If you're an adult with food addictions, and these childhood feelings resonate with you, becoming aware of this pattern is the first step toward breaking it.
But if you're currently a parent, there are also a number of things you can do now to help prevent your child from going down this path. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Mark happy occasions with fun, healthy food.
At your own kids’ birthdays, aim to create wholesome yet beautiful and delicious food. Use brightly colored fruits and vegetables, create low-sugar treats, and serve juices full of veggies instead of soft drinks.
Overall, place the focus of the celebration on the activities and the joy in spending time together rather than on the food.
2. Choose gifts and rewards that are more meaningful than sweets.
Give your children love, rewards, or consolation with gestures of time and care instead of sugar.
When you don’t have time for one-on-one outings, give books, games, art supplies, or sporting equipment. They'll likely even appreciate those more than sweet treats.
3. Explain your food choices to your children.
When your kids go to other kids’ parties, don’t try to prevent them from joining in with the festive food — no one enjoys feeling like the odd one out.
Instead, be honest and open in explaining why you choose different food at home, and let them know that the odd unhealthy meal is okay.
4. Tell family members and friends about your philosophy.
Explain to your loved ones why you aren't celebrating or rewarding with sweets, so everyone's on the same page. Ask them to bring non-food gifts or healthier options when they visit for the holidays or attend a birthday party.
Most of all, remember that you're not depriving your child — you are giving them the gift of long-lasting health and emotional freedom.
What could be a more loving gift than that?