So frustrated with 8.5yo ds and sugar - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 12:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I apologize in advance for the length of this.

I have always tried to provide a lot of freedom around food and allow the kids to make their own choices within a healthy framework. We buy high quality food - organic, whole grains, no high fructose corn syrup, etc. I make healthy dinners. We model healthy eating. We go to farmer's markets. We cook together. We grow a garden. We get eggs from our chickens.

Ds1 is a junk food junkie, and I can't take it anymore. Even as a 4-5yo, he would steal sugar out of the baking cupboard. He only wants to eat foods like macaroni and cheese, french fries, hamburgers, and of course, sugar sugar sugar. He begs me for it constantly. Every time we go anywhere, he pleads for "treats." When we talk about going to a movie, the first thing he mentions is getting soda pop. If we talk about going over to his grandparents' house the first thing he mentions is getting to have ice cream. He's obsessed.

Today was the last straw. I helped him pack his own lunch. He chose a salami and cream cheese sandwich, some homemade banana bread, some tortilla chips we had left over from a party, some cheddar bunnies and a sliced apple. I picked him up from his class, and he said he was starving. We were going straight to another class, so we didn't have time to stop at home. I asked him if he ate all his lunch, and he said yes. I had bought some hot cross buns at Whole Foods for lunch with a friend, and said he could have one. I handed the bag into the backseat (I was driving) and specifically said to not eat more than one. Next thing I hear is "Sorry mom, they were too good, I had to eat 3."

Then at swim practice I agreed to get him a hot chocolate because it's really cold when he gets out of the pool. Then the coach hands out M&Ms because it's "Fun Friday." We decide to go out to dinner, and he wants mac and cheese and french fries. We agree, because he won't eat anything else, and we're having kind of a celebratory night out. We even agree to let him get a 7-up that comes with the kid's meal, which we don't normally do. Then he begs to have grenadine syrup added. At the end of the meal, he begs for dessert. We never ever ever get dessert at restaurants, but for some reason dh says yes.

Then, we get home, and I'm unpacking his lunch bag - he had not taken a single bite of his sandwich. He ate none of the apple. All he ate was the banana bread and tortilla chips. So literally all he has had today is sugar and white flour.

I am so angry. I feel like I am being forced to become a food tyrant. And it's unfair for the rest of us. I used to like to bake a lot, and ds loves to bake with me, but he bugs me the whole time - can I have some plain sugar? Can I have some more of the dough? Please please please? Then he'll eat so much of what I've made that there's barely any left over for anyone else. If I make "healthy" baked goods, he's not interested, but then honestly, those really aren't much fun for any of us. Our brief foray into giving an allowance was ended because all he wanted to do with his money was buy junk. He rejects all the dinners I make unless they are "plain" - grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes (with nothing else in it, of course), etc. I can't eat like that - I don't even like meat.

I'm just done. I feel like he needs to be taken off sugar entirely. He's healthy, he's very athletic, he's incredibly trim and muscular, but my daily experience with him is so overshadowed by his constant obsession with junk food that I just can't take it. He did a trial day at a small private school (we homeschool, and he's asked to go to school next year) and the first thing he asked was if they had a cafeteria. When I said no, he said "Shoot, I was hoping I could get some cookies when you're not around."

I don't think it's fair that the whole family can't continue to have sweets in moderation, so I don't know what to do. Do I go completely cold turkey for just him? Do I include even birthday parties and such? What about stuff like waffles with syrup? I'm afraid he's going to start sneaking and lying even more than he does, and I really don't want our relationship to go down a bad path because of this. I have no idea what to do.
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#2 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 01:19 AM
 
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I'm no expert, but I just watched the new show on TV, called "Food Revolution" by Jamie Oliver. It was episode #2, and I think there will be 8 in total. He goes into an elementary school in West Virginia and tries to teach the children about real food, and tries to revamp the entire cafeteria so that they stop making and serving junk, and instead make healthy meals. He wants to revamp all of the schools in West Virginia, and then the rest of the U.S.

I watched it and plan on showing it to my children (8 and 11) because I think it was THAT good and really inspiring, I think. The food looked lovely, too.

Perhaps something like that might sink in a little for him?
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#3 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 01:20 AM
 
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As for waffles with syrup, why not hide the syrup and pretend that you accidentally forgot to buy some and serve the waffles with fresh strawberries or blueberries piled high instead?
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#4 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 01:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The show is a good idea, and I will definitely watch that with him. It also makes me wonder if there are any good kid oriented videos that discuss the effect of sugar on the body.

