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How to encourage children not to over-indulge in sweets….. Advice sought!

(24 Posts)
NotdeadyetBOING Fri 29-Jul-16 13:10:41

We eat healthily at home so DCs know what good nutrition looks like. However, we are really struggling with the amount of sweets they eat whenever they are in striking distance of them. SO many more than either DH or I had as children and just hugely unhealthy. Particularly hard to do much about DS as he is at secondary school now so can buy whatever rubbish he wants in whatever quantities he wants. DH is all for being super hard core and threatening to stop pocket money unless they stop it, but my sense is that could end up backfiring massively and sending things underground. I want to try to get them onside as, ultimately, it will be their decision what they put in their mouths. DS in particular is always saying that 'most people' eat far more sweets than him. Which may be true - but then look at the obesity crisis in our country - not exactly something to aspire to. Keen for any advice on how to handle this . Clearly don't want to make anyone neurotic about food either. GAH!

And should say - am not fascistic about this stuff. When we have Sunday lunch the Haagen Das comes out etc. Just about balance…..

uhoh2016 Fri 29-Jul-16 13:56:34

If you are quite strict about the amount of sweets they have at home and are constantly reinforcing how bad/unhealthy they are then I'd say it's no wonder they go to the extreme when using their own money or have the opportunity to have sweets. It could be a case of "forbidden fruit" theory or they could simply be trying to have as many sweets as they can when the opportunity arises knowing it could be a while before they are allowed them again.

I have sweet treats accessible at all times just like I do with yoghurt or fruit. They make their own choices what to have, I don't make too big of an issue about unhealthy/bad foods fortunately it tends to be a 50/50 split on what they choose to snack on. They are very very active so burn a lot off and teeth brushing is strictly twice a day.

chocomochi Fri 29-Jul-16 14:01:58

Agree with uhoh2016. If you are strict and totally ban them at home, it makes sweets and treats more desirable when they are out. We always have a fruit snack in the morning and fruit plus a biscuit/chocolate in the afternoon. And they are allowed to have a sweet treat from their Halloween bucket (from last year which they've added party sweets to). Don't get me wrong - they love sweet things but everything in moderation.

NotdeadyetBOING Fri 29-Jul-16 15:26:26

Hmmm. Sorry, maybe I wasn't that clear. I haven't been uber strict and they haven't been totally banned at home. But it hasn't resulted in them self-moderating. I know there is the whole Susie Orbach theory of leaving bowls of sweets around everywhere and children naturally choosing fruit after a while, but it does NOT work in our house. To be honest, I'm not sure it would work in many houses - even with adults.

lljkk Sun 31-Jul-16 10:39:08

Mine only get pocket money once every 2 months, and I try to encourage them to spend it all on "big ticket" items rather than a daily fritter on junk food. This has some success.

minipie Mon 01-Aug-16 11:33:50

Personally I don't agree with the "forbidden fruit" theory, I was not allowed much sweet stuff or junk as a child and it hasn't led to me gorging on it now I'm an adult. In fact the opposite, I don't have a sweet tooth at all and am grateful to my mum for having been (fairly) strict.

Tricky to know what to suggest. How are your DC buying the sweets if they are in school all day? Are they allowed out at lunch? Or is it on the way home?

Ni58 Mon 01-Aug-16 12:07:44

I've made a conscious decision to always have sweets in the house and available to my DS. Sweets were a rarity during my childhood and IMO it led to unhealthy habits and relationships with food for me and my siblings. So far, it works for us. Sweets aren't seen as a reward and she doesn't seem to be that bothered about them. She usually chooses to just have one or two. We enforce is a good routine for dental care and if she moans about it, I google images of bad teeth! I might turn out to have done it all wrong, but I hope I'm helping her to avoid developing the psychological issues associated with food that so many teens and adults suffer with.

NotdeadyetBOING Mon 01-Aug-16 22:55:59

Ni58 - I like your idea in theory (and also am very conscious of the risks of loading food with all sorts of issues and associations). BUT…. if we have sweet stuff available my kids - especially daughter - really goes overboard and always has. My childhood was more like minipie and, like her, didn't result in me developing any weird cravings or obsession with sweets. I am nearly 50 and still don't have a filling which isn't a brag ,but I suspect has something to do with not having got overly used to sweets and biscuits as part of every day life.

