Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tried To Make Her Go To Rehab; She Said No, No, No

My child is a junkie.

It started innocently enough. A little hit now and then, at parties. It couldn't hurt, I reasoned, and besides, all the other kids were doing it. The buzz they enjoyed seemed harmless, and besides, I'm partial to that buzz myself, and it would be hypocritical to deny my children something that I don't deny myself. So I let her have some, just a little bit, now and then. I thought that I was being careful: never too much, and only on special occasions. But then summer came along and the temptation was everywhere: in the parks, on the beach, near the shops. And after summer, fall, and with fall, Hallowe'en, and after Hallowe'en, it became obvious.

We have a problem.

Emilia is an addict. She is addicted to candy and treats and desserts and any and all things that make good use of sugar, with the notable exception of any dessert-like creation that contains fruit or - god forbid - raisins. She (rightly) regards all fruit-based desserts and raisin-contaminated baked goods as corrupt treats - like bad acid or cheap ganja - that should be avoided at all costs. We're not sure when it started - I had always been vigilant about treats in the house, restricting her to 100% natural fruit bars and oatmeal biscuits and yogurt with honey, except for the occasional cupcake or ice cream on birthdays or holidays or outings - but we think that the addiction took root in her summer ice cream habit and blossomed into full junk-dependency with the candy windfall that came this past Hallowe'en (helped along, no doubt, by the Jellybean Potty Incentive Program that we were running this fall.)

Hallowe'en is a sugar junkie's dream, and I'm sure that it's responsible for creating more jacked-up sugar bingers than Christmas and Easter and birthdays combined. I could see it in her face, as she sped deliriously from house to house, clutching her bag to her wee chest, eyes flashing like highbeams, mad with longing and anticipation. Look, Mommy! she'd squeal gleefully. I have TOO MUCH CANDY! TOO MUCH! We tried to intervene, appropriating her smack bag and only allowing her to select a few choice pieces, but it was too late. She happily traded most of the contents of the bag for a new toy, but we discovered the next day, and over subsequent days, that she had performed some sleight of hand and purloined a sizable quantity of candy from the bag before it was removed, a stash that she then divided and tucked into Ziploc bags and squirreled away in hiding places (the oven of her toy kitchen, her sock drawer, a toy suitcase, her backpack) around the house. We would stumble across remnants of her stash while tidying, or discover her under the blankets at bedtime, furiously working the wrapper of a lollipop. Every Ziploc'ed baggy was appropriated, only to be replaced by another. How she had managed to loot and smuggle so much junk was a mystery to us, but there it was: she had an addiction that she needed to feed and feed it she did.


We think, now, that we've tracked down and re-appropriated all of the candy in the house, but she persists in her efforts to acquire a new supply. Can I have candy, Mommy? Can I have candy after dinner? Can I have candy after bedtime? Can I have candy for Christmas? Can I, Mommy? CAN I? We respond with wholegrain biscuits and no-sugar added fruit chews, and she freaks out. THAT'S NOT CANDY I WANT CANDY I WANT CANDEEEEEE! Or CAKE. We offer yogurt with honey and soy pudding (chocolate!) and coconut-date cookies; she throws herself on the floor and wails.

So we decided to compromise, and plotted a harm-reduction scheme: we stocked the cupboards with a better-quality candy substitute, with the idea that we'd ply her with that, the better to wean her from the hard stuff. We'd provide sugar-methadone to ease her candy detox; we'd supply some jungle juice to get her off the smack. We bought her Froot Loops and Corn Pops.

And now she's a sugar-cereal freak.


What do we do? We want to break her sugar habit, and rid our home of all candy and sugar-cereals (which I SWORE up and down I would never, ever allow into my house), but seriously: THE SCREAMING. Also, we don't want to be total buzzkills: what's Christmas without gingerbread and candy canes? I was a sugar freak as a kid myself, and I know that my obsession with sugar was made worse by my parents' attempts to keep me from it (some of my earliest memories are of climbing onto kitchen counters to raid the cupboards for brown sugar - straight up - and baker's chocolate.) Can a sugar obsession be tempered? Do we make it worse by cutting her off, or is cutting her off the only option? WHAT DO WE DO?


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87 Comments:

Blogger Kaleigh said...

If memory serves, it'll pass. Don't allow it to be too much of a conflict or you'll all spend too much time freaking out and not enough time being a family.

Oh, and fruity cheerios have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, which is better than most "regular" cereals.

And keep her well-snacked throughout the day - she might be craving sugar because she's hungry. Or because it's delicious.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Ariel said...

We went cold turkey at our house- with me throwing everything out. The almost husband was less than thrilled, but I was SO sick of the constant begging (nay, whining) for candy.
And then I could say, honestly, "There is none. Have a cracker. Have some apple."

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

Hi,

We went thru the exact thing the day after halloween. We had been using small chocolates as bribes or incentives for good behaviour for a while. That worked until she discovered that she could just "reward" herself by climbing onto the counter and helping herself.

We threw away everything!!
I know, scary. And, I committed myself to doing a serious amount of baking. So I could keep track of what ingredients she was eating.

We started drilling into her that we eat because we are hungry, and because we need to make our bodies grow and be strong. We said that candy and chocolate would not make her strong like daddy and smart like mommy hehe.

It has really been working, and she has even started eating better. Her behaviours have inproved, as has her ecsema.

Sorry for the long comment. I know what you are going thru, its very hard to face that little demon, and stick to your word... good luck!

12:56 PM  
Blogger SP said...

I have a "Sugar is dessert" policy in my house. Over time, the Things just got used to only having it after dinner and at the same time they knew that they would get a little treat every day. That was my attempt to balance outright denial and limiting quantity.