(The only berries he likes are strawberries, but since they are finally back in season I can certainly have more of those on hand.)
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#5 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 09:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I apologize in advance for the length of this.

I have always tried to provide a lot of freedom around food and allow the kids to make their own choices within a healthy framework. We buy high quality food - organic, whole grains, no high fructose corn syrup, etc. I make healthy dinners. We model healthy eating. We go to farmer's markets. We cook together. We grow a garden. We get eggs from our chickens.

Ds1 is a junk food junkie, and I can't take it anymore. Even as a 4-5yo, he would steal sugar out of the baking cupboard. He only wants to eat foods like macaroni and cheese, french fries, hamburgers, and of course, sugar sugar sugar. He begs me for it constantly. Every time we go anywhere, he pleads for "treats." When we talk about going to a movie, the first thing he mentions is getting soda pop. If we talk about going over to his grandparents' house the first thing he mentions is getting to have ice cream. He's obsessed.

Today was the last straw. I helped him pack his own lunch. He chose a salami and cream cheese sandwich, some homemade banana bread, some tortilla chips we had left over from a party, some cheddar bunnies and a sliced apple. I picked him up from his class, and he said he was starving. We were going straight to another class, so we didn't have time to stop at home. I asked him if he ate all his lunch, and he said yes. I had bought some hot cross buns at Whole Foods for lunch with a friend, and said he could have one. I handed the bag into the backseat (I was driving) and specifically said to not eat more than one. Next thing I hear is "Sorry mom, they were too good, I had to eat 3."

Then at swim practice I agreed to get him a hot chocolate because it's really cold when he gets out of the pool. Then the coach hands out M&Ms because it's "Fun Friday." We decide to go out to dinner, and he wants mac and cheese and french fries. We agree, because he won't eat anything else, and we're having kind of a celebratory night out. We even agree to let him get a 7-up that comes with the kid's meal, which we don't normally do. Then he begs to have grenadine syrup added. At the end of the meal, he begs for dessert. We never ever ever get dessert at restaurants, but for some reason dh says yes.

Then, we get home, and I'm unpacking his lunch bag - he had not taken a single bite of his sandwich. He ate none of the apple. All he ate was the banana bread and tortilla chips. So literally all he has had today is sugar and white flour.

I am so angry. I feel like I am being forced to become a food tyrant. And it's unfair for the rest of us. I used to like to bake a lot, and ds loves to bake with me, but he bugs me the whole time - can I have some plain sugar? Can I have some more of the dough? Please please please? Then he'll eat so much of what I've made that there's barely any left over for anyone else. If I make "healthy" baked goods, he's not interested, but then honestly, those really aren't much fun for any of us. Our brief foray into giving an allowance was ended because all he wanted to do with his money was buy junk. He rejects all the dinners I make unless they are "plain" - grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes (with nothing else in it, of course), etc. I can't eat like that - I don't even like meat.

I'm just done. I feel like he needs to be taken off sugar entirely. He's healthy, he's very athletic, he's incredibly trim and muscular, but my daily experience with him is so overshadowed by his constant obsession with junk food that I just can't take it. He did a trial day at a small private school (we homeschool, and he's asked to go to school next year) and the first thing he asked was if they had a cafeteria. When I said no, he said "Shoot, I was hoping I could get some cookies when you're not around."

I don't think it's fair that the whole family can't continue to have sweets in moderation, so I don't know what to do. Do I go completely cold turkey for just him? Do I include even birthday parties and such? What about stuff like waffles with syrup? I'm afraid he's going to start sneaking and lying even more than he does, and I really don't want our relationship to go down a bad path because of this. I have no idea what to do.
You know my kid is the same age and she is the same way.

I just don't allow her to have the treats. Those hot cross buns, don't give them to him. That hot chocolate, don't give it to him. Don't make a huge big deal about it because then you will encourage the sneaky behavior, but don't offer. Don't buy it. also, if one has a problem and it needs to be addressed, then sometimes the whole family has to do a little sacrifice for a while.

Good Luck!

lady Mummy to Smoosh, 8-2005. Waldorf inspired homeschooler and crazy knitter!
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#6 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 09:49 AM
 
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How much protein is he getting? I know my sugar cravings go up if I don't get a good portion of protein first thing. Could you start keeping nuts in the car for fast snacks?

