Candy consumption a growing concern
October 31, 2008
Mama Mia! The holiday season is coming upon us quickly and I fear for the junkfood overload that will ensue for my children. I have two boys (4 and a half years and 2 years) who love the overflowing trick-or-treating bags from Halloween, the cakes and pies at Thanksgiving and the countless plates of cookies at Christmas. How can I steer clear of the Sugar Plum fairy?
Who doesn’t love a few Snickers bars, pumpkin pie or snowman sugar cookies? Don’t feel bad about allowing a little candy or sugary baked goods in the diet of your small children. It’s not the occasional treat that’s going to cause poor life-long eating habits or childhood obesity. It’s the daily intake of artificially sweetened carbonated beverages like soda, or foods full of saturated fats like potato chips, or processed foods full of mystery ingredients, like pizza rolls from the freezer section. If you regularly provide your family with a well-balanced diet of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and high-quality dairy products, you don’t have to worry about the long-term effects of holiday feasting. Check out MyPyramid.gov to learn more about the food groups you should be serving as well as great recipes and tips for healthy eating.
You can’t expect kids to be immune from the peer pressures of holiday candy eating. Believe me, no kid wants to tell his buddies at school he wasn’t allowed to trick-or-treat because his mom fears the damaging effects of large amounts of sugar. If you try to regulate the candy intake to zero, he will be a social outcast. That could cost him, and perhaps you, years of expensive therapy in the future. If you make the goodies taboo, you run the risk of overeating and creating a bad habit of hiding food and lying about it.
Dr. Barbara K. Snyder, associate professor and director of the pediatric weight control program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey says “kids should not be restricted in dietary choices, since it has a strong chance of backfiring, and kids might eat three times the food that has been prohibited.” Dr. Snyder further comments an occasional binge will not have any negative affect on a child’s health. “My concern is what they eat throughout the year, and an occasional splurge will not cause a harmful affect, because even then candy intakes are usually limited.”
So there you have it: let them eat cake! Just make sure they have the time and place to run and play to burn off the sugar high before bed; and remember to make them brush their teeth after all that sticky sweetness!
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