P.S. I completely LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that she doesn't like fruit/raisin desserts. I agree 100%. Fruit should be exactly as God created it, not all mushy in desserts. Ick.

Pp.S. You are one fantastic Momma who has touched my heart with your blog so many times. Thank you.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Ariel said...

And I might add- she can eat it other places, we just don't keep it at home. So it truly is a treat. And not a necessity :)

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Sarah SC said...

My SIL's kids went through this and to cure it, she capitalized on their love of giving. Children LOVE to give gifts, they LOVE to feel like they're helping other people and doing the right thing, the big-kid thing.

So she gathered as much sugary stuff as she could - sugar cereal, taffy, Halloween candy, less sugary puddings, etc. included - and she put it in one big basket. Then she called the local soup kitchen/food pantry place and asked if they would do her a favor and play along with her, encourage her daughter by telling her that she was doing the right thing. (I think she tossed the half-eaten stuff? I don't know.)

Then she explained to her daughter that other people needed the sugary stuff because they didn't have any, they weren't lucky enough to celebrate Halloween, etc. Her daughter was pretty excited about "helping" them out and giving her sweets to them. They went down, she donated and the woman at the pantry gave her a little thank-you teddy bear and praised her.

My nieces could not have been prouder!

Anyway, afterwards, they predictably asked if they could go buy more candy and my SIL said that when they got home, they could bake some cookies together. They baked a few dozen, wrapped some up for family (more "giving") and the girls were allowed one each after dinner until the last dozen was gone. I think she spent the week explaining to them that if they screamed or complained, they were never getting candy again, which might be harsh, but you know what?

It worked.

Good luck! =)

1:00 PM  
Blogger worldmomma said...

I'm impressed by her creativity in stashing the candy. Smart girl!

Interesting and timely topic. This is an issue I think we'll struggle with too, since both my husband and I have major sweet tooths and would really not pass that on. My parents were restrictive though and that didn't seem to work so well.

We were not giving River any access to sugar, thinking he wouldn't miss it at this age (11 months). But then he became old enough to realize when I was eating something he couldn't have. I didn't think hypocrisy would work well. So about a week ago I decided I would not purchase anything or eat anything in front of him that I wouldn't want him to have. I figured it would end the hypocrisy and be good for my waistline. It's done both. But what it has also done is made me relax a bit about what I allow him to have. New additions include bran muffins, pumpkin chocolate chips muffins, even a bit of carrot cake.

I'm not sure where this will lead though, so I hope to learn from your experience and others who are further along. Good luck!

1:06 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Sarah SC - we actually did something like that to get the Halloween candy away from her in the first place: we offered the toy-for-candy trade and when she asked what was going to happen with the candy (which she had, apparently, already skimmed) we told her that it would go to children who didn't have candy and she was pretty pleased with that. But now that SHE's a child without candy, she wants to know when payback's coming.

The baking, though - will try that.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Katelin said...

she sounds exactly like my younger brothers, truly obsessed with anything and everything sugar. my mom has slowly started weening them off with stuff that still has sugar just not as much as the other stuff they were eating.

good luck breaking her habit :)

1:12 PM  
Blogger Mr Lady said...

You accept your fate, sister. Kids like candy. You can't stop the thunda. I vote for making them work for it. You want a Dora gummy snack? You're helping me load the dishwasher first, kiddo. :)

1:16 PM  
Blogger mapsgirl said...

I too was going to suggest Fruity Cheerios (which are called Fruit Loops in my house cuz they don't know the difference!)

If you don't want her to go "cold turkey", I suggest getting some diabetic candy that doesn't have any sugar in it. She'll think it's candy, but it won't have the side effect.

Good luck.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

We too are suffering the aftermath of Hallowe'en, a three year old, and sugar addiction. I started by going from two treats a day to one treat. Now we're every other day.

What seems to work for us, is requiring Nate to eat all his veggies (or most of them) before getting an after dinner treat. Doesn't finish, no treat. He keeps whining, he loses Wii privileges (addiction #2). (Oh, we're right up there with parents of the year nominees. Heh.)

Anyway, we're getting, one beg-fest at a time, towards normalcy. Just in time for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive and spoil him.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

I got nothing.

I'm too busy laughing at the thought of you being held hostage by a sugar-cracked-out kidlet.

Snicker.

Seriously. Emilia is a smart cookie. She is manipulating you to get what she wants.

Manipulate back. Go with Mr. Lady's suggestion and every time she wants a treat have her earn it.

Soon she'll be salivating like Pavlov's dog.

Or you'll be flying to my house looking for an escape from her.

Either way, it's win-win.

Heh.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous MikeandtheMoms said...

Have you read The Sugar Blues? It's a book written back in the 70s/80s. Read it and you'll be scared sugarless.

My mom got rid of refined sugar when I was about 12 or so. There are tons of alternatives - maple syrup, raw sugar, etc - that are healthy.

As far a kid's sugar cravings go... try cutting back slowly. Insisting fruit is eaten before candy and also making sure she's not just thirsty. When you're craving something sweet, your body is often telling you that it's dehydrated.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Expat Mom said...

Ack, what a struggle. Well, we tried not to introduce the boys to candy, but the in-laws did it for us. And I`m a total Pepsi addict.

We basically just don`t let candy in the house. My oldest son has stomach problems, so he actually can`t have much sugar and he`s just starting to associate the fact that candy makes him ill. So he sometimes even refuses it. We offer him a substitute, peanuts, which he loves.