Could he be starting a growth spurt?

Also, grains tend to be "more-ish" (you have some and you feel like some more) and mess up hunger cues. So any meal that includes a grain should have a palate cleanser. (E.g. eat waffle, have some melon, drink some water, then decide if you're hungry for another waffle)

Educating about sugar is great, but that still makes it all about will power and will power is a horrible thing to rely on when you've got a craving. Much much better to eat something that helps stop the craving.
http://www.2ndwindbodyscience.com/wh...our%20food.php

Oh, and as someone who has a hard time with moderation with sweets, it would've done wonders to have had family practice time with having a few then stopping, eating to savor the taste, buying one really good X instead of a whole package of inferior X.
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#7 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 10:25 AM
 
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I agree that sugar cravings can be caused by not getting enough protein. I would try to watch that he is getting something with a high amount of protein first thing after waking, and then throughout the day.

And I also think (know) that sugar is addictive. The more he gets the more he wants. Some people can eat it in moderation, but a lot have trouble regulating it. I agree with a pp that your best bet is just to take it out of the equation. No offers of hot chocolate (what about steamed milk or soup as a hot-liquid alternative?). Bring a protein-rich snack for when you pick him up after school (or whenever you are going out).

I imagine it will be difficult because at this point he knows that these are things that you have permitted in the past. My kids have never had the choice of anything other than water, milk or sometimes juice in a restaurant so they don't think of asking for anything else. Maybe start with some sugar education, and then explain that you are going to be making some changes. I wonder if cold turkey will be the way to go? I'll let someone who has BTDT speak to that.

Good luck mama!

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#8 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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Lots of s to you, mama - this is a tough, tough thing.

I may be able to offer a little insight into your son's perspective. I was a junk-food-addicted kid in a VERY healthy-eating household. To this day I don't think my mother keeps granulated sugar in her kitchen, and her cookies still taste like sawdust to most people. When we were really little (i.e., before we wised up), she actually made hot cocoa for us with plain baking cocoa and milk, without sugar.

I went through a few years as a child when I craved sugar constantly. Any "treats" would do, but my favorite treats were almost pure sugar, things like candy necklaces and jellybeans. I remember sneaking around the house in the middle of the night trying to figure out where my parents had hidden the Halloween candy. I found it, then when my mother caught me at it I lied about having candy squirreled away in my clothes and came up with some lame excuse for why I was in the basement at midnight.

I even remember having anguished dreams about junk food, waking up crying because I didn't have any.

I'm still not sure what caused this incredibly out-of-balance obsession with sugar, for me, but nothing my family did seemed to make much difference at the time. Perhaps some of it had to do with power: because my parents made the decisions about food and portion control, I craved "more" because I couldn't get it. The school even had a note from my mother instructing them that I was absolutely in no circumstances allowed to have chocolate milk for lunch.

Here's the good news: this phase ended decisively by the time I was about 12. My family never indulged this addiction, but they never went "cold turkey" with it either - I had occasional treats and infrequently overindulged (think Easter baskets), but mostly I was pretty limited in the kind of food I could have. I never had an allowance as a child - perhaps it was for this reason. I should probably ask.

By the time I had the freedom and buying power to get treats on my own, in middle school, I had completely internalized my parents' lessons about healthy eating. They "held the line" with a combination of strictness, honesty and occasional indulgence that allowed me to make really good, healthy food choices as a teenager and young adult.

I'm not sure if any of this helps ... but if you like, I can ask mom for her perspective and see if she has any advice based on what worked with me!

I'm traveling the world with my kids without ever leaving home and blogging about it -- watch, taste, and share our adventures at TheGlobalStayCation.com!
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#9 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I think you may be sending mixed and confusing messages to him.

I know you have no desire to control your sweet intake, but I'm going to hand you three buns and expect you to only eat one.

I don't want you to have sugar, but here's a hot chocolate (7up, dessert).

I don't want you to have any "treats" but the rest of us don't want to give up our "treats". (Like it's something horrible that you wouldn't even want to THINK about for yourself, but you are going to expect him to do it).

If he goes to school next year there will probably be a lot of trading lunch items, class party type of situations, other kids bringing candy to school to share, etc. He probably will be eating a lot of junk behind your back, especially if they have vending machines. It may seem to him like you are "sneaking off" eating treats (your lunch trip) so why can't he?

