This year, I made a strategic error during the holiday season.
For this special time of year, I decided to let my kids indulge moderately in some sweet treats. They found chocolate in their stockings. They ate cookies at Grandma’s. We even made healthy homemade chocolate and marshmallows!
But to my 5-year-old, there’s no such thing as moderation. She cannot enjoy just “a little” of a sweet treat. The first taste fuels the desire for a second or third or fourth, till the carton is empty, the bar is demolished, the carton is poured out, yet she’s whining and begging for more. Her body is screaming for more sugar. When it comes to sweets, her body doesn’t seem to have an “off” switch.
Unfortunately, her body shows a remarkably low tolerance for sugar. I’ll spare you the details, but symptoms of misery follow closely behind what does in fact seem like a “reasonable” portion of a sugary treat. Moderation doesn’t work for her.
I want her to be able to enjoy an occasional sweet treat–especially for occasions like these–and moderation seems like such a reasonable approach. But it doesn’t work for her.
This shouldn’t surprise me because I’m the same way. Like my daughter, my body doesn’t seem to have an off switch when it comes to sweets. If I consume any sugar, my body will mercilessly beg for more. And more. And more.
When I finally eliminated all sugars including artificial ones from my diet, the cravings stopped. I don’t have a sweet tooth anymore. It’s so much easier to never eat sweet treats than to eat them sometimes. And I wasn’t surprised when the same strategy worked for my kids.
When I tell people I’ve chosen to forego sweets, they unfailingly chide me for my “extreme” approach. They think I’m depriving myself, and tell me moderation would be a much healthier–and happier–choice.
But that’s nothing compared to the reaction I get when I tell people our kids don’t eat sweets either! When I say that my kids don’t eat sugar, they are horrified. My kids are surely missing out on childhood/doomed to a life of depravation/headed for an eating disorder/just plain hungry.
We do make the occasional exception, especially around the holidays. But I tell you truly: I am nearly always sorry. Because for several of my kids (and for me), there’s no such thing as moderation.
Maybe your weakness isn’t sweets; maybe it’s chips or crackers or jalapeño poppers. Not everyone is necessarily happier abstaining, but if you consistently find yourself having a terribly hard time backing away from whatever your weakness is, you might want to think about whether you’d be happier skipping it altogether.
Just give it a try. See how you feel. And if you turn out to be a moderator after all, I have a wonderful chocolate recipe you can try.