On another note, I was raised candy-free and as soon as I had a bit of freedom, I scarfed down everything sugary I could find and got nice and fat. So you might want to watch the 100% cold turkey thing. ;)

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never had much of a sweet tooth, even as a kid. (Mom still thinks I'm wierd. Keep the Snickers bar, I'll have a pickle.)

But sugar was always available in some form in the house. My mom had an addiction, so it was always around. Not in pounds, or anything, but there were always a few sweets to be had.

I've managed to not become a sugar freak. Mom, on the other hand . . .

Well, let's just say that I though there was an Easter Ferret, 'cause I never saw a cholocate bunny with ears until I started buying my own.

Lamont

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had cousins that would come to my house and steal my candy when I was a kid because they weren't allowed their own.

My little guy is 3 and he's allowed one treat per day. If he whines he gets nothing, if he's naughty he gets nothing, if he nags about his treat he gets nothing. That works pretty well for us. It was a bit of a battle to start with but he learned pretty quick if he wanted something nice he had to earn it.

I think outlawing sweet things nearly always ends badly, just make sure she knows the candy's on your terms not hers.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

We raised our kids sugar-free and artificial color free. In fact when our daughter was 2 she would ask her friend's mother "Does it have artifithial?" before she would accept snacks.

When she went out on her own she bought and ate massive amounts of candy. Then in her 20's she went back to the no sugar diet and now won't even let me give her baby girl juice.

Our son, raised the same way, has never cared much for any sweets at all.

I'm glad we did it that way. Our kids both have a sense of nutrition. Neither one had problems with sleep, hyperactivity, attention, or behavior. Both have always stayed at a healthy weight. What kids eat as kids is what their bodies are built on.

On the other hand, I was raised with no restrictions to sugar. My mom thought kids needed it for energy and I've been healthy all my life. Now I really don't care for sweet things. I don't think there's one right and one wrong way for most things we encounter in life.

2:02 PM  
OpenID verybadcat said...

My name is verybadcat, and I am a sugar addict. My parents held an intervention (no kidding, they threatened me with catholic school!) when I was about 11 or 12. I dropped back to maintenance levels for awhile after that, but didn't kick the addiction until I was out on my own. I went cold turkey for two weeks- no candy, no ice cream, no coke, nothing with white sugar or corn syrup as a major player. After two weeks of detox, I couldn't finish a Snickers. No kidding. Now I'm a responsible user. ;-)

I would either wean her down rather aggressively, or cut her off cold turkey for a little while. Just so that a few pieces satisfy her sweet tooth instead of her feeling the need to hide it around the house....

And, could it be that candy is "special" and so when she has it she is "special", and what she really wants is to be grown up and "special"? You could paint her toenails and accomplish that....

Good luck. Oh, and don't forget to check the pockets of her coats and pants in the closet and drawers. Some of my favorite hiding places, you know, back in the day. ;-)

2:04 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I might be totally underreacting, but I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Of course there needs to be limits on sweeties like there needs to be limits on other things like TV, porn and whiskey, but as long as she's developing a taste for healthy, nutritious food she'll be fine in the long run.

When my kids (ages 5 & 3) came home with their Halloween pumpkins, we had a big candy fest but after that the pumpkins went on a high shelf in the pantry. They could pick two treats after lunch and dinner. Of course, my husband and I snacked heavily on it when they weren't looking, you know, so the kids wouldn't get so much--wink, wink. Then, when the candy was gone, it was gone.

We don't keep many sweets around the house and this is pretty huge since they don't expect to have them regularly. When they ask for the 'food' in the colorful boxes I tell them that we're not buying it because it's either 1) a waste of money or 2) it's not good for them and will give them a sick tummy.

When I want to give them a treat I have some LiveSaver Mints that I can break out--I think they make them sugar-free, if that's your thing.

Really, though, the big thing is to help her develop a taste for nutrition food and to set her expectations that sugary treats are something to be enjoyed--occasionally--after we've filled our tummies with good food that will help us to grow.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous red pen mama said...

I'm impressed she was hiding stuff. In Ziplocs, no less. That's serious.

I have just introduced sugar cereal into my household, and I'm still not sure why. Gotta find a way to get back out of that.

We are successfully avoiding high fructose corn syrup these days, though. Go figure.

My older daughter can take it or leave it, but Bun has a bona fide sweet tooth. Both girls love fresh fruit. When Monkey suggests a "treat" I feel pretty confident offering an apple or banana. They get treats, too, but I try to err on the healthier side of things. It's just that they are really good eaters (usually), so to say no to a bit of a cookie just doesn't make sense to me.

Good luck with whatever course of action you undertake.

ciao,
rpm

2:23 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

I have one of those too; the candy addicted junkies. It is so bad that she goes to the bathroom in restaurants and grabs handfuls of mints to line her pockets. I've tried calling rehabs, but they laugh at me. No one seems to think a candy addicted almost seven year old needs help. Oh the shame.

Sorry, I am laughing over here, but mostly because I FULLY understand.

I finally gave it up. I try not to buy much of it, but she gets it other places. Now that she's in school, that crap is everywhere. We just make sure they eat healthy meals and try not to worry about it. We have a snack drawer where it must all be placed. But I still find wrappers hidden in different trash cans sometimes. Honestly, I was the exact same way. The more my parents fought it, the worse it got.

2:38 PM  
Blogger litanyofbritt said...

i'm a bad mom. my kid is a fruit snack-aholic which is just as bad as a candy addict, PLUS my hub is a hardcore sugar fiend. he would take it in an IV bag if he could find a way.

but- ease up on the fruit loops if you will be replacing them with fruity cheerios, which are basically crunchy colored cardboard o's.

baking is a good alternative to candy weaning but be careful you don't wind up chasing around your reformed candy-holic with your new big fat ass. please. learn the hard lesson from me. and my big fat ass.

