As Halloween was approaching I felt the need to once again post my thoughts about children and candy, based on and reinforced by Ellyn Satter whom I had the privilege of meeting while attending her workshop when employed at a health unit several years ago. Not only was I able to receive her excellent training and teach it to others, but also apply it to our own children, as early as infancy. If you have, want to have, or are involved in caring for children, I highly recommend a visit to her website. I posted the article “Why you should let your kids eat all the Halloween candy they want” on Facebook and retweeted fellow dietitian Abby Langer’s, “Clean candy should not exist. It’s candy, people. Live a little.” No doubt it resulted in several likes and reposts and generated a good discussion amongst parents struggling to find the best approach to the mounds of candy and chips taking over counters and dining room tables. We’ve been at the trick or treating for a few years now so let me highlight some key points that may assist in tackling this area:
- Allow your children to learn how to manage their candy
- Keep your involvement to a minimum
- Let them lay it out, sort it, trade it, smell it, touch it, and eat as much as they want for the first few nights
- Then put it away, setting it aside to be consumed with meals and snacks
- Offer milk or fruit with the 2 or 3 candy pieces they choose as an after-school snack
- Keep structure with meals and sit-down snacks; parents decide the what, when and where, and children choose how much and whether
- Avoid shaming children and labelling candy as “bad” or forbidden
- Stay away from micromanaging and controlling; it will only backfire
- Sugar does not cause hyperactivity…children are already excited at the birthday party long before the cake and ice cream is served.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly when it comes to so many areas with parenting, lead by example. This not only applies to candy consumption—by letting your children see you enjoy an abundance for the first few days then eating less as the novelty wears off, but also to physical activity. These are the things that will shape your children’s relationship to their diet and health.
Since withdrawing from my favourite marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) I have successfully given myself enough to do to keep busy, contribute more financially to our family, and use that extra energy not spent logging kilometres on the road. I am back to a balanced off-season routine with some time in the pool, weight room, and on the trails. I was hoping I would be able to make good use of the trails as the leaves change colour, and before they are snow-covered and unaccessible over the winter. They really are my favourite for the varied surface and pleasurable views.
In mid-October I attended our school’s cross country meet as coach. It was so rewarding to see the children running with smiles on their faces and proud of their effort and accomplishments after crossing the line. I made it a particularly fun day for myself by hopping into the senior boys’ and girls’ 2.5 km races as a rabbit. They sure do start out quickly! In addition to coaching the cross country team, I volunteered as trainer/coach for my daughter’s hockey team. Several hours were spent fulfilling the necessary requirements to become certified for the hockey association; a police check, trainers course, and respect in sport course certainly reinforced the seriousness and responsibility of leading children in sports and being a good role model.
I’ve enjoyed several opportunities to expand my repertoire by delivering messages to various organizations and assisting with event promotion. Speaking about Mental Performance at the Black Toe Running Store was especially engaging as runners picked my brain about how to be their best for their upcoming STWM, where I would be involved as member of the broadcast team.
My career as Registered Dietitian has been moved from back burner to the front as I’ve re-started some private practice work, registered for the Dietitian of Canada Intensive Sport Nutrition Course, and recently started implementing a “Healthy You” program with fellow marathoner runner, friend, and dietitian Megan Kuikman. I’ve quite enjoyed assisting people in learning ways to better their health through more mindful food choices, physical activity and feeling good about themselves. Lately we’ve been discussing the benefits of avoiding food rules and regulations, and labelling food and days as “good” or “bad.” We’ve covered listening to our hunger and fullness queues, and making small but permanent changes while releasing the diet mentality. We read a quote from Ellyn Satter about “Normal Eating”, which resonated with our group and created great discussion.
In addition, I explained Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in feeding children as many adults benefit in looking back to their early years in order to be successful in moving forward with their eating competence, particularly when it comes to their weight.
It’s a new time for me, as I’m sure it’s a new time for many of you. With the weather getting colder and the new year approaching, we all have our goals and habits we wish to follow, both in ourselves and in our loved ones.