Being firm vs obsessing w cake/candy

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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 3:17 am
My daughter has 3 kids, oldest daughter will be 6 in September.

She called me the other night and needed some guidance about parenting with regards to focusing too much on healthy eating & limiting cake & candy. Her kids have always been good eaters. They are also really nice sized for their age (tall & solid), B’H. They all look at least 1.5 years older than they are. Her daughter looks 7. She & her husband are small, slight statures & it’s actually so funny. But that’s a side thing. Anyway, she says her daughter has put on some weight lately & she wants to eat cake & candy all the time. Or she asks for cake & candy a lot. My dd is very firm. She lets her have a treat for dessert after dinner & after a healthy snack when she gets home from school. & more than than on Shabbos. My granddaughter still asks for more treats. My dd thinks shes bored, not hungry, and explained this to her. She gives her other options; ie read a book together, draw, etc. After that, still asks for the cake/candy. Then my dd made a chart. Etc etc etc. In general this grand daughter is a tricky one, & always was. She tests my dd a lot. & she is very hard to gauge. Last year I bought her that emotion book (can’t remember name of it - where Avi names your emotions) & they read it together often.

Soooo my dd does not want this to become A THING for her own dd. Which I totally get.
I suggested she do activities with her ie swimming or gymnastics. But there is limited resources too. (She did register for swimming the next day Smile )

How does one know when to stop focusing on healthy eating & set limits or not? It’s really hard to know. For a girl, healthy eating and obsessing about food can get so easily messed up & turn into something larger than life.
My dd says she’s so scared she’s gonna go overboard with her own dd. I tried to reassure her that she’s doing a great job & she’s human but I know what she feels like especially when it’s your oldest child going through things & you have no frame of reference. & she IS a very hard child to read. You never know what shes feeling or thinking. I was also thinking of play therapy. But can a parent do that on her own?
Are there any good parenting books out there to recommend for her? Thoughts?

Thanks so much
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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 4:40 am
Saying no to treats and candy is called setting healthy limits for your child. It has nothing to do with creating an eating disorder, as it doesn't sound like she's restricting food in general, just junk. Well that's the job of a parent Smile It's not always comfortable to set healthy limits, but it's certainly in the child's best interests. She's already giving a set amount of treats, so the child knows what's expected and isn't completely deprived. It's normal that she's pushing the boundaries but she also needs to have those boundaries upheld firmly and confidently for her own emotional and physical safety.

On a separate note, I would think about what's driving her to constantly crave sweets. Maybe your dd can speak to a nutritionist and find out whether she's unknowingly giving her kids a diet that makes them crave certain foods. Not to actually put anyone on a diet, just to tweak what she's been serving them to help them actually feel full and crave sweets less.

Also, for some kids, overeating comes from a sensory craving. Their bodies are seeking out certain sensations and food provides that. She can consider trying to provide more opportunities for tactile sensory play, such as kinetic sand, water play, slime, play doh. And try to notice if giving her kids these opportunities regularly makes them turn to food less often outside of regular meal and snack times.
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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 4:47 am
I think your title says it all. Being firm is normal. Obsessing creates problems. Your daughter sounds like she's doing fine. Kids always ask for more: more treats, more presents, more screen time, etc. Parents set limits. That's all. The only other thing is to keep weight out of the discussion. A focus on weight is what leads to problems.
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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 4:56 am
Don't keep junk food in the house.
Don't refer to them as treats.
Don't reward with food.
Don't give kids food to keep them entertained.
Give healthier snacks like fruit and vegetables.
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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 5:02 am
You said like a great mom and bubbi. I think your DD is doing great. I would keep with the firm limits. Luckily she had them in place before her DD’s weight became an issue. So much easier and mentally healthier then setting them now. She should just keep it up. A lot of girls will gain weight pre-puberty and then even out.
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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 5:09 am
I just want to say that my mother did the same thing as your dd is doing. She achieved the results she wanted. I was thin and healthy and had no cavities (not tall though).
However I felt deprived and always wished I could have more nosh. I was jealous of my friends and neighbors who seemed to be able to get nosh whenever they wanted. I would love going to the girls homes who gave me yummy treats.