Have you tried having a scheduled treat during the day? Maybe right after school, or right after supper everyone can have a choice out of a selection of treats. If there is any whining or begging for more treats, or asking for treats at a time when he knows you aren't going to give him one, you could work out a consequence.
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#10 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 02:59 PM
 
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His diet is very low in protein (which I know kids often don't like ) and very high in carbs, not just sugar but flour. He's likely bouncing from sugar high to crash to sugar high.

Instead of tortilla chips what about string cheese? Greek yogurt? Kefir? He needs to get more protein in somehow. Plus fat which will satiate him.

And he's old enough to learn more about nutrition and how it's important to have a balanced diet. Jaimie Oliver's show is a good start, but I would add some conversation about what carbs do to the body and how they need to be balanced by protein, fat, and veggies.

HTH
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#11 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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I'd look into the protein. And I'd also look into hypoglycemia - which back when I was young was unknown/undiagnosed/misdiagnosed.... Hypoglycemia really makes you HIGH when you are on a high - and wow, that feels really good. Only problem is you crash - real hard, and then you are so low your brain can hardly function and you NEED (I don't mean want here - its much deeper than that), you really NEED to get back up again, just to function, without fogging out or passing out. I have hypoglycemia. My DD doesn't have it, my DS does. If it comes down to eating 10 beans they hate, just to get ice cream or a cookie, my DS will do it, DD will walk away.

This is how I combat the problem.

1. make sure there is plenty of healthy food, and not just vegetables, but fruits with more natural sugars, proteins, and stabilizing grains....

2. Make sure this is throughout the day. If you wait over 4 hours the blood sugar level goes so low that you feel you NEED a cookie, as opposed to after 2 only hours, when you can want a cookie, but can take a banana or whole grain bread...

3. DS and I can have sugar (ice cream, lolipop, cookie, coca cola, whatever...) but ONLY and I mean ONLY directly after some more balanced food, which will help stabilize the sugars. This prevents the really crazy highs, but it also prevents the really irrational lows.

4. If we actually hit a low, I actually stop whatever it is I am doing and eat something. I have actually on rare occasions said to my dh "STOP. NOW. FOOD." And I literally stand there, or go directly to whatever food source there is, and as an adult, I pick the most balanced, healthy thing I can find, because I know that the sweet thing may bring me back faster, but the repercussions later will be severe. But I don't think a child can have this sort of rationale. They might not even be able to communicate how utterly urgent food is at this moment.

5. I make sure after sleeping, when the blood sugar is lowest, my DS gets a glass of fresh OJ first in the morning, so he can function, then a healthy breakfast like oatmeal... When he was 2-3yo he literally could not even eat until he had the juice. It starts the day so much better.

Of all these, #3 is the most critical point.

I hope this can be of use to you. If this is not the case, then sorry for the long post.
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#12 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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At that age his caloric need might be increasing pretty rapidly, and I don't see much to satisfy his caloric and protein needs other than sugars. His instinct is going to be to get the calories he needs in the easiest way possible. The salami and cream cheese would have. I would have just packed that, some cheese, and some fruit.

I would have lots of high protein snack food around. As far as plain chicken goes, I've cooked a few bone-in chicken breasts each week and kept the chicken in the fridge for snacks. He could have plain chicken as a snack and that might fill him up and keep him from having such big cravings, since he likes chicken.

And finally, we just don't keep stuff in the house I don't want my 8-year-old dd to eat. She gets hungry, a lot and very hungry as she gets huge growth spurts like all kids that age, but she's got to work with what's here. Cheese, fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, etc. I don't limit how much, but I just don't buy other stuff unless I buy it with the understanding that it might all be gone very quickly. If I get cheddar bunnies, she'll sit and eat them all at once, so I don't get those very often at all, for instance. We make bread, and I let her have that, but I have her put butter or peanut butter on it to make it more filling. Homemade bread is more dense anyway. I think kids naturally gravitate toward what's the easiest to get in their mouths, so something like crackers are going to win over bread that needs peanut butter spread on it, if crackers are around. But if crackers aren't in the house, she's much more inventive.

