Is your child constantly craving for sweets and chocolate?
Is your child begging you to buy him sweets at the supermarket?
Is your child eating sweets and hiding the wrapping under his bed?
If your child is constantly craving sugary foods, you might be worried. As a result, you might be experiencing fear or anxiety that your child is developing a sugar addiction. As a parent you might adopt statements like “eat less sweets”, “eat sweets in moderation” or “avoid all sweets.” In fact, some parents may fall into the “no sweets at all” removing any food that contains sugars from home, hoping to improve their child’s situation with sugary foods.
This scenario of food restriction, although done with good intentions, can cause your child to lose their sense of hunger and fullness. They may overeat when those limited foods become available. This may happen when children are away from the watchful eyes of mom and dad. For example, if your child slips into the kitchen when you go change out the laundry, this may be a sign of food sneaking. If you find hidden wrappers under the bed, this too, may be a concerning sign.
In addition, kids may become “obsessed” with the foods that are limited or forbidden.
Over time, feelings of deprivation may set in. Kids may feel left out or deprived when they don’t have the freedom to choose what or how much they want to eat. Like adults, kids want what they can’t or don’t have. In other words, if you take away the sweets your child cannot stop thinking about sweets! In my dietetic practice, I’ve seen the research evidence come true when restrictive eating is imposed on kids. Restrictive feeding promotes overeating.
Kids are naturally drawn to sweets, so it isn’t their fault if they like to eat them. It’s not your fault either. Don’t blame your child or yourself if his taste buds like sweets. You can offer sweets every day and it is ok. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests no more than 5% of daily total calories should come from added sugar. In other words, the WHO advises families to keep sweets to one or two items per day if the child is a healthy, normally growing, and active child.
In conclusion, it is best to accept it as a natural part of the childhood nutrition experience. As you might have noticed by now from my other blogs, I am totally against restriction in adults and this counts for toddlers and children as well.