When I became an independent adult with a paycheck the first thing I bought was.... food! I was free! I had a private stash of chips, chocolate, cookies....
All fattening food was limited growing up, not only sweets. I remember once buying myself a pie of pizza! ( I couldn’t finish more than 3 slices...) one time I bought a container of chocolate milk powder and ate it by the spoon full until I felt sick.

I promised myself that I would not deprive my own kids. I knew that because the food I wanted was always limited and used as rare treats, I had developed an unhealthy relationship with food. I promised myself that I would do whatever I could to make sure my own kids have a healthy relationship with food. As I child it’s true that I was thin and didn’t have any cavities. Now as an adult I am slightly overweight and have very bad teeth... I am constantly going on and off of weight watchers because if I am not careful with what I eat I realize that I still to this day.... (almost a grandmother), want more and more and don’t have the self control to stop.

With my own kids I give them candy but mostly only on shabbos. During the week they get snack bags (something I NEVER got) and cookies. I allow chocolate milk and don’t make a fuss about how healthy it is to drink a few cups of milk a day. Because I don’t make a big deal about food I see that they really like healthy things too. They are excited about pepper slices and cut up apples. They love when I make salad! If they are eating a piece of cake or cookies they ask me for milk... they realize how good regular plain milk is with a cookie. I buy them pizza regularly (not like when I was growing up and we got it once or twice a year!)
None of my kids are overweight. They do have cavities... they do not help themselves to unlimited junk food, they know they have to ask first. When I grew up it wasn’t even in the house! My kids know it’s here and sometimes we eat it. Usually they ask when it’s mealtime and they are hungry. I tell them that we should eat supper first and then we’ll decide... After supper their craving is much less. They might be fine with a small freeze pop. Often I see that the nosh they asked for doesn’t even get finished. They will start eating something and then just leave it. I would not have done that as a child. I would have savored every lick or bite.

In general, I see that it can really backfire if children feel deprived. If your granddaughter wants chips but your daughter offers her popcorn she might be fine with that. But don’t try to convince her that she is not hungry and that eating too much is not good! She doesn’t have to eat a creamy piece of bakery cake, she can have a homemade brownie with a cup of milk. I think your daughter should even take her dd to the store to be able to pick out her own 2 treats for shabbos. This way she’ll know it’s there, waiting for her as a shabbos treats and won’t obsess about candy.
It’s fine to give smaller treats here and there during the week. Making a big deal about what your granddaughter is eating will only backfire. If you allow the candy they will be excited about fruits and vegetables too. If you insist that they MUST eat vegetables, they will grow to dislike it very much. Everything in moderation is the key.

At a recent kiddush I noticed kids whose mothers do not allow candy, stuffing their pockets. The other kids who had candy at home reached for a treat a enjoyed the one treat they chose.
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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 5:25 am
She shouldn't be having this power struggle with the kids. She should figure out which treats she's ok with and keep those in the house. But don't deprive them of treats altogether.
Buy something special for the kids for shabbos in small quantity just enough for that shabbos. Buying a family pack will mean she has to say no to seconds and thirds and treats throughout the week so just buy enough for the shabbos treat.
When at a simcha when there's unlimited stuff don't look at what they're eating just smile and be gracious.
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Post  Thu, May 23 2019, 9:38 am
All of the above and your daughter should keep getting feeling books-there are plenty at the library, she doesn't have to buy. In addition, role modeling is the best teaching method. A family where everybody talks about their feelings will be more likely to have kids talk about their feelings. Even as simple as going around the supper table and sharing happy and sad, scared, angry feelings about something that happened that day. Parents sharing their daily happenings and feelings.

Some of the writers here mentioned how fat was restricted the same as junk food. There is a big difference. People need fat. Fat helps you feel full. Fat should not be restricted as much as junk food which has no redeeming qualities. (although adding heavy cream to everything isn't so wise)
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Post  Fri, May 24 2019, 10:08 am
I definitely agree that if a kid feels deprived of the food they crave it’s not a good thing. Every kid may be different in this regard. You can still have limits just set them wider, the main thing is that there are limits in place.
I once heard a great quote - “better dental problems than mental problems”
Good luck!
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