I don’t know what happens at your house, but our kids bring home handfuls of candy on a daily basis! Where are they getting all this candy, you might ask? You probably already know because this may be your experience too!
They get chocolates for good achievement in school, lollipops at the bank, and various candy at church, and the free cookie at Kroger (I must admit we partake of these on occasion as fun little free “dates” with our kids). Oh, and don’t forget the cupcake piled 2 inches high with icing for Mary’s birthday and a take-home Goodie Bag to top it off!
It’s amazing how kids are so different. I have one child who could care less about the candy and one who asks for it 24-7 if she knows it’s there. I fight the urge to take it all and just dump it in the trash. (Note to self: Rash responses are not recommended if you are trying to actually teach your children how to make good choices for themselves!!).
The result of our sugar inundated children is this staggering statistic from a recent study: The average American consumes 53 tsp. of sugar a day!
All these little “extras” or treats my kids bring home daily don’t even account for the average American kids intake of soda, flavored beverages, fruit roll ups, sugar-filled Go-Gurts, and so many other sources where sugar is hidden.
Some of you may be thinking, “Come on. You can’t take all their candy away. And even if I wanted to, how could I actually pull it off?” None of us wants our kids to be the weird kid at school eating raisins while everyone else eats ice cream.
So while we don’t want to be extremists, I’m sure there are other mom’s out there (please let me know who you are so I don’t think I’m crazy!) 🙂 who are very concerned about the alarming amount of sugar our kids are offered daily (again, not to mention how much they ingest unknowingly from hidden sources). Maybe you are reading this and are wondering what the big deal about sugar is anyways. If that is you, read this to see 146 Reasons why sugar is ruining your health.
Our Solution to the Candy Craze
Our goal in coming up with a solution to the massive amounts of candy trickling through my kids fingers every day was to involve them in the process. We really wanted them to own this, rather than it being mom and dad on an angry tirade taking all their candy, and for some (i.e. our 5 year old) their happiness, away.
We sat our kids down at the table for a big family discussion after we had them find every piece of candy in the house. We firmly believe in educating and equipping our kids so that one day, when we are not around, they can make their own choices based on their knowledge and understanding. Our pile was high on the kitchen table (yes, we still have Halloween candy!).
We asked the kids if the candy looked good to them. The wide eyes and saliva dripping down their chins was answer enough. Then we began to discuss the all-too familiar story of Adam and Eve. We asked the children if they thought the fruit looked yummy or if it was rotten and yucky. Of course they answered that it probably looked delicious. Genesis tells us that Eve took the fruit because it looked good to eat. But, we asked, just because it looked good, was it good for her and why? Our oldest immediately answered, “No! It looked good but it was bad for her…it brought death and sadness and pain.”
So just because something looks good, it doesn’t mean it is good or that it will be life producing. So that’s where the choice comes in:
They could either keep all this candy, that looks good but will hurt their bodies and not promote life and strength, OR they could give me all their candy and we would take them on a trip to get special candy that wouldn’t be as harmful to their bodies. Furthermore, in the future, when they get candy at church or school, if they were willing to bring it home and trade it in, they could pick something from our new candy jars.
So they decided this sounded like a really good deal. They picked out one last thing from their bad candy pile as they said good-bye to it (and yes, at this point, we did throw it all away…but it was their choice, not ours!).
Then we loaded up and headed over to Whole Foods to pick out some new treats. They were so excited, running from one bin to the next, reading ingredients, etc. They knew to look for things that didn’t say “Sugar” because that is what we just got rid of. Here are some of their treasures.
Our Candy Swap Adventure Treasures:
- Chocolate Covered Pretzels
- Yogurt Covered Pretzels
- Sun-Drops (like M & Ms)
- Organic Animal Cookies
- 100% Whole Fruit, Fruit Roll-Ups (Costco carries large boxes!)
- Organic Gummy Bears
- Organic Lolli-Pops
- Cranberries (Unsulphered and sweetened w/ cane juice)
- Chopped Dates
- Put these treats in glass jars or clear plastic containers where they can see them and be excited knowing that they made a good choice and that their are still treats in the house (not in the garbage!).
- Make sure it’s their choice
- Guide them in choosing better alternatives
- Help them learn to read labels and point out the “why.” This is a huge part of equipping them to be healthy, competent adults one day
- Make it fun! We had a blast on our Candy Swap Adventure!
- Never shame or condemn your child into making a choice that you think is better. Figure out a way to ask questions and give choices that will prompt them into the right direction.
- Save the larger items (fruit roll-ups) for big rewards
- We don’t use things like fruit roll-ups or cookies in their every day diet. We tend to opt for the fresh fruit, this way the fruit roll-ups and cookies are a treat (not an every day staple that they EXPECT). If you pull out all your “big guns” every day, it leaves you with nothing to use for special occasions, rewards, or treats.
- Not many kids will say no to a chance to go pick out more candy!
Please feel free to post your comments below if you have thoughts, tips, or other yummy but healthier treats you would add to this list! We can all learn from others’ experiences so please share!