Another holiday, another chance to increase your sugar intake. Ugh.
Is unhealthy food really a necessity to lure kids into participating in the activities that come their way? Sometimes you might think that, given the snacks that appear at such events.
No matter if you’re a MilSpouse trying to raise a happy and healthy military family or just trying to keep up your motivation to stay on your own diet, SpouseLink guest blogger Vicki DeLuzio tackles this subject in her latest post by sharing her own history with food and how she handles the food choice she encourages her children to make.
As a mom who has struggled with food and weight most of my life, I really am frustrated at the amount of food involved in every child-friendly activity!
Growing up, I looked to food for comfort and to stave off loneliness from feeling like an outsider. I wasn’t as enthusiastic about exercise as I am now, plus I fought off genetic hypothyroidism, which put me at a disadvantage with weight.
By high school, I became more active and involved with sports. But, I went to extremes with my eating. For a while I became mostly a vegetarian. My parents required me to eat fish and chicken, so I stuck with those. But, most days I didn’t really eat lunch or I would skip other meals, or just eat salads.
College was a time of discontent for me as well, and because I disliked how the food made me feel, I ate little other than bagels and salads. I had the opposite “freshman 15”, and that put me into a downward spiral of anemia, hypothyroid issues and anxiety.
I have pretty much reconciled with myself regarding food now that I am older and look at it as a fuel towards empowering me to get through each day. Sometimes, I love my gooey yummy snacks. And then, I look at the situations my kids are put in with food and I shake my head.
(Junk) Food is everywhere for my kids. Every holiday has incorporated food into the celebration. And while most cultures celebrate by eating food during their celebrations, all I see is lately is an obscene amount of junk food.
When I was growing up, valentines were just pieces of paper we gave each other. Now, each Valentine box has candy! You can find some Valentines without it, but they are far and few between. St. Patrick’s Day, more known for the Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage, now has chocolate associated with it. And don’t even get me started on Easter and Halloween! Last year we were invited to three Easter egg hunts. While I was very blessed to be invited to them, all I could only think was, “What are we going to do with the candy?”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop at the holidays. My children’s sports teams have a snack requirement at the end of each hour-long game. And, parents can even bring a snack for midgame (really?). I understand the need for water, but snacks during and after an hour-long game seems excessive. They aren’t burning that many calories.
There is a paradox on eating these days that I really do not understand. Children in school have about 15 minutes to eat their lunch, which is a shorter amount of time than an adult would get at work. So adults now have kids cramming food into their mouths, rather than enjoying the experience of the food and the camaraderie of chatting with their friends during mealtime.
I’m hoping that our generation realizes the situations we are putting our children in by making unhealthy food constantly accessible, and healthy eating times not long enough. Many of my friends who have similar health beliefs to mine let the children participate in the activities and then throw out the food afterwards. So much of our Halloween, Christmas and Easter candy ends up in the garbage, which is a complete waste!
So, what do we do about this?
1) In our household, we try to reward our kids with experiences and give the option of healthy food before offering the treats. Treats can be earned and consumed, but in small quantities. And, the reward isn’t always food. My kids started thinking donuts were going to become an every-Sunday-after-church thing until we broke the pattern and gave them something else to look forward to. We decided to go on hikes after church and give a healthy snack to fuel them through the hike. We give temporary tattoos for good behavior and try to have fun instead of having food.
2) For larger events and crowds, try to suggest alternatives to sugary treats. Oriental Trading and some other suppliers have great little “gifts” that can be put in Easter eggs or Halloween baskets for the same cost as a sugary treat. Encourage children to make something for another child’s birthday party instead of doling out the sugar. Reward children in school and have fundraisers that promote healthy exercises instead of bake sales or cookie sales.
3) I believe in modeling healthy behaviors for our kiddos. Parenting is one of the hardest things to do in life, but modeling behaviors for our children to watch and repeat is worth more than any lectures about healthy eating.
About Vicki DeLuzio:
Vicki is a mom of three kids five and under. After graduating college in Connecticut with a major in Psychology and minors in Early Childhood Education and Communication, she tried her hand at retail management at Target. Then, while working at the Juvenile Court, she met her web designing (and Army Vet) husband through mutual friends. Wanting a change of pace, cheaper taxes and warmer temperatures, they sold their home and relocated across the country in Surprise, Arizona. Vicki now blogs about all the places they go with reviews about the amenities in Surprise. She is also a licensed Real Estate Agent and loves helping people find homes in the area. You can find her at http://www.surpriseazmom.com.
What’s your go-to healthy snack? Let us know in the comments, or share your story.