I'd let restaurant meals slide, personally. We eat out very seldom, but those few times we eat out, I'm relaxed about it. But the poor quality of eat-out food is a big reason why we hardly ever eat out. So long as most of what he eats comes from home, and only healthy food is at home (but plenty of tasty healthy food), he'll be fine.
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#13 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 04:03 PM
 
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At that age his caloric need might be increasing pretty rapidly, and I don't see much to satisfy his caloric and protein needs other than sugars. His instinct is going to be to get the calories he needs in the easiest way possible. The salami and cream cheese would have. I would have just packed that, some cheese, and some fruit.


And if you don't want him to have treats so much then don't offer them to him and if he asks, say no to the treat and give him another option. Sometimes we have to give up things that we like because its in the best interest of our kids....or at least wait until they are in bed to have them.
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#14 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 04:07 PM
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I noticed the high carbs, too. OP, all the foods you mentioned over the course of that one day (besides the sandwich filling) were things that spike your blood sugar and can cause a crash.
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#15 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 04:38 PM
 
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I know it doesn't feel fair that the whole family should be deprived of treats because of one member of the family, but that's pretty much what's happened in our household. I don't buy ANYTHING unless I'd be okay with everyone having some (and knowing that I have kids who will sneak behind my back to get sugar). When I do buy treats, I buy a small amount. Because leftovers = kids sneaking/stealing treats.

I know exactly where you're coming from, because it happens at my house too. I have to keep the sugar in a (locked) freezer in the basement. If I don't, I'll wake up in the morning to my 8yo DD eating a cup of plain sugar. It's friggin ridiculous, and sooooo annoying.

My DH used to hide his special treats in our closet, but it got raided so many times that he's pretty much given up on it. So DH and I have our treats away from the house when it's just to two of us. I'm not a sweets person, so it doesn't bother me too much. But DH has a hard time with it- he LOVES sweets and sometimes feels deprived that we don't have them in the house.

My kids generally don't ask for treats outside of the house because I NEVER say yes. I pack snacks to take with us, but never buy sweets as a special treat (for example at the zoo or whatever). They'll bug DH though, because sometimes he does say yes.

I'll commiserate with you, because I have the same issues at my house. I'm not sure if moderation is something that can be taught or not. Some of my kids can self-moderate (food, screen time, etc), and some of my kids can't.

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#16 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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I know I go against what alot of MDC believes, but I don't think sugar is a bad thing.

Think about breastmilk, which most of us feed our babies. It's ridiculously sweet. That means that kids develop a taste for sweet stuff from the very beginning. So why is it a surprise when kids still want sweet things?
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#17 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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I was your son when I was a kid. My parents ate extremely healthily and very , very low fat and vegetarian. I was totally meat and sugar obsessed to the point where I would try and steal money to buy 'treats'. Obviously this was not good and ultimately I had an eating disorder by the time I was a teen.

My eating is now totally normalised, mainly tahnks to my DH who is great. DD gets sweet things every day - not a lot, but some - like a cookie in the afternoon.

A suggestion from a dietician who I used to see was to give your child some control back. Like Every saturday go to a sweet shop and buy a cup of whatever he wants (HFCS even). He can eat these whenever he wants - he can gorge on them right away, he can eat a few each day...whatever. But the control of 'yummy things' is in his hands. And it has to be totally regular and never cancelled even if he's been misbehaving etc. It's just a part of life. I would like to do this with DD when she is old enough.

ETA: I think totally stopping all sugar would only make things much, much worse. I think your DS is at an age where he needs to have more control of what he puts into his body, not less. It's clear to me that he already has an unhealthy attitude towards sweet things. We are genetically programmed to prefer sweet things (they are caloric, provide quick energy and are more like breast milk).

If you gave him more free rein, you might find he goes a bit beserk at first but then his eating/cravings might normalize. I strongly believe that if you limit him more he will just get more sneaky.

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#18 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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A suggestion from a dietician who I used to see was to give your child some control back. Like Every saturday go to a sweet shop and buy a cup of whatever he wants (HFCS even). He can eat these whenever he wants - he can gorge on them right away, he can eat a few each day...whatever. But the control of 'yummy things' is in his hands. And it has to be totally regular and never cancelled even if he's been misbehaving etc. It's just a part of life. I would like to do this with DD when she is old enough.
We do this with DD. She's 3. After supper every night she gets a tiny treat. It doesn't matter how much supper she eats/doesn't eat. She always gets her treat. She no longer begs during the day and when she asks when we are out we can say "When do you get a treat? That's right, after supper" and sometimes we'll buy what she's requesting and save it for after supper. On very very very rare occasions we'll actually eat a treat when we're out. But that's every 2 or 3 months.

