Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Much Sugar Do You Let Your Kids Eat?

As I sit here eating a cookie I'm reflecting on the events of this weekend.  We there was a Candyland themed little girl slumber party at a friend's house.  I'm not really keen on sleepovers and my girls are pretty little so I was thrilled when CookieCookie asked me to come along.  BonBon would never have stayed the night if I hadn't also been there.  It worked out well because I could keep an eye on BonBon and CookieCookie and help out our gracious host.

As soon as we arrived, at about 6 PM on Friday, they broke out the cupcakes.  Loaded with frosting and sprinkles the girls eagerly dug in.  I was a little ashamed that I hadn't yet fed my babies real food, but I didn't want to ruin their fun.  We did get pizza later, but there was not a vegetable or piece of fruit in sight.  The rest of the evening was cookies, chips, popcorn and more cupcakes until 1 a.m.   I thought I might be sick.  Actually, the next two days were kind of rough because my gut is not used to that much refined flour and pure unadulterated sugar on no sleep.

I was really concerned about BonBon and CookieCookie.  Cookie seemed to do alright, but Saturday morning BonBon was a bear.  No one could hold her but me.  I couldn't go to the bathroom or load anything in the car without her having a total melt down.  Breakfast was freezer pancakes with syrup which we took charge of doling out.  If I had known I would have brought bacon and eggs to give the girls a little bit of protein. Then we had more chips, popcorn, cookies and cupcakes because we were hungry and that is what we were offered.  The whole time I did not complain or deny my girls anything.  Really, how often do they indulge - NEVER.  Well, almost never :).

As soon as we got home Saturday afternoon we got out some salad and grilled chicken with bleu cheese for lunch.  Cookie and I split it very happily.  It was kind of funny, on the way home she said, "As soon as we get home we need to load up on fruits and veggies cuz we didn't get any last night or this morning."  Bonbon didn't say a word because we were barely a mile down the road and she was already asleep.  She slept for the next 5 hours.

The experience left me even less thrilled about the concept of a girl party or slumber party at someone else's house.  The last girl party there was they had fruits and veggies as snacks which was great.  The host even baked some little pigs in a blanket in addition to the cake, cookies and punch.  That was nice, because it wasn't sugar overkill.  It did make me reflect on how much sugar I feed my kids on average.

I do worry about giving them too much because there is an inherited disposition for diabetes on one side of the family and an adrenal condition that makes eating sugar impossible from the other side of the family.  I tread a very fine line.  Neither of them have shown any signs or symptoms in either direction, but I don't want to push them to the brink.  I try really hard to keep their diet balanced with lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  It makes me proud and happy to hear them requesting things like carrots, avocados, apples and strawberries, saying yum to lemongrass, mint, parsley, oregano and stevia and craving beef or shrimp or turning down cake, cookies, ice cream and candy.

I want them to grow up with a more balanced view of eating sweets than I did.  As much as my mother tried to keep me eating healthy, my father turned me into his junk food buddy.  My sweet tooth turned into a monster that tormented me through my teen years and still makes it difficult to lose weight and practice self control.  Now I have to keep sweets out of the house for fear that I will eat them all.  Having children really is a practice in self control because you have to exhibit the behavior you want them to learn.

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