2:41 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

Candy shmandy! As long as she is eating healthy meals and brushing her teeth...it too shall pass.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

HA! Can I just say I am impressed at how she used sleight-of-hand to keep aside a Halloween stash?

I have to laugh or I'll cry because Graham is fighting a similar addiction these last few months after my being vigilant for so long.

I have just recently resigned myself to the thought that it could be worse, really. No (normal-with-normal-parents:)) kid ever died of candy addiction and isn't it one of the most glorious parts of childhood?

3:02 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I could have written this... I was so good, so diligent about the food offered and available in our house. My daughter was a good, healthy eater until she hit the age of about 2 1/2, when she turned into the fussiest eater ever.
Then I had to start getting creative with things like granola bars, Sunrype all-fruit bars, fortified juice and other prepared, packaged foods. She was pretty much refusing to eat and I needed to get the calories and nutrition into her. It was a slippery slope, I tell you, to all manner of other processed foods... that, combined with her exposure to things like cake, cookies and ice cream at birthday parties and other events in the outside world, has turned her into a junk-food junkie, too.
Since Halloween, she has started whispering in my ear as early as 9 a.m. every day-- "Is it time for a treat yet?" And I continue to hear it throughout the day.
I don't want to make foods good vs bad, boring vs forbidden and I am reluctant to start fighting about food, but it's very difficult to get her eating whole foods again.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

Oy vey, Cookie! I got bupkis for you; I'd sooner steal her stash myself! (I know, I'm not proud of that, either!)

Good luck. I'll save her a spot in the chow line at rehab. Between me & Amy W. ;-)

3:08 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

This is exactly what I'm afraid will happen next year!
Peanut STILL asks me for "trick or treat"... and I only let her have a couple of plain mini chocolate bars! (H freaked and said I was stealing her candy, but no way was I letting her eat all that crap.)
Right now we're battling a carb addiction. I can't have any bread/potatoes/rice on the table during dinner or she won't eat anything else....
Let me know if you find a solution!

3:21 PM  
Blogger No Mother Earth said...

How much does she like her veggies? I use the Hallowe'en candy to bribe the Boy into eating the veggies that he refuses to eat (i.e. everything that is not carrots). Started out well - he actually tried some new things. And he got a candy for dessert. Now he won't eat the veggies anymore, but he doesn't get the candy either. The shine wore off.

Would that work?

3:30 PM  
Blogger Ursula said...

The solution: homemade muffins. No, seriously. The secret is, you can control the sugar in them.

This is what I do: calculate the total amount of dry ingredients (or at least, of the flour and sugar). Divide by four. That is the amount of sugar you will actually use in the recipe. If the recipe calls for more than that, replace the extra amount with finely ground nuts. To up the sweetness (at least at first), you can replace the eggs with bananas, one banana per two eggs. (They work like binders, so you don't miss the eggs; just mash or food process the bananas thoroughly.) You can add in a handful of chocolate chips to most any recipe, and turn the result into a treat.

Now, it won't quite be health food (there's still sugar in there, after all), but the nuts and bananas are nutritious, and the muffins will retrain her tastebuds regarding the level of sweetness that a treat should have. Plus, helping Mom or Dad make muffins is a lot of fun for a little girl--when the kid helps cook it, they are much more inclined to view the result as delicious.

Now the hard part: other than the muffins (or other healthy, fruit-and-nut based snack), you have to remove all the candy and the sugary, candy cereal. The screaming will stop after a couple weeks and a few dozen muffins!

3:40 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Clever girl, to stash away a supply of Halloween treats before you removed the bag.

It sounds like an extreme addiction, but she's manipulating you, too. Perhaps limit her to one special treat a day, say mid afternoon or after a meal, but to get it behavior has to have been good or she hast to eat the meal... otherwise no treat. In other words, treats on your terms only, not because she's being a screaming horror.

3:59 PM  
Blogger All Things BD said...

We haven't outlawed the sweets, we just keep it on a high shelf and the girls are allowed one piece a day. No questions asked, even before breakfast if they want, but that's it for the day. If you whine about it later, the deal's off.

FYI on the sugarless candy: if it's got a sweetener ending in -tol, it has a laxative effect. One hike in the mountains with a bag of that stuff was enough to learn that lesson the hard way.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Syko said...

What did your mother do?

Sounds like Wondergirl is just following in Mom's footsteps. I wouldn't worry about it either. Maybe try to replace some of it with things that have SOME nutrition, like graham crackers with honey, or some caramel sauce to dip apple wedges in. Or make rice krispie treats (do they have rice krispies in Canada?) Cracker Jacks, granola bars. All these things may have a couple of vitamins and are still sweet.

I have to laugh at her methodically dividing out her stash into baggies and hiding it all over the house. The kid's serious about her sugar!

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I think just keep doing what you're doing. Offer healthy substitutes and give her occasional treats. Let her know they're treats, but don't make it into too huge a deal. And you can start cutting her fruit loops with cheerios and her corn pops with rice krispies too. I think it's mostly a phase helped along by a natural disposition for kids to want sugar.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Shelia said...

When I was growing up, sugar was outlawed in my house. I vividly remember eating the big lumps out of the brown sugar and even sneaking jello packets and pouring them into my mouth like they were pixie stix!

Now that I have 4 kids, I don't make it a big deal. Candy is everywhere and by making it an issue, I would be making it an ISSUE! We have enough to deal with and Candy certainly is at the bottom of the list!