What I think is interesting is that she'll often eat 1 bite of her supper and ask to be excused. Then, once DH and I are done (which is the rule for asking for her treat) she'll ask for a treat and eat it. Then, because we leave her supper on the table, she'll often eat the rest of her supper after. It seems to work well for us.
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#19 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 08:19 PM
 
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My dd would rather have sweets than anything else. She got into a cycle of eating a small amount of the healthy food I served and putting on a convincing act of being full then eat a lot of dessert once I brought it out. We have started a rule about eating a specific amount from each food group before she can ask for anything sweet. We do two fruits, two to three veggies, one protein that isn't meat, and one meat (she eats grains and dairy just fine). It is working so far. Our desserts are also very small and not something that a meal can be made from.
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#20 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 08:52 PM
 
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What we do is only have sweets/desserts on Sundays after church (generally ice cream). That is the only time we have ice cream or any desserts and my kids know this, they know if they ask for ice ceam any other time the answer will be "no" (of course, we do make exceptions for birthday parties and special occasions).


I think what you need to do is stop making the sweets/sugar a regular part of his diet, and just have scheduled times to have them. Allow the sweets, but within boundries For example, just do away with the hot chocolate after swimming or dessets at dinners out or hot buns "just because". Pick a specific time to have the treats/sweets (whether that is once a day, once a week, 2 times a week, whatever), and then stick to those times. My kids seem to do really well if they know the rules and boundries and we follow them consistently. They don't ask for treats when out, because they know I don't buy them.

I think eliminating sugar all together is a bad idea, as it would be almost impossible and he's old enough that he could get it himself if he wanted to,
however it might help everyone to limit the sweets/treats to specific times...then you all get to enjoy them within a certain boundry.

ETA:
I also love to bake and actually do a lot of it, however I do make a point of making most of my baking healthier, (so cookies with whole wheat flour, oats peanut butter and honey, instead of just white flour and sugar) or muffins with whole wheat flour and pumpkin, etc. You actually can make really tasty treats that are on the healthier side, you just need to find good recipies and experiment and see what works. I find that "white-whole wheat flour" does really well substituting for all-purpose flour in many recipies, and oftentimes you can decrease the sugar by quite a bit.

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#21 of 54 Old 03-27-2010, 10:38 PM
 
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I think there are some really good ideas here about providing a diet with more protein & fat that will better satisfy his caloric needs that he is striving to fill with sugar.

But I strongly disagree with the concept of completely eliminating all "treats" from his diet. I really think that has the real potential to create negative associations with these foods: the whole forbidden fruit thing. Dh & I both struggle with "treat" foods & we both feel it is largely do to the strict regulation of these items by our parents when we were young (my Mom just didn't have money for them & dh's just didn't permit them except in very small & unpredictable amounts).

Imo the only way for anyone to learn moderation with anything is to have the opportunity to practice that skill & practice usually means there will be "failures" along the way.

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#22 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 01:03 AM
 
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I would suggest reading one of Ellyn Satter's books. Probably "How to get your child to eat...but not too much".

If your son is thin and athletic, it could partially be that his body is looking for more calories, and so he is choosing calorie dense food.

There is a possibility too of finding foods that he craves, that are suitable. Whole wheat mac & cheese with added cheese and/or meat, is not going to be much different than a salami & cream cheese sandwich. There are ice creams that aren't much different nutritionally than sweetened yogurt. Or we make smoothies with banana, frozen strawberries, milk and pb, that taste like milkshakes (the pb really adds something to it).

We make black bean brownies that we all prefer over the no-bean kind.
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#23 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 03:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone. I've calmed down a bit from when I wrote my first post. Just to clarify - he actually does eat a lot of protein. He particularly likes beans and tuna straight from the can. He has asked recently to no longer be served chicken, however, because we have pet chickens. I don't eat red meat, but on the rare occasion that dh makes a steak, ds1 loves it.

I do try to bake with whole wheat flours, nut butters, oatmeal, etc. But there is usually sugar (or at the very least maple syrup), and he does make me crazy begging to eat the sugar.

I think the crux of the problem is that I really don't feel comfortable managing what other people eat. I am very sensitive to eating what feels right to me, and will feel really ill if I eat something that is wrong for me at that moment, even if it's something I usually like.