Easier to restrict DD's consumption as she is still at primary school, although increasingly difficult when she says she should be allowed to spend her pocket money on what she wants…. V. tough with DS as he is now at secondary school so can do what he likes. We have had lots of chats about it, but I keep finding sweet wrappers in drawers and pockets so I am pretty sure he is lying to me about how many sweets he is eating.

PassiveAgressiveQueen Mon 01-Aug-16 23:06:58

I have a very sweet tooth, i was raised in a strict house, i learnt to eat sugar by the spoonful to get it, learnt to cook just so i could have cake (ok one good side effect.) am 40+ nothing has changed, i still eat sugar cubes if waiting too long in cafes etc.

My sister doesn't give a hoot about sweets, same upbringing same house, same mother.

I am a bit fatalist about this subject sorry.

ThatsWotSheSaid Mon 01-Aug-16 23:22:43

My first born would eat nothing but sugar if given the option and my second isn't that bothered. I think often parents who have restricted or offered sweets freely believe their actions have influenced their children's taste but I'm not convinced. Some have sweet tooths some don't IMO.

SueTrinder Mon 01-Aug-16 23:28:51

I think it's better to restrict at home, it's certainly the only way I can restrict my own intake and I can't see how it's any different for the kids. I grew up with lots of sweets available and have a mouthful of fillings so I don't believe in the self-regulation theory, I think all the evidence suggest the more sweets are available the more people eat.

I'm quite hardcore and tell the kids if they eat too many sweets and drink lots of fizzy drinks they'll end up with black teeth and horrendous dentist bills like me and their Dad. Sweets that come home are only allowed as part of a meal, DD1 hid some of the Halloween stash in her bedroom and ate them after she'd gone to bed so the rest were thrown out. I really hate that people dish out sweets to kids so much, there's no value in them at all, I'd rather they got a nice well made cake at a birthday party than a bagful of sweets, that's more of a real treat IMHO.

TBH if you restrict at home and make sure your DC brush their teeth twice a day and emphasise healthy eating then I wouldn't worry too much about what happens out of the house. If your son is only rebelling by eating sweets that's a good thing. But make the house rules clear: e.g. no sweets in the bedroom and only eaten at the end of a meal.

youngestisapsycho Mon 01-Aug-16 23:33:44

My DD has been in secondary school for 3 years now.... I send her in with a packed lunch. She is not allowed money at school cos she just used to buy shit all the time. I could see everything she was buying on the school account payment system. She was given plenty of chances, but failed! So, packed lunch only and no money. I don't stop her having stuff at home, and she is always buying sweets in Poundland! I just want her to be eating more nutritious food during her school day.

georgetteheyersbonnet Mon 01-Aug-16 23:44:42

I also don't buy the "restrict and then they'll go crazy as adults" theory. It was the opposite in my family. I was not allowed much sweet stuff at all as a child (including pop), and never really developed a sweet tooth. I also had an aversion to fizzy drinks as I'd never really been allowed them (they are actually pretty grim-tasting if you're not used to them). I did eat chocolate and junk food a bit more often as a teenager (school tuck shop), but as an adult I have pretty much no sweet tooth at all. I could count the number of chocolate bars I've eaten since the age of 18 on the fingers of both hands (and I'm 36....)

Despite not allowing chocolate bars or sweets my parents always had biscuits in the house (and later sugary cereals for my younger siblings), but for some reason I just never got into eating them. Still rarely if ever eat a sweet biscuit; perhaps a couple of times a year at work. Don't snack much. The only time I have ever had sugar cravings was just after DD and at the start of breastfeeding, when I suddenly began to crave sugar in tea for the first time ever!

My youngest sister however was allowed unrestricted sugar, fizzy pop, biscuits, sweets etc. (parents couldn't be bothered by then), and she is a sugar fiend. She also allows her children unlimited access to sweets and they are constantly munching on something sweet.