I never take their candy away and they pick out their faves and end up throwing most of it away themselves. We always wants what is forbidden (like married Chris Meloni, purrrrr) and I have found that whatever I feed, grows!

With eating disorders abundant in our society, I refuse to feed the issue of candy with my kids! All 4 kids are happy, healthy, and only one tiny cavity in the crowd! Not too bad if I do say so myself!

It's not worth it! Doesn't meant she bathes in soda pop and lives on Sugar Daddys, but find that happy medium where she doesn't feel deprived! That way, you and she can enjoy brownies and ice cream at midnight without guilt and bond over chocolate. It won't be the sweets she remembers... it will be you! Lucky Mom, lucky girl!

6:22 PM  
Blogger Velma said...

I tend to be a "all things in moderation" parent, which means that the kids are allowed dessert after dinner and the occasional random treat.

Halloween is tricky for us because of my son's peanut allergy, so we limit trick or treating in the first place, then at home the kids swap out certain candies for "peanut safe" candy, which has the added bonus of usually being the less-coveted non-chocolate candy. After a couple days of extra treats, we are back to dessert after dinner if everyone has been cooperative, and I'm fine with that.

I realized a while back that my kids were getting far more sugar in their diet from juice than from sweets, so now I worry more about them drinking water than having dessert after dinner.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Overflowing Brain said...

All things in moderation, I say. I also have no children, which makes that a lot easier I assume.

My aunt, who has a 5 and 7 year old (and is 34 weeks pregnant with #3, gah) has always had a policy of not letting it be an issue with the kids. She won't bargain at dinner for treats, some nights they have them, some nights they don't. And while her kids LOVE candy, they don't expect it every night and have come to understand that it's a luxury to be enjoyed a few nights a week and certain seasons each year.

And also, might I suggest Mint m&ms? They're God's other gift to Christmas.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Syko - my mother restricted candy pretty seriously, and I'm convinced that it fed my obsession. Which is why I don't want to make a 'deal' out of it, but also, seriously, the girl is MAD about her freaking candy.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Oh, yeah, and we also have carb issues and butter issues. As in, the only foods she'll eat - other than tofu, cherry tomatoes and occasionally cheese (and, obvz, candy) - are bread and butter. She'll eat half a baguette and steal sticks of butter. (So, no, No Mother earth, she does not like vegetables :))

Keeping the diet balanced around here is totally hard.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Eva said...

My mom didn't restrict candy so much as we just never had it available so it wasn't an issue. I'd try cold turkey on this. After a few days honestly she might be over it--that's supposedly how sugar addiction works. Not that I've tried this approach on myself.

My two-year-old loves sugar, too, but she is a good eater in general, so I try just to keep her unaware if we own the stuff I don't want her to have. That said, she had a huge chunk of Toblerone with me today.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

It's so hard, esp. when they get older---my girls take dance lessons and after class, everyone gets a lollipop. Even the kids in the waiting room. The teacher has been doing this for 20+ years; I doubt she'd stop now.

But, I had to learn to adopt an "everything in moderation" mantra to my life b/c I once had an eating disorder. To rid my house of sweets would surely send me right over the edge. SO, we have some sweet things around and have some guidelines/rules: only fruit for dessert during the week; they can have a scoop of ice cream or such on the weekends after dinner. No candy before noon (that's the "post-Halloween" rule; they don't ask daily).

It's funny b/c they are pretty even-keeled about sweets now. Sweets don't really have the 'forbiddan appeal'. I even have to throw out cookies and cakes b/c they go stale before they are finished. But, man, they go through fruit like you wouldn't believe.

8:44 PM  
Blogger April said...

wish i had a good answer. hehehe. still loving the clockwork orange outfits.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

FOM - yeah, see, emilia just doesn't like fruit. but maybe if I got some of that caramel dip...

9:06 PM  
Blogger Cait said...

I was pretty much identical to Emilia: candy hidden everywhere. She's better at it than I was- ziplocs! So smart! My sister was the same way. She also had the bread & butter diet. One time when she was 2 or 3, we were getting ready to sit down to eat. My mom asked, "Where's Meg?" She was hiding under the table eating a stick of butter. She made it 3/4 of the way through.

Honestly, we were super picky eaters until we each studied abroad in high school. So hey, if she keeps it up, send her off with AFS!

When I have kids (and let's hope thats not for another 5 years), I plan to go with candy in moderation. Sometimes a reward, sometimes just because, sometimes because I want some candy and can't hide it from 'em.

What about putting the cereal into baggies and that being a trick? I would not have fallen for it but hey, maybe... Also just for a temporary solution, I think Frosted Flakes starting making a less sugary version.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

My mom heavily restricted sugar - no candy, no sugar cereals, no Oreos in the house ... only the occasional batch of whole-wheat chocolate-chip cookies. I STILL have a scarcity mentality when it comes to dessert - every time I see one I stuff my gob, whether I'm hungry or not, because it triggers that emergency-response: brownies are available! eat as many as you can! who knows when you'll see some again?

I was just reflecting on this today - how Pie will grow up in a very different atmosphere and we'll see how it turns out. She has my sweet tooth, for sure, but she's allowed to have Frosted Flakes for breakfast, and she's had a piece of Halloween candy after supper every night since Halloween. That seems to keep her tided over.

9:39 PM  
Blogger metalia said...

Hmm. See, we're in the same boat you are, so I'm gonna sit back and read the rest of your commenters' suggestions. :)

9:52 PM  
Blogger Mamalang said...

We are a moderation family. My husband was on a very restrictive diet as a child, and those foods are like crack to him now. Our church asks the kids to "tithe" 10% of their halloween candy to the church for the community cand jar. Keeps it stocked for most of the year, and reduces the amount of candy in the house.

