The dead of winter is the perfect time to sugar binge. Your immune system isn’t in peak condition due to reduced exercise, more carbs since nothing but root veggies are in season, less fresh air and less sun exposure. Cold weather slows down even the most active among us. What’s one more head cold this year or a kid up half the night with a stomachache? It’s a holiday, live a little! Society demands you be inconvenienced in the interest of someone else’s idea of fun. Oh, wait. It’s supposed to be about love and excitement. What could be more exciting than a head cold? Don’t we all love getting head colds or the flu from eating garbage?
Tomorrow is one of the two sugar-fueled holidays that hyper-focus on kiddie-drool-inducing sweets. There’s chocolate everywhere and if it doesn’t contain chocolate, it contains enough white sugar and artificial colors/flavors to make you queasy. There’s no winning. At least at Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are the family-favorite foods that children know they must consume before dessert. You can normally push a big meal at them at the family table so they’re full before the sugar hits their plate. ‘Here! Have another slice of turkey!’
Valentine’s Day holds no such promise. It’s a wall-to-wall carb fest. It’s fortunate that begging from door to door isn’t the custom for Valentine’s Day but rumor has it that many schools don’t miss it by much. I even saw one mom mention a pizza party in her child’s classroom before the chocolate-binge begins.
So, how to cope?
Recruiting other mothers to help cut down on the material available on which to binge can certainly help, but you can’t reach them all. ‘Oh, look! It’s a Valentine with a PENICL!’ might not thrill the kids in the same way it thrills your soul, but the four-foot set won’t rattle too many cages when it’s a portion of the booty instead of the sole content. Even if you can’t talk them into pencils or erasers instead of candy, at least you might have a chance of talking them into a generic piece of peppermint instead of the mini chocolate, nougat and caramel ‘Suckers’ bar.
Make sure your child is going to eat a very solid and modestly low-carb breakfast and lunch that day. Allow them to eat a few pieces at the party and pick out a few pieces for the next day or two. Then you have two options. The first is to offer a bounty- a nickel per piece, perhaps, to entice them to trade. The other option is to have a nice toy for which to trade away the rest of the candy. Most kids are willing to take the high-value object or the money in exchange for the candy.
Another option is to buy a package of yummy earth lollipops or gummy worms or another such treat and swap them. Three-for-one firesale, anyone? However, I don’t like to do this one because the kids seem to be more likely to remember that it is there and want to eat more of it than they would have of the original junk. If your child has a vampiresque taste for sugar, this one might backfire.
If all else fails and your wide-eyed sugar freak has suddenly become a rich hoarder, dole it out a few pieces per day and throw it out when they loose interest. One can hope, right? Most kids will loose interest or forget about it after a few days. The trick is to keep yourself out of it in the meantime.