I’m A Chocolate Addict And My Kid Keeps Catching Me Red-Handed
When my son was a baby, I used to be able to eat chocolate in front of him without him knowing or caring about what it was. Then, as he got a little older and started wanting to eat the same things as me, I was able to trick him, convincing him that his pumpernickel bread and my chocolate muffin (if there’s no icing, it’s a muffin) were the same thing. But now that he is a savvy two-year old, I am forced to sneak-eat.
For starters, I should explain that I am terribly, unquestionably, addicted to chocolate (though a very healthy eater otherwise, I swear). There is rarely a day that I haven’t eaten a chocolate bar – and often a Fudgesicle – before noon (we buy them by the case). But I want better for my children; the question is, how do I make that happen?
As I see it, there are three main approaches. There’s the “nature’s candy” approach, where parents give their children raisins and fruit leather (not even Fruit Roll-Ups, because apparently those aren’t dry or unappealing enough) and attempt to lead them to believe that these foods are actually the same, if not better than, the Wagon Wheels and Puff ‘o Fruit in their friends’ lunches. (This was my mother’s system, clearly it worked super well, given my very balanced approach to sweets as an adult). There’s the “junk-food-all-over-the-freaking-place” approach, where the parents leave junk food all over the freaking place so that it’s just another food and never becomes a big deal – though I’m not sure if this system is actually a strategy so much as a lifestyle choice, but I’ve chosen to include it just the same (and not just because it sounds delicious). And, finally, there’s the “ice cream is a sometimes food” approach – though whether you say the words or just adopt the idea is a personal choice.
So far I’ve been using a combined approach. While my two-year-old does truly believe that dates and raisins are candy (but he can no longer be fooled by pumpernickel bread), I have been known to share my chocolate bar with him after having been caught sneak-eating while crouching behind the kitchen counter. I try not to make a big deal about sweets, but I also wait till he’s asleep (or on the other side of the counter) to get my fix. I even use the line, “Chocolate is a sometimes food” with a straight face.
I did consult a dietician when my son was going through a particularly picky phase, who not surprisingly suggested that it makes more sense to allow some sweets and desserts as opposed to making candy the forbidden fruit. Hey, this makes me think that maybe we should forbid fruit so that kids will want it even more (please don’t respond to this in the comments section – I am joking). This theory really makes the most sense to me.
I don’t reward with sweets or use them as a source of comfort, and I am careful not to let my son fill up on empty (if delicious) calories, but the occasional treat is okay. Like with anything else, a balanced approach appears to be the best choice. Although my children have seen me indulging in ice cream and candy, they also see me eating fruit and vegetables with every meal. I don’t think that it’s necessary to regularly serve dessert after dinner, but today we got ice cream after we went apple picking and both the freshly-picked apples and cold, sweet ice cream were a yummy treat.
That said, if my children do end up being chocolate addicts, it might have nothing to do with the approach I’ve taken and everything to do with the fact that chocolate was the taste that they were most frequently exposed to in utero and through breast milk. There are some sacrifices I am just not willing to make.