Sweets and Treats!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I am cool with Valentine’s Day.  It is fun and sweet and all that stuff.  But I am really into Galentine’s Day.  February 13th.  Ladies celebrating Ladies.  That is where it’s at.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti Valentine’s Day.  I love the love, the flowers, THE CANDY.  I love candy.  I love chocolates.  Let’s be honest here…I love sweets.  We all do.  If you are about to say you don’t, I think you are a liar. Because everyone loves sweets.  Especially kids.

I am cool with giving my kids sweets.  They are often found enjoying a cookie or a brownie.  I don’t believe in withholding something so amazing from them.  It’s just not humane if you ask me.  BUT I do believe in not offering them sweets until the end of the meal.  Because I am a feeding therapist, and it is what we do.

When I make food plans for my patients, I always save the sweets for the end.  And not just the chocolates and cupcakes, but the strawberries and yogurt too.  People often think I am doing this because it is considered dessert and the child should eat everything before they are offered dessert.  But then they watch as their child refuses to eat anything I offer, and *gasp* I still give them the cupcake.  The horror.

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A little milk and cookie to top off dinner at Grandma’s

Here is the thing.  Actually, two things.  First, sweets are saved for dessert for a reason.  If we ate dessert first we would feel very full before we got to the main course.  This isn’t just because of the caloric intake, it is also because of the message sweets send to our brain.  Sweets send a signal to our brain, making us think our stomach is full.  Cool, huh?  Kind of.  Because it only makes us feel that way for a little while, and then we feel hungry again.  Bummer.

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Gus and his shark buddy enjoying a little treat, under our table of course

So, we should just not offer sweets, right?  Wrong.  Withholding sweets makes binge sweet eaters.  When our children aren’t familiar with sweets, they tend to overload on them.  And when we use them as rewards, children automatically think they are having to do something horrible to earn this intangible golden cookie…you know like eat broccoli or walk on hot coals.  Saying “Take five bites and you can have a cookie” translates as “This is going to be horrible, do it, and I will reward you” to a toddler.

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A feast of animal cookies after lunch

When planning a meal, wait to offer sweets at the end.  Not just because it is dessert, but also because sweets make us feel full.   So, store that Valentine’s Day candy away.  Offer it at the end of meals, and then sneak the good stuff for yourself.

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