But the butter? My daughter once said grace..."thank you lord for the butter. Amen." Nope, no butter issues here.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Gry said...

Oh silly you! Everyone knows that once you start with methadone you're never going back! :P

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i say sit her down with all the candy and tell her to eat it till she doesnt want anymore...my moms done similiar things to me to that effect.... its worked for me...i just dont know about candy...she's pretty darn smart tho, i dont think i ever thought of ziploc bags lol

But maybe if she gets sick from it she wont want it anymore

11:50 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

My oldest daughter was the same way...complete with the stashing. She also wouldn't eat much besides carbs and very little in the way of fruits and veggies.

We allowed 2 pieces of candy per day. I drew 2 pictures of candy pieces on a calendar and we'd mark off each piece as she got it.

As far as the other, she'll expand her food intake variety as she gets older. My daughter has and I used to get so worried about her food jags. Now she'll even ask for things like carrots sometimes.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 3-year old also loves candy. Doesn't like cake, cookies, muffins, pie, or any kind of home-made baked or boughten treat. Just straight up candy, or straight brown sugar or honey. She will try to help herself to straight butter if it is available, and will only eat bread and butter, if it is available. She was an excellent eater and has now become picky. So, I have no good advice except that is comforting that there are other 3 year- olds out there who act the same!

12:29 AM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

Climbing the kitchen counters in search of brown sugar?!

I hate to say it, but there's no hope. And I say that as I dig into a half gallon of ice cream with a soup spoon, so you know I understand.

12:59 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

First off, I love the way you wrote this. I found a link to your blog on a friends and have been reading every now and again.

I was a chocolate addict as a child, and grew into an addicted adult. I don't think its horrible to let kids have candy. They all go through a phase. I used to organize and count candy bars in line at the grocery store hoping my mother would let me have one.....I was a sad child.

I say go with it, sounds like a phase!

7:37 AM  
Blogger Erin, Nick and Merrick said...

OMG- ziplock bags of candy---that is priceless!

8:19 AM  
OpenID strawberriesandwhine said...

I disagree with those people who suggest going cold turkey, because, as you say, anything that is totally banned is sutomatically really interesting. And I also fear that if you do the whole Do chores / eat veggies etc thing, you are setting yourself up for non-stop negotiations. My suggestion would be that Emilia is allowed a certain amount of sweet stuff a week - one small bar of candy, a few sweets, whatever you feel comfortable with. That is hers to do with as she pleases. If she wants to eat it all in one go, her decision. But that is all she gets till the following week. The first few times, she'll likely eat it straight away, and whinge at you for more for the next 6 days. But I would bet that, in time, she'll realise the benefits of spreading it out throughout the week.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anon - if I let Emilia just go at it, full access, she would eat it 'round the clock, skipping all other food. And I'm pretty sure she could sustain that diet for some time ;)

9:20 AM  
Blogger Parent Club said...

My dd is a chocoholic. She'll admit to the addiction.

So 4 o'clock has become "sweet snack" in the house. 4pm is a crappy hour anyway - the arsenic hour really. So, sweet snack was born. "Yes, you can have a two-bit brownie. How many you ask? How many hands do you have? Two? Well then, you can have one for each hand. Not three - that would be silly - you don't have three hands!"

9:32 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Oh God, Catherine -- I used to eat baker's chocolate and brown sugar too. Yeesh.

Munchkin buzzed out on candy on Halloween night, but we let her think she had eaten it all, so after a major tantrum on the morning after, we were okay. Still, she loooooves sugar.

We give her one little bag, when necessary, of those 100-calorie snack bags of cookies (oreos, chips ahoy, shortbread). It's sweet, but it's not that super cloying sweet, and it's portion controlled. We're hoping her palate, um, becomes a little more attuned to sugar nuance.

Still. I was a secret brown sugar eater for years. What do I know?

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Wendy Hill said...

I still eat brown sugar... Mmm, yummy!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Oh, you know what? I wouldn't link getting candy to finishing vegetables or whatever. That makes nutritious food sound like a chore and then you'll battle over it, and broccoli's intrinsic appeal is not such that you want to freight it with any additional negative overtones.

But that might just be at my house ;-)

9:56 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

My daughter's dream job is jellybean caretaker. So yeah, I'd say we're in a similar boat.

Of course I am totally the wrong person to ask for advice since we've done the total wrong thing in allowing her to have dessert if she finishes dinner. But you know? Without that there'd be no dinner. She's like a camel, this one.

Can I also say how awesome that costume is? Maybe you should be calling it ultra-dessert or something.

10:12 AM  
Blogger kgirl said...

We allow one 'treat' after lunch, and just wear earplugs the remainder of the time.

But I do usually have a bag of chocolate chips around (for baking. and stuffing into my mouth by the handful.), and have trained mischa to believe that 3 chocolate chips are the ultimate haul.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

kgirl - just THREE? You are a NINJA.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Shonda Little said...

I've battled the same tragic addiction, it's plagued by two kids. The intervention was a calamity. Halloween is a real binge, too, so we let them go nuts that night and then throw it out as soon as they go to sleep. And we don't buy any for the house. They go nutso at Grandma's, but the its not that big a problem here. They know its not gonna happen at the house.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

You know, now that's a thought. (Parent Club's comment above)

4pm is tea-time right? What about instituting a tea-time for a small treat and "tea?" Wouldn't necessarily have to be at that time, heck I'm at work then, but something like that might make it a special, ritualistic, memory-building kind of thing.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Della said...

