I appreciate everyone's efforts to be the best parents possible, and it can be unbelievably frustrating when our kids thwart our best attempts to give to them and do for them what we know is best, right?!
I remember those days when my kids went from one birthday party to the next, eating what seemed like nothing but cake and ice cream. I also saw the parents who would try to get their kids to not eat the cake, even forbidding it due to the sugar overload for that particular day.
Each parent has their own rules about sugar and I respect everyone to find their own way.
What I will say however, is that if you create too much restriction and are too "sugar phobic," you run the risk of creating disordered eating patterns down the road, as your children will be drawn to sneak treats from their friends' lunch boxes or seek them out when they are away from you, unable to move on from said treat or snack at the moment. (This is an outcome I have seen at my house with kids on playdates, and worked with in my practice, btw.)
So most importantly, I don't want you to overly worry if your kids go from one piece of cake to the next on one particular birthday party-laden day!
More often than not, their own tastes and body needs win; they don't end up wanting dessert after dinner, or they are certainly reasonable and don't demand it if you point out that they've had plenty of treats that day.
If they don't, however, and they are constantly demanding sugar, you can find ways where they have the amount of sugar you are comfortable with for the day or week, and then give them some leeway to decide when they are eating it.
Partly because of my work with eating disorders and my own journey coming from a dieting and dancing background and curing myself of the ups and downs of on/off eating, I took a lot of risks with my kids around sugar. When my 2-year-old asked for one lollipop after another, I gave her the whole bag, which she dropped, looked at the lollipops strewn about the floor, exclaimed, "Oh my, oh my!" then was off to her next activity.
This approach worked less well with my second daughter, who would love the taste of any food so much that she wouldn't take a breath between helpings, and needed to learn to wait longer for the signal to hit her brain that she was DONE. I introduced a waiting game, helping her to become THE BEST BODY DETECTIVE possible. I say to the Food or Sugar Demander kids something like this: "All bodies are different and you are the expert on your own, but you may need to wait a little longer for the voice to be louder from your tummy to your head of how exactly your tummy is feeling and what it needs/wants. " Do something with them, let them know they can check back in with their body and what their stomach is telling their brain in 20 minutes. Clear the table, play a game, let them do an activity they want.
This "Waiting Game," as I like to call it, helps to flip the "Off Switch." Nine times out of 10, kids are off and running and when they check in, or even forget to check in, it is because the taste bud excitement has died down, they get a more accurate reading and they don't need any more food. If they do want more, let them eat more. Then again, do the Waiting Game. Get them to listen and keep checking in. Or you can say that they can always have more tomorrow.
So a few tips to try, but by all means, "Let Them Eat Cake!"
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