When we get to this point I don't even say anything about the uneaten meals. I turn into the mean mommy who uses b/c I said so as a reason.
Do you/ how do you restrict treats? - Page 2
See I avoided that because until 5 dd had no self control. so i NEVER had treats in the house EVER. well maybe once in a while had icecream but that was VERY rarely. That was easy to do for ME coz i am not a dessert person - chips and good bread with butter. Oh MY!!!
whilst on this subject one time when dd was 7 she got to eat a PINT of icecream instead of lunch (she'd eaten a late breakfast). i dont remember the details of how that happened.
and that was the only time we have ever done it. dd STILL talks about that pint of icecream.
and SweetSilver what was hilarious to me - was that serious discussion over popsicles (i was dying inside but couldnt let even a smile out, otherwise mayhew would ensure) took care of lying for us. she never lied again... so far.
Yes we limit treats to once a day here. Usually treats here are things like muffins, brownies, cookies... I don't make sugary junk on a regular basis though, usually the really sugary stuff I bake may'be 1-2 times monthly. We limit treats here because my kiddo's would rather eat anything remotely sugary, or chock full of carbs, than go near fruits and veggies if they had the choice.
When my first two were younger, I'd just offer one small treat a day and supply them with lots of healthy food. I'd explain why we didn't buy certain foods (detailed explanations, which they seemed to get), but if they really wanted something I'd always try to find a similar item we could feel good about (Sundrops instead of M&Ms, or all-natural gummy bears instead of the kind with artificial stuff).
Anyway, as they got older I found myself in some battles with my older son about the lack of veggies and fruits in his diet. He has had texture issues since he was a toddler and slowly, between the ages of five and seven, began to drop the few whole fruits and veggies he used to eat. He'll now eat bananas and avacadoes in smoothies, and zucchini and pumpkin and bananas in muffins, and some pureed veggies in casseroles, but not in whole form. Sometimes I just don't want to do all that work, though. It's so much easier to hand someone a whole banana than to whip up a banana/avacado/chocolate smoothie. And I hate cleaning the food processor!
My youngesr son just has a really wicked sweet tooth, but he also eats tons of healthy stuff the rest of the time. My daughter is a super healthy eater for the most part.
Anyway, as we've moved into radical unschooling over the past several months, we've dropped the limits/controls entirely. The kids now help me shop and select some treats, and if they want something I have reservations about we discuss our feelings and try to find a mutually agreeable solution. The hardest thing to accept is that the youngest two now like soda, but we buy the small glass bottles and they maybe drink two a week each. I'm also trying to accept that I may be food-processing fruits and veggies for my oldest son for years to come, but I'm trying to stay grateful that he will eat fruits and veggies at all. I really don't think he can help the texture thing, and he's become so much more flexible in other areas that it wouldn't surprise me if he is willing to stretch more in this area when he becomes a teen.
Lately I'm loving Sandra Dodd's idea of the "monkey platter," which is just a huge plate or tray with several different finger foods. (Dr. Sears advocates a similar idea for toddlers). Tonight was hot and I didn't want to cook, so the platter had leftover gnocchi, avacado cubes, baby carrots, peanut butter balls, grapes, and cherries. The peanut butter balls were sweet, so no one asked for dessert afterward. My older son ate just the gnocchi and peanut butter balls.
I think the three keys to avoiding food battles in our house are:
1) Providing the kids with logical explanations about why it's important not to eat too many artificial or processed foods or too much sugar. They know about diabetes and the fact that some artifical ingredients come from petroleum. Frankly, that grosses them out. They also know that obesity is a huge problem in our region, and that being overweight has a negative effect on one's quality of life.
2) Buying some treats and not micro-managing their consumption of the treats. If we have a box of cookies, the three kids may eat it in one sitting. Or they may not. But if the overall balance from our shopping trips is healthy, I'm not concerned like I once was.
3) Involving them in the list-making and shopping processes. Having some input is very empowering.
4) Encouraging independence. They can help themselves to snacks anytime, though they know if they don't leave a reasonable amount of cookies/granola bars/blackberries/whatever for the other family members, someone is likely to be angry with them.
Sorry for the rambly post. :)
This has been a fluid thing for us over the years. We started out very strict about this simply because we didn't see any need to introduce sugar foods and drinks when she was a toddler. When she went to preschool, she was introduced to juice, and we had to adjust to her having that or be THOSE PARENTS. Still at home, we never bought junk foods. As she has aged, her access to them through social situations has increased - parties, holiday gatherings (there seems to be at least one a month!), parents who bring treats for everyone to playdates, etc. So, we've become more lenient.
