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Egg-cellent Sugar Strategies for Kids

It’s April, and the Valentine’s Day candy stash is dwindling. Lucky Charms cereal is on sale post St. Patrick’s Day, and now, dozens of egg hunts are just around the corner, soon to fill kitchens with jellybeans and chocolate bunnies. Parents and caregivers can feel like, month after month, there’s just no break in sugar negotiations. We’re here to help. Here are some research-based suggestions from Harbin Clinic pediatricians on how to handle the holiday candy stash with your children.

Some nutrition best practices around sugar may surprise parents. Research suggests that when trying to raise intuitive eaters, children must learn to regulate their own eating. In other words, intense control over the sweets your children eat may backfire. Although it is well-known that significant amounts of sugar are not good for children, giving children opportunities to learn how different levels of sugar make their bodies feel is not always bad.

As you hop into the Easter egg hunts this month, consider adding these egg-cellent strategies to your holiday candy habits:

PLAN THE MENU TO INCLUDE BALANCED MEALS AND SNACKS:

Holidays can come with unusual schedules, but offering a routine without pressure can give children the opportunity to get the nutrition they need in a predictable rhythm. Then, children are not only eating sugary treats.

SET TIME FOR CHILDREN TO EXPLORE CANDY WITHOUT CONTROLLING IT:

Yes, we are suggesting you let your kids eat candy. It can be very tempting to allow one treat and hide the rest – out of sight, out of mind. But ultimately, if parents take away or police candy, it can create a preoccupation with sweets. Instead, allow children a set time to enjoy their stash like a snack. Offer a glass of water, sit at the table, and let them explore and try different treats. Do your best not to control the situation. Your children may eat too much candy while exploring, but they may also eat less than you imagine. Regardless of how they feel post “snack,” they are learning about the effects of sugar themselves.

Then, after this “free-for-all” moment, set up a clear structure for post-holiday leftovers. Choose an agreed-upon location for the candy and appropriate times to enjoy it. Establish boundaries and expectations rather than hiding them or secretly throwing them away.

ENJOY THE MOMENT WITH THEM:

We also encourage parents and caregivers to focus their mindset on desserts and sweets. Refrain from negative body language or facial expressions. Do your best not to project negative feelings onto the situation. Instead, if you are able, taste something yourself or ask about their favorite flavors. Research suggests a calm, positive food environment can create a more neutral attitude towards different food groups.

Peep these new sugar strategies for your spring celebrations for hoppier and healthier memories.

Published April 11, 2022