We had a sugar problem with my stepkids; when we had them all week and their mother/grandparents got them on the weekends, they would give the kids everything (sugarwise) that they asked for - and even things that they didn't. This, in turn, made us want to limit them more during the week, knowing that both kids were overweight and how bad it would be on the weekends.

As you can probably guess, this quickly broke down into a vicious cycle, with their mother tsk-tsking about how their evil other parents wouldn't ever indulge them, and then she'd indulge them even more "to make up for it".

After a few months of misery, we instituted a candy debit account system. We picked a number of treats per week that seemed reasonable. (I think it was 9 since we had them for 4.5 days a week... came out to about 2 per day.) ANY crazy sugary item counted from this list - including pop [pardon me, that's soda for the non-midwesterner], dessert, party snacks, and so on.

So, they were "in charge" of the sugar. If they wanted to blow it all in one day (never happened), they would have a miserable week! Granted, our kids were 7 and 8 at the time so they were a little more logical about it.

The nice things about this system are:

1) It sets a limit without removing sugar entirely.

2) It lets the kid feel they're in charge.

3) It teaches kids about savings, limiting portion sizes, reasonable limits in general, even fractions and proportions in a way (figuring out how to divide up their allowance to have an equal amount each day, or how if you get more on one day you get less on another).

4) It makes you feel less like a bad guy, and gives you logic on your side, when a day comes up without any candy. (She can't blame you if she made all the choices!)

It really did work for us.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Natasha Sawatzky said...

i love love love love chocolate!!!!!!!!! it has never stopped and never will! Even tho i'm allergic. I cant help it... its so addicting!!!!

i've eaten less and less as the years go by, just for the sheer fact off...the complete and utter Blah feeling.

We never had a restriction on candy when my siblings and i were little... not sure if it helped or what...i really have no advice, except that i would have to agree with not quitting it cold turkey, considering when you allowed her candy, she ziploc'd it away!!!

I honestly see no end to it! if you chore it, like one person said, it'll just get into negotiation after negotiation, if you healthy food it, she'll just associate it with candy, and likely negotiate that as well..

Maybe try talking to a doctor...or a child specialist on addictions?! *if there even is such a thing...sounds like there should be!!*

Or just see how it pans out?

11:12 AM  
Blogger Animal said...

We started giving Roslyn a little chocolate around her first birthday, and that has morphed into a stash of mini-M&Ms that we treat her from after dinner. She seems to have gotten the idea that "ca-cao" (she can't say "chocolate," and I was tired of her yelling for "cock!" at the table) isn't for breakfast, but she'll sometimes still try to pull a pathetic "Ms?" after she finishes.

I'm seriously of the mind that, fuck it, dude. We're 70s kids, which means we ate tons of candy at Halloween & every other time, and we had cereals that still had sugar in the NAME, like Sugar Smacks and Super Sugar Crisp and Frosted Flakes, which were "GrrreeeEEEAAT!" None of my friends are Type-2 diabetics from this, so I gotta think that giving Rozzle chocolate, even on a daily basis, ain't gonna hurt.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I should add - she's a skinny little ectomorphic fast-metabolism speed demon. We don't have a weight concern - but blood-sugar imbalance and displacement of 'good' calories ARE a concern.

All these suggestions are awesome, including the ones that suggest chilling out about it. I feel better just knowing that we're not alone ;)

11:18 AM  
Blogger Ursula said...

Hey, what does she think of fruit smoothies? My son isn't a big fan of either fruit or milk, but every day we mix up a big shake with bananas, frozen mangoes and berries, orange juice, soy milk, and sometimes some flax seeds (for fiber) or avocado (for good fats). Now THAT he loves. Again, I think lending a hand and watching it get made are part of the appeal for a toddler.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Della said...

Ursula - awesome idea. I know our kids will scrape around the outside of an apple and say it's done, eat half a banana, aren't too big on any kind of berries... But if I take frozen strawberries and grape juice and put them in a blender and call it a smoothie like the kind they get at Frullati, they will drink it all and ask to lick the blender-cup.

And these are BIG kids that technically understand about ingredients... But they're so excited to be using the blender and making something, they just don't think about it, and they don't notice that it's not anywhere near as sweet as the mall smoothies. It's a smoothie! It's here in my hand! There's MORE of it over there!

Reading some of the other comments also reminded me that another favorite at our house is pumpkin muffins (15 oz can of pure pumpkin, 1 box duncan hines spice cake [the betty crocker stuff tastes wrong in this recipe]... mix, put in muffin tin, bake at 375 for about 20 min, they're done when they bounce back after poking.)

It's got sugar from the cake mix, yeah, but you've also got vitamins and fiber like crazy from the pumpkin. In fact, for special occasions, we treat these as cupcakes and put frosting on them... so then when you get to have them for breakfast it really feels like you're getting away with something.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son was the same way and I made a deal with him that after a candy treat he had to brush his teeth. If he refused, I refused the candy. It worked genius! He was so tired of brushing he eventually figured it wasn't worth it.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

sugar free ice pops
bowl of berries with sugar free whipped topping and a few chocolate chips sprinkled on top

I also like to add the word "candy" to the end of every food...
"Hey, Annie, how about some turkey candy?"
"Jack, try it...it is meat loaf candy"
"Belle,would you like more spinach candy?"

Yeah, sorry..I am not a real help..but you are asking the woman who has a naked two year old holding a box of Christmas cookies at this very moment...

12:51 PM  
Blogger Jozet at Halushki said...

Wait...is your daughter dressed like the guy from Clockwork Orange?

You should try taping her eyes open and making her watch Barney being beat up while putting M&Ms in her mouth.

