Friday, March 9, 2012

Get thee behind me Sweet Demons...

Ok, I admit it, I am CRAZY about what my kids eat.  We eat whole grains, minimally processed, fresh, and yes some might think strange foods.  The snacks my kids love are kale chips, popcorn with nutritional yeast and hummus with pita wedges.  Our pasta is brown, so is our rice.  Sometimes are eggs are green (kale or spinach) and our pancakes are often red (beet juice).  I think you get the picture.  We don’t have junk food, sugary snacks or candy, or I should say we did not have candy in the house until recently (I will not mention the times my husband would bring it into the house and I would throw it away).  Now we have it in the house all the time and before you cringe or cheer depending on your thoughts on the matter, let me tell you why.
My children have some CRAZY sweet teeth, sweet tooths, um…they like sugar a lot!  Although we did not have it in the house, whenever they saw candy at a store, cousin’s house, or their father’s car they would throw fits, beg, and even sneak with the goal of getting some into their mouths.  It was a major feat to get them to calm down without giving into them.  And the desire for sugar did not seem to diminish; the longer they were without it, the crazier they got for the stuff.
Driving to work one day I heard an interview on the radio from the author who wrote the book, Brining up Bebe, Pamela Druckerman*.  I did not hear the entire interview, but the small snippet that I heard spoke of the salvation that both I and my children were craving.  SWEETIE TIME.  Apparently every afternoon around 3pm, the French give their children small sweet snacks.  It is the only time of the day that their children get them, but it is every day without fail. 
I started to think about the concept.  It flew against everything that I had attempted with my children.  Limit or cut out sugary sweets.  Teach them it is bad for them.  Keep them safe from the evil sweets.  But the sugar demons had a hold of my children, and they were winning the fight for their attention and their sweet souls.  Could giving my children sweets, in small amounts, everyday, diminish their drive for sugar and send the candy demons away?
I was doubtful, but I tried it for a couple of weeks anyway.  Every day at 3pm, my children get SWEETIE TIME, a time when their SWEETIE CUPS get 5-6 m&ms or gummies, a small scoop of ice cream or a small portion of cup cake.  The keys were it needed to be EVERY DAY and had to be a LITTLE SWEETIE.  After 3 weeks all I can tell you is that SWEETIE TIME is pure magic.  My children are leaps and bounds better!  They are not frantic about sweets, probably because they know they will have a little every day.  They are calmer at stores when I explain that we can have some of “that” at SWEETIE TIME but not now.  And they even eat a much better dinner.  This last statement is hard to explain but somehow having a little sweet at 3 pm, gets their bodies ready for a good meal by six.
I would not say the sugar demons are completely gone.  I see them from time to time hanging out in the candy isle or chilling by the birthday cake at parties and I fully expect to see them dancing alongside the ice cream truck in another month as the weather gets warm.  But my children do not respond to them in the same way as before.  Who knew?  Fighting fire with fire, or in our case sugar with sugar does actually work!
*I have only just begun reading her book, and I am beginning to realize that SWEETIE TIME just might be my own bastardization of what the French do…I am not to that chapter yet and as I said, I only heard a snippet of the interview.