Halloween has come and gone, and if you have young kids you may be a bit relieved. However, when you recall the sack of collected candy that now lingers in your home, you are also reminded that indeed Halloween is not over. Rather, this holiday of spooks and frights is the beginning of a season of sweets that will carry us straight into the New Year. We need a plan that ensures sweets and “sometimes” foods don’t become an everyday event for our children and for us.
What exactly is a sometimes food? As the name says, it’s a food that we should only consume “sometimes.” This is because these foods are not nutrient rich, often higher in sugar, saturated fat, or calories, and not ideal for providing us the long-term, sustaining energy we seek daily. This brings us to the contrary or everyday foods. “Every day” foods are just the opposite, and are the foods we should seek every day because they provide an assortment of nutrients, help us meet our daily needs, and assist in our goal of eating to be satisfied.
Referring to our foods as “every day” or “sometimes” offers the opportunity to avoid less helpful labels like “good” or “bad,” which are difficult for young people to understand. We may be able to identify the foods we can have every day from those we should only have every now and then, but that still doesn’t help manage the sack of sweets attracting your children (and you?). Naturally, as your dietitian, I have some ideas on how your family can learn to live with sometimes foods.
It’s not novel, but it’s true that the first line of defense in controlling sweets is to get them out of sight. It’s been established that kids who have a fruit bowl visible on their kitchen counter eat more produce. It makes sense that the same would happen with candy.
Sweets Are Not a Homework Partner.
It’s very common for kids to pair a sweet with their homework. I strongly discourage allowing this partnership to develop, as kids who emotionally eat to manage their homework, or associate homework time with “sweet treat time”, can easily become teens and then adults that do the same. Rather, when we want to enjoy candy, cookies or another “sometimes” food, we should do it at a time when we can savor it.
This is the piece that I strongly encourage us all to consider. Whether it’s the candy that’s stashed just out of reach, or the holiday pie that still sits on our counter, we want to be sure to enjoy these sweets mindfully, slowly, and with joy. We don’t want to quickly consume them, maybe while standing at the counter pretending like we aren’t eating them. The bottom line is that unless we eat them slowly and create a memorable moment, we are very likely to overlook the experience and may even eat sweets more than once, because we aren’t recalling that we already have.
As your local Hannaford Dietitian, I’m pleased to be sharing my advice and simple tips. Please visit www.hannaford.com/dietitians for my in-store schedule of classes, demonstrations, and store tours or call (845) 855-0553 for more information.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (2 Guiding Stars)
These cookies are made with whole grains, spices and just enough sweet to pass as a cookie. For more better-for-you desserts and information on the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program, please visit www.guidingstars.com.
1 c. instant oats
¾ c. whole wheat flour
2 t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. ginger
1 ½ t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
2 T. olive oil
¾ c. pumpkin purée
1 t. vanilla extract
½ c. date paste
3 T. (28g) dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Stir together oats, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, pumpkin purée, and vanilla. Stir in the date paste.
Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop the cookie dough into 15 rounded scoops onto the prepared sheet. Bake at 325°F for 11 – 14 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack.