Last week, Edith Flowers, one of the Mom in the City reviewers, was able to attend a “Live the Sweet Life!” event sponsored by SPLENDA Brand Sweetener. At the event, top parenting experts (including Tanya Zuckerbrot, Cathy Riva, Chef Laura Diaz Brown and Michele Borba) and celebrity mom (Melora Hardin of “The Office”) came together to discuss solutions to make moms’ lives “a little sweeter”. Below, is her recap…
On March 30, 2009, I had a great opportunity to be surrounded by a group of mom-panelists (pediatrician and parenting advisors, nutritionist, etc – all moms!) who provided expert advice, tips and knowledge. I left there feeling armed to face the challenges I have as a mom of two girls (3 and 5 years of age). Some of the things I learned and wanted to share are:
1. Nutrition is the #1 concern: 79% of moms find nutrition to be their #1 concern above anything else – including saving for college and life insurance.
2. Veggies: Kids usually acquire a taste for foods that they are constantly given. Even after many trials and refusals, keep giving kids the same vegetable for 2 weeks every day. They will (usually) latch on to it/acquire a taste for it.
3. Art of Replacement: If you take away unhealthy snacks or candy from your kids appease them by ALWAYS providing a replacement. For example, you can say something like “No cookie right now but how about this granola bar with great nuts and tasty fruits that will also make you strong and healthy?”
4. Wise Shopping: Let your kid(s) accompany you to go food shopping and have them pick some healthy foods. For example, if the kid can read, ask him to search for a cereal with (x) grams of fiber on the label. It is found that when the kid assists with choosing the food items, he is usually inclined to eat it when it’s brought home.
5. Rewarding/Treats: Don’t reward good behavior with sweets and cookies. Rather, use other incentives (i.e. stamps, a movie, etc.) When you award/reward with unhealthy foods it sends a message to the kid that he can gain happiness from eating candies and cookies. That has the potential to have him do the same when he is older. For example, the thought process will be “Today I am feeling sad, so I will just buy a bar of chocolate or a pint of ice-cream and then I’ll feel so much better”. Store up healthy treats that you know the kid likes and give those as treats rather than the sweets.
6. Don’t Be Too Rigid: When your kid goes to a party and picks up a candy to put in his mouth, don’t take it away or scold him – let him have one. It is just for that day. Experts have found that when you are too rigid with children and only allow them to eat healthy, they can become resentful and ‘pig out’ behind your back especially when they are with their friends. This may result in having them develop insecurities, deceit and lack of trust in your guidance – and even food disorders.
7: Halloween Tips: (These tips also work well for other candy-giving holidays i.e. EASTER!)
(a) Empty out the goody bag and have the kid choose 10 pieces that he likes. Then you (secretly) pull out a few of his favorite pieces and hide them in case he ever wants to have them again, you can pull it out from that secret spot. Either dump the rest or buy them from the kid (if he is older) and have him save the money to get something healthy for himself with the cash.
(b) Play ‘sorting’. Sit down and put all of the lollipops together, all of the gum together, etc. Then have the child pick 2-3 from each pile and dump the rest.
(c) Make rules. Kids can have only one per week, etc
(d) When kids drop by to trick or treat, you can give them other goodies instead of candy (i.e. pencils, note book, small toys, stickers, etc). Bring your kid(s) along when you shop for the items to give and have your kids focus on buying non candy items to give away.
(e) Use “out of sight out of mind”. Pull out a few that the child likes (have him choose) them keep the few picks on top of the refrigerator. Hide the rest (the majority). Eventually because the sweets are not in sight, the child usually forgets that they are there. Later (after a couple of months), simply throw the rest out.
8. Be Creative: Make your own ice cream and cookies –USE SPLENDA in it! Have your child choose their favorite fruit to add to the ice-cream and cookies and educate them on the nutritious value that fruit provides.
9. Praise a lot. When your child makes good food decisions say things like “well done”, “awesome”, “great job”, etc.
What I will always remember … and this is my #1 ‘take away’….
10. BUILD HEALTH AND CONFIDENCE: As I walked out of the building, what stuck with me the most was that when I have my children choose their healthy foods in the shopping aisle/when I reward their good behavior with healthy treats instead of candies/ when I train my children to think healthy and make them feel armed to choose healthy habits …I am not only making them healthy but I am building their CONFIDENCE! So if I practice some of these tips, I am preparing my children to avoid diseases and illnesses and preparing them to face the world as well rounded adults with the ability to make right decisions.
(On a side note, if you use SPLENDA, you can find their current promotions and get coupons for various Splenda products on this page.)