Forget the limits and bribery around chocolate this Easter
Forget the limits and bribery around the chocolate this Easter.
How it helps with normal eating and fussy kids.
No limits? Say whaaat!
Please stay with me.. it all makes sense.
When chocolate becomes the focus of the holidays and there’s a whole range of chocolate quantities your kids might receive, from a small handful to a lifetime supply, we can easily become overwhelmed and forget to keep it simple. And enjoyable.
Just like the sweetness of Halloween and parties and party bags there are the key principles of normal balanced eating, mindful eating and the Division of Responsibility in Feeding at family mealtimes that we share on Instagram, Facebook and in our books to help maintain the balance this Easter and not make chocolate an obsessive focus for the kids.
Here’s some tips to help your family enjoy the chocolate and share the focus on family time together too.
1. Let the kids be excited about The Easter bunny and the chocolate
There’s a big lead up to Easter and The Easter bunny’s arrival these days. As soon as January hits the hot cross buns are in store, the chocolate lines the shelves and the colouring competitions heat up. So with the big anticipation of Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies by bedsides it seems a bit cruel to put the limits on the chocolate or use it as bribery straight off the bat (or at all, really!) – even if it is well meaning on our behalf. Acknowledge and share the excitement but plan some fun adventures together during the extended break too – a beach swim, a park picnic, a bushwalk.
2. Let them enjoy the chocolate and encourage them to listen to their tummies
Let them eat the chocolate when they want to and stop eating it when they want to. Just for a day or two. Without rules and restrictions around eating the chocolate they often don’t become so fixated on it. If they don’t receive a lot they may eat it all that day and guess what? It’s all gone and you can get back to normal eating. If they receive a ton they may tire of the chocolate sooner than you think, save some for later (even if it’s 5 minutes later!) or even forget about it but they get a chance to feel what it’s like to perhaps over-indulge and may begin to self-limit their chocolate consumption – winning! Some kids may not like all the types of chocolate too – some of mine don’t like the soft centred ones or the popping candy types either.
If you feel the chocolate haul seems excessive you can cull a few, enjoy some yourself, but be careful not to lose the trust of your child either. Some other tips are to use the chocolate in baking or some Easter egg chocolate fondue but try to be transparent with your children particularly the older ones!
3. Move the chocolate and stick to snacks and mealtimes
After the initial day of excitement (or weekend) it’s helpful to get back on track with scheduled mealtimes and moving the chocolate out of reach and simply get back to routine and enjoy it only at snack and mealtimes. (Personally, I keep breakfasts chocolate free but its up to you!) Offering the usual nutritious snacks and meal times plus letting them choose some chocolate to enjoy too. Remembering the Division of Responsibility in Feeding helps a lot: we as parents/carers are responsible for when a child eats and what a child is offered and the child is responsible for what foods are offered and how much. Forget the bribes too – it’s only putting the fixation on the chocolate and attributing anxiety to the more nutritious foods. Let them be and they will often eat some of both.
A good trick to keep a balance between not restricting their choice but not allowing free access during a meal or snack time is by letting them choose a selection (try not to limit, as you’ve already limited the chocolate to meal and snack times) but once they have chosen you can put back out of reach until the next mealtime.
4. Watch and learn
You probably already know a lot about your child’s eating behaviours, what foods they like and how they like to eat it. If you have more that one you probably know which one eats the stash in one go vs the child that ‘saves some for later’. But they always surprise you too. Let them eat, avoid commenting too much, sometimes a reminder that they might like to save some for later can help but we don’t say that about broccoli do we, so it can also work against us too.
An example: my 3 boys were all given a 100g chocolate bunny at family get-together the weekend before Easter. They were all given the opportunity to enjoy the bunny. My eldest (7) or ‘the save some for later’ child ate it all in one go, my middle boy (4.5) or the ‘the eat it all in one go’ child ate a 1/3 of it before saying he’d like to save some for later and my youngest (2.5) asked me to help break off the ears, then proceeded to through the ears and the body on the ground declaring ‘no, I don’t like it’ and didn’t eat any. That was it and they all resumed their soccer game in the backyard together and enjoyed a yummy dinner not long after. The next day: the eldest child was jealous of the middle child who had saved some for later and the youngest one forgot entirely about his bunny and I enjoyed his chocolate instead.
5. Be a role model
Think about your attitude to chocolate and try and remove any feelings of guilt yourself. If you overindulge try not to comment out loud too much, if at all, about how you might be feeling. Enjoy chocolate mindfully and as you would like your children to. Eat it freely as you allow them too and then keep it to snack times and mealtimes as you offer it to your kids. It’s hard to keep the balance if they see you snacking between meal and snack times when you’ve told them to wait. Plus enjoying it all together makes it more enjoyable and even more sweeter.
In the scheme of things this is not the everyday and all foods are just food, some might be more nutritious and offered more frequently, and some are less nutritious and offered only sometimes. But they’re all food and all to be enjoyed. Have your chocolate and enjoy it too. Happy Easter!Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces.