It’s been four whole days since Halloween. My children have managed to both eat way too much sugar, and live to tell about it. Neither went into any kind of Halloween induced diabetic coma, nor have they renounced protein in order to become a sugartarian. In fact both kids seemed to forget about their candy bags within a few days. They had their fill and simply stopped wanting more.
I thought of this as I read an article in which Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen confessed that she gave her kids' Halloween candy away. She said, “We don’t really have that a kind of sugar in our house. I let them try one (piece), but they really only had one bite and then they didn’t want it anymore.”
On one hand, it’s amazing. Gisele’s kids don’t eat sugar. That’s one less battle she and Tom as parents have to battle with their kids. Gisele’s kids are probably better off than the rest of ours. Or, not.
It’s not about dog piling on Gisele, or her seemingly perfect life. Every parent makes their own choices about how they run their household, and Gisele and Tom have clearly made choices with theirs. But when we “normal” parents read quotes like Gisele’s, it inspires in us a feeling of failure. No matter how much we say “to each her own,” we secretly think, “Gisele’s kids don’t have sugar. She’s doing a better job than me.”
I’m here to tell you she’s not.
I grew up thinking that people who ate candy and treats were bad as well.
Me personally, I grew up in a no sugar household. We were the kids who had one piece of our Halloween candy before the rest was tossed in the trash. We could have one bowl of sugar cereal per month. I never had a cavity until I got one as an adult, and I secretly see the fact that I actually have one cavity as a major personal failure. I grew up thinking dessert was bad, as was sugar. And I grew up thinking that people who ate candy and treats were bad as well. I grew up fearing sweets, and food in general.
But left to my own devices as an adult, I had no idea how to make proper food choices because I had never been taught how to make proper food choices as a kid. I was raised with food in the extreme. Food was either good, or bad. It wasn’t what it was, food. Simple as that.
Part of our job as parents is teach our kids how to do things. That includes teaching them how to eat and make healthy choices with food, which includes sugar. When we cut out an entire food group from their lives, barring allergies or religious restrictions, we are missing an opportunity to teach our kids how to have a healthy relationship with sugar, treats and food in general.
So as much as I don’t want my kids to eat tons of sugar, I actually want them to have a little. I want them to enjoy Halloween. I want them to enjoy a treat every now and then and not feel badly about themselves, or that they have somehow failed or eaten something bad. I want them to learn to eat anything they like in moderation and not think of food in the extreme. And then hopefully they’ll grow up to be adults who enjoy food, not fear it.