I want to be able to let him lick the bowl, but not eat spoonfuls of sugar out of the box until he makes himself sick. I want to be able to let him get an ice cream cone after a baseball game, but then not beg me for more sugar 10 minutes later when we're in a grocery store. So this is why I have resisted any rules around food - treats only at this time, or only this amount per day. I have really wanted it to be a more fluid, natural thing.

We are not going to go zero sugar on the poor kid. Dh and I talked about it, and not only is it unrealistic, but it would be so sad for him. But I am going to have to face that I have to be more clear about setting boundaries for him, even though it's something I'm uncomfortable with.
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#24 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 07:37 AM
 
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I think the crux of the problem is that I really don't feel comfortable managing what other people eat. I am very sensitive to eating what feels right to me, and will feel really ill if I eat something that is wrong for me at that moment, even if it's something I usually like.

I want to be able to let him lick the bowl, but not eat spoonfuls of sugar out of the box until he makes himself sick. I want to be able to let him get an ice cream cone after a baseball game, but then not beg me for more sugar 10 minutes later when we're in a grocery store. So this is why I have resisted any rules around food - treats only at this time, or only this amount per day. I have really wanted it to be a more fluid, natural thing.
It does sound like the crux of the problem may be that you have never set or enforced any rules around food and eating with him. I think it's perfectly normal to let him lick the bowl, but not eat spoonsfuls of sugar. My kids all lick the bowl after we bake, but I have never, ever let them eat plain, straight sugar. The thought of eating plain sugar is just gross to me, it wouldn't ever occur to me to ever let a kid do that, even if they wanted to (for one thing, eating spoonsfuls straight from the bag would get germs in the entire bag).

What I would suggest is you sit down with him and your dh and let him know you are concerned about his eating, explain why too much sugar isn't healthy and together come up with some "boundries" (like only 1 sweet item a day, or not eating plain sugar, etc.) and then the parents are responsible for enforcing them WITH him. I think it would be really helpful for you, your dh and your son to all come up with these rules together and you all agree to enforce them together.

Also,keep in mind that telling him he can't eat cookies, right after eating ice cream, is NOT the same thing as telling he HAS to eat something, he doesn't want. There is a world of difference between telling someone "sorry, no ice cream right now", vs. FORCING them to eat something they don't want. I never FORCE my kids to eat anything, but I also certainly don't let them eat whatever they want either.

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#25 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 09:31 AM
 
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It isn't really that we restrict sugary stuff so much as that w don't keep it in the house. If we're out, she can have dessert. We do go out for ice cream. We don't keep ice cream in the house, for all of our sake. I do let her get candy from the grocery store sometimes. But we don't keep anything in the house that I'm not happy with her snacking on, so that most of what goes in her body is healthy. I don't mind if she has some garbage, but that works for us to make sure most of what she has is okay.
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#26 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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I think the crux of the problem is that I really don't feel comfortable managing what other people eat. I am very sensitive to eating what feels right to me, and will feel really ill if I eat something that is wrong for me at that moment, even if it's something I usually like.

I want to be able to let him lick the bowl, but not eat spoonfuls of sugar out of the box until he makes himself sick. I want to be able to let him get an ice cream cone after a baseball game, but then not beg me for more sugar 10 minutes later when we're in a grocery store. So this is why I have resisted any rules around food - treats only at this time, or only this amount per day. I have really wanted it to be a more fluid, natural thing.

We are not going to go zero sugar on the poor kid. Dh and I talked about it, and not only is it unrealistic, but it would be so sad for him. But I am going to have to face that I have to be more clear about setting boundaries for him, even though it's something I'm uncomfortable with.
Yup, I think your problem is you're caught between two values:

- healthy eating and
- not having rules

At this age (and btw I find this sugar fixation common at that age) the gap between your two values is really coming out. EITHER you have to trust your son that he will over time work it out for himself (and go through the period in between) OR you have to lay out some rules.

I hear your frustration with your kid but - he's 8. We're wired to like sweet things. Hoping that he won't ask for sugar after an ice cream is probably just not realistic -- yes there are kids like that, but yours isn't one of them by personality. It doesn't mean there's anything dramatically wrong with him, but it does means you sort of have to give up your dream (for a few months anyway) of the child who gets the one treat and skips off for the edaname into the sunset afterwards.

