limit on the amount of sweets your children consume. But what if you discovered candy wrappers under the bed or stashed behind bookshelves like Worley did? Then what?
Worley, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Beaumont, Texas, didn’t want to raise her children to be afraid of food. But this sneaking concerned her.
“I thought I was managing the candy okay. It was in a place they could reach, but they always knew they had to ask me if they could have some,” she said.
She allowed her girls, then ages 6, 5, and 4, to have just one piece at a time.
“It seemed like a good idea. But I realized for the 5 year old, it felt restrictive.” This child was sneaking candy on a regular basis.
Eventually Worley decided to allow all the girls to have as many pieces as they wanted.
“I just relaxed about it, but it was scary. It was like, ‘oh no, she’s going to have 10 pieces.’ ”
At first, they all had a little more candy than usual. Then they cut back to about two pieces, including the candy sneaker. The best part? No more hidden candy wrappers.
This begs the questions: Should kids be allowed to eat candy at all, and if so, how much is too much? But what about once in a while?
Nutrition Today recently published a paper that proposes a definition of candy in moderation.
The publication explains that the association between restrictive eating and the tendency to overeat has been studied extensively in children. Parents may restrict certain foods in an effort to moderate a child’s intake of calories.
Yet a review of child-feeding behaviors found that highly restrictive eating practices are consistently associated with childhood obesity. Weight gain and a preoccupation with restricted foods are often unintended consequences.
As usual, there is no one right answer, and it depends on the child. Keep in mind foods rich in protein and healthy fats slow down the effect of sugar, so a child eating well throughout the day may be less affected by sugar.
Christine Palumbo is a Naperville-registered dietitian nutritionist who is a new Fellow of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Follow her on Twitter @PalumboRD, Facebook at Christine Palumbo Nutrition, or Chris
1 cup Daisy Brand Low Fat Cottage Cheese
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 peach (may substitute 2 canned peach halves)
2 sprigs fresh mint (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Gently stir together the cottage cheese, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small bowl. Peel and slice the peaches. Place half of the peaches into two dessert glasses. Top each peach layer with the cottage cheese mixture. Top each glass with remaining peaches and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add a sprig of mint, if desired.
NUTRITION FACTS: 122 calories, 12 grams carbohydrate (1 g fiber, 11 grams sugar), 15 grams protein, 3 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 360 mg sodium.
Courtesy of Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese.