Most parents are worried about how to manage their child’s chocolate consumption at Easter. They know their kids LOVE chocolate and they just don’t know what to say about how much they can have.
Why are we worried?
Often parents are worried that their child will want to eat TOO MUCH chocolate (or sugar). This is the case for many adults these days. We assume that everyone will eat too much chocolate if they’re allowed to have as much as they want, but in fact, the opposite is true. People actually binge on chocolate as a result of losing touch with what their body is telling them.
Instead, we want our kids to be able to listen to what their tummy says. This is controversial, but I actually want them to eat as much chocolate as they like! Why? Because we can help them much more in the long term by teaching them to listen to their bodies, than we can by restricting how much they eat at Easter. We want them to learn that chocolate is just food, and they can eat chocolate without becoming obsessed with it.
So tell me how!
The key is to have these foods as part of a child’s normal diet, but within the structure of regular meals. Kids who have regular access to all foods (but not constant access) can choose to eat as much as they feel like and stop when they’ve had enough. THIS is the holy grail of intuitive eating.
So here’s my top three tips for managing this sticky (literally) issue. These are inspired by the wonderful work done by the Ellyn Satter Institute.
TOP THREE TIPS
On the day- relax! Easter Sunday comes once a year. If you have an Easter Egg hunt in your garden then make sure everyone enjoys it! Leave a carrot out for the Easter Bunny (there’s a chance for your kids to interact with a vegetable!). Let them eat as much chocolate as they like. Don’t stress about the sugar consumption. Enjoy your own Easter Eggs. Easter Monday can also be relaxed.
On Easter Tuesday, pack up the chocolate and put it in a box each in the fridge. Chocolate consumption now becomes part of snack time. You can offer it along with another food (maybe fruit, veggies, milk, pikelets) and your child can choose how much to have at that snack time. This doesn’t mean they can eat the chocolate all day long! You can choose an amount for them to have at dessert time, but at other snack times they are in charge of the amounts.
Finally, make sure your child doesn’t feel watched or judged while they’re eating. Do your best NOT to comment on what they’ve had, how much they’ve had, or if they feel sick after eating lots of chocolate. You want your child to know that chocolate is just a food, and you’re not fixated on what they do with it.
These three tips should help you to enjoy Easter time, and help your kids learn to listen to their tummy voice. If you’ve always controlled how much your child eats, then it can be difficult for them to work this out for themselves at first. Don’t panic though- because they can! If you do feel worried about how much your child eats, please get in touch with a paediatric dietitian experienced in intuitive eating and the Division of Responsibility. It will make such a difference for your child in the long run.
About Toddler Mealtimes
Toddler Mealtimes is an online subscription for parents who want to feel confident about teaching their toddler to enjoy a variety of foods. It's particularly helpful for those who are noticing their toddler becoming increasingly fussy, but they're not quite sure to handle it. The 12 month subscription guides you through managing toddler fussiness with confidence with regular tips and tricks via videos and photos. Sign up here www.toddlermealtimes.com.au
About Baby Mealtimes
Baby Mealtimes is an online subscription for parents with babies aged 4-12 months. It’s your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about introducing solid food to your baby. The 12 month subscription guides you through what to offer and when, with meal ideas and a photo gallery of over 120 finger foods organised by age. Sign up here www.babymealtimes.com.au
About Mealtime Building Blocks
Dr Kyla Smith and Liz Beaton are paediatric dietitians specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. Lauren Pike is an occupational therapist working in fussy eating and feeding difficulties. They have a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla, Liz and Lauren on their website and sign up for their newsletter, and the Facebook page or on the Instagram page.