Do you stick to your healthy diet during the holidays?
What about your kids?
I let my kids eat tons of sugar at Christmas time—actually, from Halloween through around January 5th. Not January 1st, because only a fool would attempt a healthy diet reboot while there is still pie in the house.
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And, of course, our Disneyland trips are a free-for-all.
The other 9 months of the year, I’m serious about nutrition.
Why do I let my kids eat crap at Christmas time?
Because that is what Christmas is for!
My kids eat sugar at Christmas:
- Candy canes. Yes, even though they’re striped with red dye and made with GMO corn syrup.
- Cakes and pies. Yes, even though they’re chock full of GMO flour, sugar, and cornstarch.
- Shirley Temples. Dyes again, and High Fructose Corn Syrup. Do you know grenadine is supposed to be made with pomegranate syrup? There is 0% pomegranate syrup in Rose’s grenadine. But it sure is yummy.
- Christmas cookies. All of them. Yes! Yes! Yes!
You know when kids shouldn’t have sugar?
- At breakfast in cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, and juice.
- At lunch in sandwich meat, jelly, crackers, bread, canned fruit, and juice boxes.
- As a snack. You know.
- At dinner in jarred spaghetti sauce and salad dressing and bread and ketchup and pretty much every convenience food, even those organic sweet potato fries and even pickles. Do not look at the ingredients on your pickle jar unless you are prepared to make the switch to organic pickles, which are gross.
- Any time after dinner unless it’s a piece of birthday cake or an eventful treat. Remember when treat meant once in a while on a very special occasion and not habitual?
When we constantly give our kids sugar, we steal fun from their holidays.
Because, to paraphrase Syndrome,
When every day’s super, no day will be.
I don’t know about your kids, but my kids are offered sugar and junky snacks everywhere they go, and twice on Sundays. (Literally: my daughter gets candy in both Sunday School and Children’s Worship. Don’t get me started on Donut Sunday.)
Every activity, accomplishment, and outing is punctuated by sugar. Why aren’t we asking why? Why are moms perpetrating the sugar rush? We’re the ones who have to deal with the mood swings and inattention and lethargy when our kids aren’t eating healthy food!
Any time a group of kids stands up for more than 10 minutes it’s only natural to pump them full of Gatorade and protein bars, right? After I was one upped by a mom who brought not one, not two, but three post-game snacks for each kid, packaged like a red carpet swag bag, I won back my Team Mom hero badge by bringing cans of Pepsi and full size Snickers bars as the post game snack for my son’s baseball team.
Hey, why not? I added up the sugar grams for a Pepsi and a Snickers bar and they had fewer grams of sugar than the Snapples and granola bars I had given my daughter’s team the week before. What I should have brought? Water. Not even water, because 9-year-olds should really be able to manage their own hydration. But we decided 20 years ago that every kid gets a trophy so our kids can’t even find a water fountain by themselves (not that they’d be allowed to stray more than an arm’s length from parental supervision to look for one, and not that they’d be allowed to drink from the Fount of the Germs of 100 Nations anyway). I stray. Back to sugar:
I can count on two hands the number of restaurants I ate in when I was a kid. My kids can count on two hands the number of restaurants they ate in this month. About the only things you can order at a restaurant that don’t have sugar are eggs, which are stupid to waste money on, and steak, which is delicious to waste money on.
Do you know how much sugar a small McDonald’s cheeseburger has? 7 grams. Do you know what’s extra ew? The small hamburger has 6 grams of sugar. That means McDonald’s puts sugar in its cheese-like product.
Do you know how much sugar a kid’s size hot chocolate from Starbucks has? 24. That’s 2 tablespoons of sugar in an 8 oz drink!
Do you know that ketchup has one teaspoon of sugar in every tablespoon? And what kid only eats one tablespoon of ketchup at a time?
Sugar is a problem, but Christmas is not the time to fix it.
We don’t have a sugar problem during the holidays. Fun and sweet treats are a big part of what makes a holiday special! We do have a sugar problem every day. If you think you don’t eat that much sugar, I triple dog dare you to do a Whole30 with your kids.
If you’re a super healthy mom who lets loose for the holidays but has to draw the line somewhere, I’ve bookmarked some great organic holiday baking items on Amazon you might like. You can check out my little Amazon store for organic flours (including gluten free and Paleo choices), organic spices, handmade candy canes without corn syrup, organic powdered sugar and natural food coloring for Christmas cookie icing…pretty much every item you’d need for healthy-ish holiday baking, and you can get it all with free Prime shipping!
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This Christmas season,
I will continue to surprise my kids with “Mom’s gone crazy” treats like an Elf breakfast complete with the four food groups:
I will bake cookies with my kids until we run out of the 6 jars of sprinkles I bought on clearance at Target last January.
I will say yes to eggnog and opening a second bottle of Martinelli’s and Shirley Temples with those horrifying yet delectable neon red maraschino cherries.
I will say yes to gumdrops and Red Hots and m&m’s and licorice ropes for gingerbread house decorations even though everyone has cavities.
I’ll buy fast food on days we’re busy having a blast and I won’t worry (too much) about it. Until January 5th. Because by then the pie will be gone and we’ll get back to normal.
Then, the sugar gets put away (or thrown away) and it only reappears on special occasions, because a special occasion is the only place sugar belongs.
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