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Mom vs. Dad: The sweets debate

Lisa Steinke, with Liz Fenton, is the co-author of the debut chick lit novel l'll Have Who She's Having and the popular Chick Lit blog chicklitisnotdead.com.

Sugar: Yay or nay?

Do you struggle to make nutritious, balanced meals and all the while your spouse is giving the kids sweets and soda without a second thought?

If you cringe every time your husband says yes to sugar and worry that you'll never see eye-to-eye on nutrition, take a look at some compromises that you and your spouse can make.


A common debate for couples

Jennifer, a mother of two from Philadelphia, and her husband disagree about sweets constantly. "I try to limit our kids (ages 6 and 8) to one piece of dessert or candy after dinner. He indulges them throughout the day and lets them drink soda at will."

So what should couples like Jennifer and her husband do to reach a compromise? We asked experts to weigh in and give us their two cents on what to do.

Moderation is key

Antoinette de Janasz, a mom and president of The Twooth Timer Company says, "Being a mom and in the children's dental products business, I know a thing or two about sugar. While it's important to limit sugar consumption, it's nearly impossible to eliminate it. Teaching our children moderation is the happy compromise for parents and their kids."

Elaine Wilkes, author of Nature’s Secret Messages: Hidden in Plain Sight makes the point that processed sugar and kids don't mix. "Why would parents want their kids to have depression, irritability, headaches, poor concentration, and gain weight? Well that’s what processed sugar does to the body and so much more. You could look at the plethora of studies, but just watching kids, especially sugar-sensitive kids, after they consume too much sugar and that’s proof enough."

How is sugar hurting your kids? >>

It's impossible to avoid the sugar trap

Kristen James, mother of two, and top-ranked cycling instructor and fitness and wellness expert says, "As a working mother living in New York, it's the 'sugar trap' I have to avoid on a daily basis. There's sugar everywhere, in schools, at kids' parties, friends' homes, during celebrations, etc., so it's pretty impossible to say you are a parent who doesn't allow your children to have any sugar."

How to cut your child's sugar intake >>

Eat clean during the week

So what can a parent do if she doesn't want her child consuming sugar on a daily basis? James has a suggestion that she implements with her own children. "I've found a great way to teach my 9-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter to make good choices and compromise with their food. Monday through Friday we eat 'clean.' My kids even know what that means! It means no processed sugar, no white carbohydrates (white pasta, bread, etc.) and zero candy."

10 Healthiest foods your kids need to be eating >>

But the weekends are fair game

James compromises with her kids and allows them to have more 'sugar freedom' on Saturday and Sunday, an idea that parents who can't agree on their child's sugar intake can implement. "I've taught them that Saturday night is the night for a dessert (the only dessert during the week is fruit occasionally), and both Saturday and Sunday there's a 'fun' food, or two, allowed. I send a message to my kids that you can enjoy a cupcake on the weekend because you were 'mindful' all week long about what you put in your mouth," says James.


Involve your kids

James also says parents should inspire their children to make better eating choices. "Actually eating the 'super foods' with your kids is one great way to motivate them by leading through example. Involving my kids with the food shopping and cooking at home has also really helped them get excited about the healthy foods they need to eat. With a good attitude about food, as an adult, you can teach your child[ren] about owning their choices."

Elaine Wilkes disagrees. "Why do parents have to meet in the middle of what kids want? Food governs your destiny. Parents force study habits but when it comes to eating junk, which ironically creates the kids to have foggy thinking, they need to meet the kids half way. I don't get it. If parents want to have their kids have better lives, why not make healthy and tasty alternatives."

More about children and healthy eating

5 Tips for encouraging kids to eat healthy
5 Fun ways to get kids to eat healthy food
Not unless you finish your dinner! Guidelines for dessert

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