Personally I would go for some rules, but give him control within those rules. How're his math skills? One idea might be to talk to him about how much sugar is okay for a day (be reasonable so there's room for treats and your sort of usual food; bear in mind that he is growing and active) and then put in the time & effort to get sugar/serving and serving sizes for everything he normally eats. Then let him choose how he's going to spend the sugar points for the day. (ETA: As the parents then you and your DH have to kind of enforce it, at least the sugar you know about. But it gives you a tool that's very clear.)

I also agree it's not a wise idea to hand a kid who's having issues the whole bag of buns, but hindsight is 20-20.

Also, gently, I see a LOT of "rewarding with food" in your day. Some is not under your control (the coach's M&Ms) but some is (the hot chocolate, going to a restaurant for a celebration, possibly the hot cross buns). That might be something to think about how to manage differently. I was raised that wherever you go, you get a treat. Ballet class? Treat. Museum? Treat. Shopping? Treat. I have been trying to minimize that although I find it's almost impossible.

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#27 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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Why not let him eat sugar until he's sick?

You need to choose between having rules and letting him self regulate.

Since I know that my DD loves sugar and sweets and would eat them to the exclusion of healthy food, we've gone the rules route. But I have a close friend who's gone the route of letting her 4 kids (2 of whom crave sugar - or did) go the self regulation route. Her kids have made themselves sick on a few occasions. Her son who is now 12 will still not eat brownies after saving his allowance and buying his own bag of those really rich "Two Bite Brownies" at the store and eating the entire bag in one sitting. He got really sick and hasn't done anything like that since.
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#28 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, gently, I see a LOT of "rewarding with food" in your day. Some is not under your control (the coach's M&Ms) but some is (the hot chocolate, going to a restaurant for a celebration, possibly the hot cross buns). That might be something to think about how to manage differently. I was raised that wherever you go, you get a treat. Ballet class? Treat. Museum? Treat. Shopping? Treat. I have been trying to minimize that although I find it's almost impossible.
Well, we never reward with food. We sometimes get food when we're out that we would never have at home, but it's never a reward for "being good" or anything like that. The hot chocolate after swim practice is simply to warm up, and they sell it right there at the pool for that reason. I don't stop at Starbucks on the way home to get it. And the hot cross buns were bought for a lunch I had with a friend of mine, sans kids. They were actually meant to be left at her house.

But yes, I am guilty of special "treats" when we are out and about that we wouldn't normally have at home, and I have been trying to put a stop to it. There is a little convenience store right outside of his tap class, and he always wants to get something after tap. I used to say yes, thinking it could be a sometimes thing, but then he wanted it every single time, so we stopped. (It doesn't help that his cousin, who takes tap with him, is allowed to go in and get junk after every class.)

I guess we're going to have to go the rules route, although he is the type of kid that argues with me from every angle. No sugar out of the box, fine. What about if it spills on the counter, can I eat that? What about the little balls of powdered sugar left in the strainer when I am sifting? Why can I eat it if it's in the cookies but not plain? That kind of stuff makes me nuts.
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#29 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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Your son sounds "spirited" I work with those students and think my son is going to be one that always tries to stretch limits and test boundaries. In my work I accept it expect it and actually tell students those are good questions explain why and stay calm. So for instance the no pure sugar is because of what it does to insulin levels (explained on level) since eating it out of the box or spilled on the table is the same the answer is no. But it's okay mixed in with the protein of eggs maybe pb and st else like whole grains. Just remember his thinking outside the box will be an asset soon prob is now in other areas. Also you ate dealing with it nonstop if HS.
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#30 of 54 Old 03-28-2010, 02:46 PM
 
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Why can I eat it if it's in the cookies but not plain? That kind of stuff makes me nuts.

LOL, I can see why this would drive you crazy! Perhaps you could offer him a choice? Get him to calculate how much sugar is in each cookie (around 1 tsp I'm guessing) and then say he can either have the x number of spoons of sugar (equivalent to the no. of cookies you'd let him have) *or* that number of cookies.

I really do think this is a control thing and it's going to keep going and going until something happens.

Do you really think that if he was allowed free-er rein on his sugar consumption it would be ultimately detrimental to his health (aside from the initial sugar binges)?

Personally, I think some sugar every day is fine, but a limited amount. Do you have something sweet frequently? If so, then it's a good thing to be able to teach him moderation and I don't think this will be easily acheived wtih restriction.

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