At home, she regulates her own food, getting all her own meals except dinner, and eating throughout the day as she is hungry. I am pleased with the variation in her diet and the choices that she makes independently. We still don't keep a lot of treats in the house, though there will occasionally be a half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer. Treats tend to be things we've baked together. I do note that when we DO have those items in the house, the desire for them is very strong, and the asking is a bit incessant. I typically feel that if she has eaten a well balanced meal already that day (or any combinations of food that would add up to a meal if eaten at once), that I don't mind her having the treat. But I do confess being annoyed that she then wants more and more as the day progresses. I am of two minds on this. Is she learning moderation because I'm only allowing the one treat, which is moderate; or, is she not learning moderation because she is not independently making the decision to limit the treat intake? I rejoice in the moments when she has overindulged and then remarks that she has a tummy ache from eating too many treats, but I don't know that that knowledge would be preemptive if I had a help-yourself policy...
From time to time, when I feel like we've been having too many treats (like after Christmas time), I'll declare a moratorium on treats, and we will not have any for several weeks. That kind of reboots us.
I haven't read all the replies, but I got serious about cutting down on sugar a while back because I'm now convinced sugar is the heart of most of our physical problems. ("our" meaning as a society, not our family in particular.) What I decided to do is only have dessert on Sunday, so it's a special treat but we don't have to go completely without it. I also allow the kids to participate in special occasions, like birthday parties or holiday celebrations. But otherwise, I try to restrict sugar to only those times. Occasionally we cheat (I have a horrid sweet tooth which I am trying to master) but overall, we're doing pretty well. We certainly eat less sugar than the average American family, I'm sure.
I don't consider dried fruits "sweets" even though they are very sugary - but my kids don't gorge on them so it's not an issue. Oh yeah - I also got a bunch of xylitol lollipops, and they can have one at night after brushing, so they end the day on a "sweet" note. We also very rarely do juice.
Oh yeah - I don't let the kids "earn" treats because I think offering food as a reward sets a really bad precedent.
I guess I'm more on the end of regulating treats, but I actually feel like my kids get a lot of treats. They are 5 and 7 and I've definitely gotten more lenient, or given up trying to have as much control anyway, over the years. My definition of "treats" would definitely include candy (pure sugar, artificial colors, flavors, etc., no nutritional value at all), ice cream, cookies, cake, etc. But we also divide our breakfast cereal (my 7yo LOVES his cereal in the morning) into more-sweet and less-sweet, and I try to have them not have all servings of cereal in one breakfast be of the sweet kind. By sweet I don't mean Lucky Charms... I mean a still-healthy cereal that has probably more than 7 grams of sugar per serving. Like sweet granola, or honey-nut something instead of the regular flavor. But also many days I allow a "bar" when we're out doing errands or something - a granola bar (organic though) which might have chocolate chips in it.... I don't count it as a treat, but on the other hand they are a convenience food, not generally for home, I tell them. So it's a bit of a treat, but it's not a dessert. But sometimes I make bars, and I make them pretty healthful, using flax in it, or nuts, etc., so I don't mind if they eat a few of those in the day as a snack. Still they consider it a bit of a treat. I don't tie desserts to behavior -- unless we've discussed having some ice cream after dinner, for instance, but then dinner behavior is really bad.... so I might threaten that I don't think we'll have the dessert... and, during dinner, I strongly encourage trying/eating some of the veggie, and the chicken or whatever someone might have been avoiding, so we can "call it a good dinner" before we have dessert.
When it comes to crackers and things, I sort of consider plain, non-whole-grain things a treat... so the kids see Ritz as a treat - but they would only see those at a school party or my mom's or something. I do periodically buy "junk" like the tub o' chocolate cat cookies at Trader Joe's. After breaking it open there in the store for them, I usually serve them at home as little peanut butter (Teddie) sandwiches though, for snacktime after school. So that's a treat, to me. But I also don't want them to just eat a million (whole/multi grain) crackers either. So if they're having too many, I tell them to put them away and have a different category of food, a fruit, a protein, a carrot (our go-to veggie that they'll snack on!). At the same time, I suspect some food sensitivites in my older son, like dairy and gluten, that I think cause stomach problems and possibly behavior issues, so I try to steer him away from too much bread/cheese/crackers. I plan to have him tested soon for allergies, so I don't have to be so wishy-washy in my monitoring that. But more at more, at 7 years old, I'm letting him go get whatever he knows how from the fridge, and let him make his own decision about what his stomach can handle. And he's insisting on it more. He's pretty good at self-monitoring.
Candy..... only comes from "special" events, which seem to be constant! Birthday party goody bag, holidays at school, trick-or-treating, barbershop visits! I used to say no to the barber visit candy, since it's only there to encourage kids to tolerate their hair being cut, right? And my kids never minded the haircuts, so why the candy? But I stopped refusing, the barber lady would always seem like she thought I was so mean to say no to the candy. And my husband lets them have it when he takes them... So, anyway, when they end up with a small stash of candy of their own, I let them go through it pretty fast, since I just want it gone. They tend to dole out just a few to themselves a day for that on their own anyway. And I do have a not-at-breakfast-time rule. I think it's good to have SOME rule around it.
Guess I sound like a treat nazi! Do I? I actually think I let them have too much lately. I'm getting lazy, and they're getting older. They are very active, very fit, very healthy, no cavities, good about tooth-brushing. I'm not really worried.