Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Lollipop Guilt

Practically every day since Halloween (yes, really), I've heard some version of the following:

"Mommy, can I have a lollipop?"

Westley's first lolly, October 2010

We finally finished off the Halloween candy...last week. But the begging for sweets is far from over. (It's also far from new.) Despite my best intentions, I have raised a little sugar junkie.

Fortunately, he's also a little produce junkie. I can't take Westley to the Fruit Market without him grabbing up an orange or tomato or a bunch of carrots (with the tails, please). He's been known to slip a basket of strawberries into our cart when I wasn't looking. But he doesn't beg for fruit the way he does for, say, the beautiful vegan baked goods at PCC.

I'm the first person to admit that my parenting is far from perfect - and participating in Westley's early introduction to refined sugar feels like one of my biggest mistakes. I'm not a "no sugar ever" person, but I do take a lot of pride in feeding my family a variety of tasty, nutritious foods. Part of me thinks if I were doing a better job on the food front, Westley wouldn't prefer ice cream to lentils. Despite the fact that even as a picky(ish) three-year-old Westley eats a respectable variety of foods, I feel like I dropped the nutrition ball.

One of the things about raising a vegan child is that there's an awful lot of "no." No, not that bread. Not that treat. Not that restaurant. No, no, no. Add that to all the nos of parenting a preschooler, and that's an awful lot of "can't" and "don't." I end up feeling stuck in this push-pull of constantly saying "no" versus saying "yes" but feeling guilty for doing so.

I like to think that the guilt over saying "yes" to sweets makes me more aware, more committed to finding healthful things to offer at meals and snacks. But, in reality, it just makes me feel shitty. And I absolutely need to knock it off - or risk passing my own hang-ups about sweets onto my sweet boy.



Melissa said...

My mother didn't give us any sweets. At all. Ever. At least not until we were in high school. Last night, I ate half a bag of jelly beans for dinner. This may be an antidote, but my point is, if he was going to love sugar he was going to love sugar regardless of what you did or didn't do. But you are teaching him that cooking is not a dirty word, and that there are lots of wonderful things to eat that don't come in a bag. And you've taught him that he feels better when he eats healthy things. Even if he goes through a junk food stage, that is a lesson that will stay with him.

Jenny said...

Don't forget that humans are biologically wired to like sugar, either. That's the whole reason the things we consider treats are extra-sweet things.

candace said...

I don't know if you have taken him to a lot of birthday parties but the hardest thing is to tell your kid that they can't have cake or cookies or cupcakes because they aren't vegan. We were vegan for Emma's first 2 years and I hated telling her no at the hundreds of bday parties we went to, so sad :( It wasn't something that I thought about much when it came to vegan parenting but I thought it was the hardest. Even when I would bring something for her, she would still be so sad.

The sweets are not something to beat yourself up over, it sounds like you feed him very well.

Baby in Broad said...

Westley has had a few pieces of non-vegan wedding cake for that very reason, Candace!