Question: I serve only organic, healthy food at home. Recently, another parent told me that when my son’s there on a playdate, he can’t get enough sweets and junk food. Am I doing something wrong?
Answer: A child’s attraction to sweets doesn’t mean that his parents are depriving him of something at home. Serving healthy, organic food is a wonderful nutritional example you’re setting for your child, and there’s no need to compromise on this goal. Despite all of our best intentions, it seems that children (and some of us older kids, too) have an innate sweet tooth, which makes it especially hard to ignore tasty treats when they’re right in front of us.
On the other hand, I also don’t believe you need to take an all-or-nothing approach to sweets. Having an occasional treat at home might actually lessen the attraction when children are faced with something new and unique. I do think we should strive to present healthier sweets–those made without high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and artificial dyes. If your son is eating healthy meals and snacks most of the time, having a treat once in a while shouldn’t be a problem. This could also be an opportunity to gently engage the other parents in healthy-snack discussions; sometimes it’s just a matter of education to help your playdate connection green their pantry a bit.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, one of the first green, integrative primary care practices in the U.S.
Have a question for Dr. Rosen? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.