ZiZi climbed off the bus with this tucked under her arm yesterday afternoon:
Her lips and teeth were blue, and she was chewing a wad of gum that was way too big for her mouth.
With a goofy smile on her face, she said, “Guess what Mom?”
“You won the estimation game at school?”
“Yes! There were 96 gum balls in the jar, and I guessed 94! I gave some away on the bus, and I had a few, so there are 72 left.” She was so proud of herself, and clinging to her prize.
All I could think was, “How am I going to get this mood-altering candy away from her? It’s hard enough to be an 8 year old girl with red hair, without a bunch of sugar and chemicals messing with your brain.”
I tried to bargain with money. I think it’s a much more appropriate reward than food, and she usually takes the bait. But not this time. The gum was a novelty–something she consumes a few times a year–and she wanted to enjoy it.
“There’s a lot of sugar in that gum, and you know sugar affects your moods. How about I’ll trade you a dollar for the whole jar?”
“How about a Beanie Boo key chain for your backpack?”
“Can I have the $6 Beanie Boo I want at Richard’s?”
I had to draw the line. Six dollars would have sent the wrong message.
“No, honey, I think that’s too much.”
And then, I remembered that our dentist had a dish of Spry Gum, last week when we visited. Spry is non-GMO, has no artificial colors, artificial preservatives, GMO or carcinogenic sugars, or artificial flavors and it is made with Xylitol. Also, the manufacturers claim it cleans our teeth as we chew.
I still don’t think that chewing gum is a good idea–it messes with our body’s ability to produce digestive enzymes–but I decided Spry Gum was a much better option than big blue sugar-coated gum balls .
“How about I buy you some of the Spry Gum you loved at Dr. Goldstein’s last week. It’s a healthier choice than sugary gum, right?”
“Could I have fruit flavor?”
“You can have any flavor you like! But I get the sugary gum with the blue dye.”
“OK, Mom that’s fair.”
As soon as we got home, I fired up my laptop, and together we ordered 100 pieces of Fresh Fruit Spry Chewing Gum.
Here’s the thing, though…I will only offer it once when it arrives. I feel like the less I offer treats, the less my kids expect them, and the more balanced they can be in their diet. Our rule is no more than one treat a day, and I work hard to make sure we stick to it.
In doing so, I’ve learned that it’s best to rarely offer treats, BUT oblige within reason, when asked. My kids receive so much sugar outside the house, that it’s impossible to stick to our “one treat a day” rule, if I offer sweets at home. So, I keep candy and gum of sight, which usually keeps it out of mind. This is how we deal with Halloween candy, Valentine’s candy, birthday party goody bags, and other sweets that come into our home unexpectedly. I also make a point of asking a lot of questions about school each day, including whether they had any candy, cupcakes or other sweets. They are good about telling me the truth…I think because we have always talked this way, and they know I only ask because I truly care about their well-being.
When ZiZi asks for her gum later this week, I will oblige, if she has not had any other treats that day. Afterwards, I’ll put the gum up on a shelf, until she asks for it again. She will remember the day after, and maybe the day after that, but at some point ZiZi will forget about the gum. When she does remember, or if I need a semi-healthy treat for her, I will pull it back out when it serves a purpose.
I wanted share this story with you, because I think it demonstrates a fundamental belief about this crazy healthy life. We always have options to be healthier, and where there is a will to make a healthier choice, there is a way to make it happen.
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