Candy Culture

When are my kids going to realize that I throw away their candy? Parents of older kids, what you do when your children start to realize when their precious candy goes missing? Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Easter my kids end up with bags full of processed junk that I don’t want them to eat.

My internal conflict

I feel guilty throwing out candy that someone else spent money on. But I am sure that I can’t keep it in the house because we will end up eating it. I could donate it, send it to a local school or to the US troops overseas. But really, I don’t want to supply candy to school children or soldiers because it’s not good for them either. Our country has a candy problem. Sugar is addictive, it’s literally killing us, and we need to eat less of it. All of us!

All or Nothing

It’s not that I don’t let my kids eat any candy. Usually on holidays they are allowed a few treats. Sometimes they can pick an additional item from the stash in the days following a holiday. That is usually it. The candy disappears and no one seems to miss it.

I don’t allow lollipops at the bank or the hair salon. Kids can be motivated without sugary treats. A special game or a stop at the park is a much healthier reward and equally motivating.

Health concerns

My older son suffers from eczema. I am confident that sugar is a trigger because his skin is the clearest when he is eating healthy. If sugar is toxic enough to his body that it causes a serious skin reaction, I imagine that it is also quite harmful to his insides. We have started to talk to our son about the consequences of his food choices. We remind him that choosing to eat a piece of candy is going to mean itchy and irritated skin later, and we can offer a healthier alternative. Sometimes he chooses to eat the candy anyway, after all it isn’t a choice he has often, but sometimes he chooses not to. This is a small victory, not because he is listening to his parents, but because he is learning that he has control over his body and his symptoms. 

Fighting the Candy Culture

Our candy culture relies on sugar for treats, bribery, and rewards. We need to challenge ourselves to choose non-food rewards or non-sugar options. Here are some of my favorites:

Healthy Desserts

  • Yogurt and raspberries
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Frozen berries or bananas
  • Dark chocolate

Non-Food

  • Trip to a favorite park
  • Board game with parents

Our candy culture is ingrained into every holiday celebration as well as daily activities for children. The bank, the hair salon, even the doctor’s offices offer lollipops for children! Choose intrinsic rewards whenever possible, and limit the sugar that is everywhere. Share your philosophy with grandparents and caregivers. You can easily win over a child without offering sweets!

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