(I should add that I am at the moment overweight and am no food saint: I love my crisps.... grin Can't have everything in life ;))

Your son may well be indulging because he's a teen and there's a lot of peer pressure to each sweets and choc while the others are doing it. That doesn't necessarily mean he will carry on doing so as an adult.

Ni58 Tue 02-Aug-16 01:09:35

Are we literally just talking about sweets, or are we talking about all 'treat' foods (sweet and savoury)?
My childhood experience was that all these types of food were a rarity. They were stocking fillers on Christmas Day and devoured before Christmas Lunch! I longed for a packed lunch box with half a resemblance to that of my peers!
I understand what my mum was trying to do, and in some respects, it worked (no cavity fillings, etc). However, I know that all of us have gone on to have very dysfunctional relationships with food in our adult lives.
My response is the polar opposite - time will tell whether it works or not. I really hope it does.

Ni58 Tue 02-Aug-16 01:22:24

We're not up to the pocket money stage yet so I don't know, but maybe buying food with a finite amount of given money makes the sweets more appealing?
If they knew they'd be getting some anyway, maybe there wouldn't be a need to buy and eat in secret? That way, they might save and spend pocket money more productively.
My little one doesn't have any siblings, so she kind of trusts that she can take or leave the things she chooses as her 'treats' because she knows they'll still be there another time. That's something I hadn't considered when I first posted. When I was growing up, you had to hide your stuff!
It's tricky!!

uhoh2016 Tue 02-Aug-16 06:42:09

I think it's dependant on the child/person aswell, as I said in PP I have biscuits sweets in all the time. Ds1 and dh tend to eat most of them myself and ds2 don't really bother. Ds2 is 6 and not impressed by sweets at all he prefers savoury things like me.
I used to give them the boxes of raisins when they were little thinking it was a healthy snack until the dentist told me they are 1 of the worst things for causing tooth decay.

minipie Tue 02-Aug-16 11:26:19

Sorry to be thick, but I still don't understand how your secondary school DS is getting hold of the sweets if he is at school all day.

Are the sweets on sale at school? (If so I am shock, I would have thought schools would be more responsible, perhaps I am naive)

If so then I guess all you could do is what youngest says and send him with a packed lunch and no money. Bit difficult if all his mates are buying it though. I would lobby the school to stop selling crap but that is going to be unpopular

minipie Tue 02-Aug-16 11:27:40

uhoh yes dried fruit is bad for teeth, however it does have a lot of good nutritional value (minerals, vitamins, fibre) so I still allow it but am careful about tooth brushing. Haribo and other sweeties on the other hand have no nutrients whatsoever.

Peppapogstillonaloop Tue 02-Aug-16 11:32:07

I have a Hugely sweet tooth and would really struggle with bowls of sweets being around the house. It's a tough one as i think everybody responds to sugary things in different ways and for some it's a lot more addictive than others.
Don't have any hugely helpful suggestions but am wondering what is your primary concern? Weight gain, teeth or general health?

PassiveAgressiveQueen Tue 02-Aug-16 14:06:26

The secondary schools in our area all empty at lunchtime

minipie Tue 02-Aug-16 14:24:00

Thanks Passive. At my school no one was allowed out at lunch. Do they get parents' permission before allowing children out at lunch? I'd be a bit annoyed if I had an 11 year old and they were allowed to just wander in and out of school at lunch with no one checking where they were going.

PassiveAgressiveQueen Tue 02-Aug-16 15:07:40

No Idea really,you just see them all round town whilst trying to buy your lunch

NotdeadyetBOING Tue 02-Aug-16 21:39:33

DS takes the bus to school on his own. So can stop off at any newsagent on the way home. They all do it from what I can gather.

trixymalixy Tue 02-Aug-16 21:48:23

I was offered unlimited sweets as a child. I used to turn them down.

My kids are the same. I have to throw out Easter eggs etc. We have two big jars of sweets and they barely touch them.

My friends wee girl is allowed no sugar at all including fruit. While she was staying at another friends house she got up on the middle of the night and ate the entire fruit bowl. She makes herself sick at parties.

I'm happy with our approach to sugar.

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