I have a confession to make: I eat all my kids' candy. Okay, maybe not all of it, but as much as I can get away with. I sneak late-night cookies and hide myself in the kitchen to inhale cake and ice cream. Why? Because people shouldn't eat sugar .
I know that makes no sense, so let me explain. I am a serious sugar fiend. I've been known to send my husband to the grocery store for birthday cake, when no one I know is having a birthday. In college, I would put a key lime pie in my little dorm fridge and leave a fork in the pie tin because, let's be honest, I would eat it all day long. When I'm not eating sugar, I'm eating pasta. And pasta, it turns out, is also sugar. I have a problem.
But it's not my craving for sugar that causes me to dig into the kids' Halloween candy. It's not that I have no self-control. It's that, on some level, I feel I'm beyond saving. The more of their candy I consume, the less they consume. (Yes, I realize that I could just throw sugar away. It just feels wrong.)
It is impossible for me to un–taste key lime pie and Father's Day chocolate cake. Watermelon and strawberries will never again be the sweetest thing I've ever tasted. But for my kids, who are still developing their tastes and defining their preferences, the appeal of artificial and sugary foods is not quite as strong. I'm fairly certain my five-year-old son would choose strawberries over a candy bar.
Why would I purposely expose my child to something that has been shown to be as addictive as cocaine?
But why is it even a big deal? Am I just being super mean? I'm sure some people think so. Isn't letting children partake in sweets part of the good and fun stuff we get to do as parents? While I believe that it is important for us as parents to help our children discover new and exciting things, I don't believe sugar should be among them. Why would I purposely expose my child to something that has been shown to be as addictive as cocaine? Why would I encourage my child to fill up on something that has absolutely no nutritional value?
In our house, there is food, and there is sugar. My five-year-old knows the difference. He understands that sugar is a "sometimes" treat, and is not a daily guarantee. He understands that some food colorings make it difficult for him to focus. And sometimes, if we are having a rough day, he can track his difficulties with listening back to something he's eaten earlier in the day. (Of course this doesn't give him a pass to misbehave, but it's a helpful skill to know when foods cause us to feel badly.)
Keeping your child from eating candy and sugar is not sad, or unfortunate, or mean. Sugar is a drug. I'm sure that there would come a day in my child's life when he would probably enjoy meth also. That doesn't mean that it's my job to give it to him. It's my job to help him learn to make good decisions for his body, mind, and spirit. Sugar is not one of them.