Just kidding. I don't know what to do. I've given up. I let them gorge themselves on candy when they have it and then blend Brussels Sprouts and inject veggies into everything else they eat.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like my 9 yr old daughter. we decided if less is around the house, then less for her to get & hide away. she's gotten quite good at finding candy & chocolate hidden around the house - got her sweet-tooth from me :) she gets treats after something healthy (meal or fruit) & has to brush after. but we have no control over her snack trading at school or when we are not around. sometimes we have fun with her, once we found a ziploc sandwich bag filled with chocolate chips, we replaced them with raisins giggling the whole time.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I find an introduction, without preamble, to unsweetened baking chocolate, tends to leave scars that temper the sugar craze, or at least begin a new stage of, "Let me test it with my tongue," before the characteristic inhaling of the candy at hand.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another spin on the fruit/ caramel sauce idea - melted chocolate or chocolate sauce to dip in. I don't know a toddler who doesn't like dipping things and if the only way to get the chocolate is on that strawberry then it's a means to an end isn't it?

My son is also a cheese addict, so, we cover everything in cheese. Broccoli and cauliflower baked in cheese sauce or grilled with grated cheese on them. Pizza's (we eat so many pizzas) that we top ourselves, he gets a sprinkle of cheese for every veggie he puts on. Want more cheese? Then stick another pepper on there kiddo. Home made pizzas are the answer to everything, I'm convinced.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

We had to go cold turkey at our home because Matt was having some major problems with hyper-activity.
Around that time we took him to his first dentist visit with pediatric specialist. They taught him all about sugar bugs. from that moment on he was scared of sugar.
They used the dissolving purple tablets to show him the sugar bugs.
We now buy that blue mouthwash.
He still loves his candy though

8:12 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Laural: Purple tablets? SUGAR BUGS? Now I'm scared of candy...

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reality is -- it isn't about the sugar.....or candy....it is about getting what you want by SCREAMING. Don't cave. It is okay to give her candy or sweets but it should be you deciding when. She isn't old enough to decide how much sugar is good for her.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Susanne and Corey said...

Great post! I can totally relate.

We have gone cold turkey--a few times. The problem with this approach is that the freakin' candy keeps coming back.

It's not like an illicit drug addiction which requires a complete change in lifestyle. Hopefully, once you quit, you're not in places or with people that have access to your drug of choice.

But sugar is EVERYWHERE. It never goes away.

I get my kid off it for a week, and they give them lollipops at school. And I know the teachers take silent glee in sending them home to us all wigged out and bouncing off walls, as revenge on the parents who put CANDY in their lunchboxes! Problem is they can't discriminate, so my kid comes home all buzzed up and wanting candy all over again.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Shawna said...

My daughter wasn't going to be allowed sweets until she was two, but a few months before then she was underweight and didn't much care for most dairy, so we allowed some vanilla ice cream from time to time. Now she's almost 3 and has treats a few times a week, but they're mostly (but not always) limited to home-baked (by my mother or myself with her "helping" us) goods and, in the summer, ice cream. She got a few pieces of candy all at once at Halloween, and at visits to the grandparents all bets are off, but the rarity is what makes it special.

Diet is important to us so we found a home day care that cooks food from scratch and doesn't give candy or junk food to the kids. I have a feeling that our bigger challenges are coming though, since we haven't had to deal with the food-at-school situation, and we don't intend to let our son have any sweets before two either, and that'll be hard when his sister is eating them.

But we figure, they have their whole lives to eat food that's bad for them, why not start them out right for the first couple of years? After all, our job as parents is to do what we think is best for our kids, not just what makes us popular with them, right? And what we think is best (within our family - your mileage may vary) is a mostly healthy diet with the occassional treat.

1:09 PM  
Blogger petite gourmand said...

I'm all about the sugar bribe.
If it works it works.
Bonus that they get a second set of teeth when the first set turn black and fall out before the age of five.

kidding..I hope.

Now, where's that Hello Kitty toothbrush?

Love the costme btw

4:48 PM  
Blogger Anissa Mayhew said...

Seriously, I have a JAR of candy sitting in my kitchen...my kids barely give it a second glance. If I put in something new or interesting, they'll go for a splurge, but otherwise, they really could care less. They know they can have it any time so they don't really care, and I use it to reward, so they get a little now and then anyway. You're really right that the more you fight it, the greater the allure and it becomes this great big freaking holy grail of all foodstuffs.

My mother in law? Perhaps she and Emelia can share a room at rehab...the screaming should be epic.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I have this problem, but for myself. But, seriously, what if you tried to replace it with good sugar - i.e. fruit. Find something that she really likes - for my daughter that would be watermelon, blueberries or clementines. Call them candy and let her have as much as she wants. I would bring home some type of new fruit - maybe a kiwi or something and tell her it's "candy" and let her have some...it's worth a try...

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Keep one type of candy - no variety. It will lose its appeal after a while. As long as she eats well at meal time, a piece now and then won't hurt.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

OMG! Maryn, too! Though - thank God - she never thought to stash the stuff. She's a serious rule follower, though, which is probably what saved us. I've discovered several things - 1. refined/processed sugar/flour/dyes/preservatives have a NOTICEABLE affect on the kids. This has just been confirmed by our Thanksgiving trip to my sister's house. Other than this annual trip, we tell the kids they are allowed to have occasional ice cream, good dark chocolate (preferrably organic), organic fig newmans, or stuff I've made for them with honey, molasses, or organic sugar, juice, etc. It works. Mainly we stick to the fig newmans as our treat. It's hard to lose your mind on fig newmans. And we've done a lot of talking about what happens to our bodies when we fill them with junk, which may not work for everyone, but does for Maryn. She hates to get sick.

12:57 AM  

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