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by Your Child Nutrition Expert Jill Castle

Candy Confessions from a Dietitian

February 11, 2014 | In: Parenting

I want my kids to walk by the candy jar. I want them to see it, and walk on by.

I don’t want them to be the kids who dig in every time they walk by. I don’t want them to be the kids who stuff their faces at a party or while they trek door to door on Halloween.

I don’t want that for them because I was that kid.

And sometimes I still am that kid.

My mom was on a budget in the 70’s and a mom of four, like me, who cooked every dinner, packed our lunches and let us self-serve our meal items. She was on top of the structure of mealtime, and family meals were a priority in our house. I am not very different from my mom in this respect.

My mom bought very few sweets. One package of cookies each week and rarely any candy, ice cream or other sweet treats. She made homemade sweets and desserts for parties only. Sweets were definitely scarce, I felt, and I grew to place a high regard for them.

Not surprising, my three siblings and I would inhale the package of cookies within two days– sometimes in a day. The same happened to the one bag of Lays potato chips. Gone in a flash.

My mom routinely bought herself a bag of peanut M & M’s which she stowed in her lingerie drawer. I suppose she did this because she knew the M & M’s would suffer the same fate the cookies and chips did. It was years before I discovered those M & M’s tucked in her drawer.

And when I did, you can guess what happened.

I was sneaking back to her bedroom almost daily, grabbing handfuls of those peanutty-chocolately goodies. Taking just enough to satisfy my cravings, while careful not to tip her off to my regular panty raid. (She’s probably laughing right now…I bet she knew all along.)

This childhood experience taught me several things that still haunt me today: To get candy when I could.  To eat it fast, or it’d be gone. And to hide candy if I wanted to enjoy it.

Sometimes I catch myself stowing candy from my own kids. Hiding it in the tea drawer in my kitchen, a place where they are unlikely to go. Sometimes I think I am hiding it from myself—placing it out of sight, so it will be out of my mind.

I know all too well that hiding sweets only fosters a desire for them.

Like it did for me.

Now, if I buy candy (like the sour cherry and cinnamon Valentine’s hearts that I bought yesterday), I put it out on the kitchen counter in a bowl, or in the candy dish in the dining room.

Yesterday, my kids walked by those bags of candy—several times. My Little Man tasted one and said he didn’t like it. The girls weren’t even tempted to taste. I guess it wasn’t something that interested them. Or maybe they weren’t hungry. They certainly weren’t compelled to eat it, like I would be.

You know what I have learned about my kids?

They are better self-regulated with candy than I am. While they like it and eat it—sometimes too much of it—they don’t need it. Candy isn’t laden with other feelings, like scarcity, as it is for me. Candy is a food they can take or leave, unlike their mom sometimes.

Why?

While it may sound like I am a nut case around candy, I have worked hard to be neutral around it in front of my kids, and to have it around more than my mom did. I think this has removed the forbidden aura that can co-exist with candy and other sweets.

The good news on my end is I have come a long way in my relationship with candy. I understand why I have the relationship that I do and from where it stems. And, for the most part, I manage myself pretty well.

But truth be told, I love candy. And that will probably never change.

How about you? Can you and your kids walk by the candy jar?


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3 Responses to Candy Confessions from a Dietitian

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Tara

February 11th, 2014 at 6:41 pm

wow! I could have written that story from personal experience. For me it wasn’t just the candy though. My mom cooked everything from scratch so any ‘processed’ food was gold. I also had 4 brothers so if I didn’t act quick it was gone. Now, I can forgo the processed stuff (doesn’t appeal to me) but…the sweets (even homemade ones) are tough to ignore :)

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noreen gallo

February 12th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Spot on! Love it! Kids need to know how to self-regulate to some degree. Get away from the good/bad food and more sometimes/always food!

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Marci

February 16th, 2014 at 10:45 pm

My 3 year old loves her treats and I doubt she would just pass by a bowl full of candy sitting on the counter. How were your kids at this age? I always wonder if she’s in a realm of normal or not. If we have homemade cookies for a treat, she usually starts by telling me she wants the whole pan, but this last time she ate 2, leaving one bite left on her plate. I thought to myself, I would never leave one bite of a treat on my plate, my daughter regulates far better than I.

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