“My 10-year old daughter is a bit overweight.  I make a major effort to pack healthy lunches for her, but the challenge is that I can’t resist including some junky stuff (chocolate Kisses, Twix bars, marshmallows, cookies) in her lunchbox.  And this isn’t because my daughter asks for it; it’s because my own mom used to pack me sugary snacks to cheer up my days.  I have such fond memories of those sweets, that I feel badly not packing something special for my daughter, even though I know it’s not good for her.  Next week, it’s back-to-school and I want to start the school year off right by packing a healthy lunch without the junk.  Help!”  — Crazy for Candy Mom

Crazy for Candy Mom, you are right on track: firstly, by being aware that you don’t want to repeat this junk habit, and, secondly, by starting off the back-to-school season with good habits, which will help ensure that they last throughout the school year.  It sounds like it’s time to start a new lunch-time ritual for your family.  Treats don’t have to come in the form of food.  If the goal is to brighten up your daughter’s day, write a fun and encouraging note (my dad did this for me everyday and I loved it!), or include a game with her lunch.  This should make her smile even without a drop of sugar!  Or, instead of candy, try serving a new fruit each day for a week.  Plenty of people, young and old, like to end their meals with something sweet, but why give kids cake when most of them go nuts over watermelon?  Sugary dessert isn’t forbidden, but there’s no need for it to be in the lunchbox everyday.  Try our Chocolate Ladybugs recipe, which may be a good compromise.   Finding an alternative that your daughter loves will go a long way toward keeping her healthy and happy and, as a mom, will give you peace of mind, too!

Credit: Ted Axelrod

– Stacey Antine, M.S. R.D., founder and CEO of HealthBarn USA

Do you have a confession to share with Stacey?  Want to learn how to improve an unsavory habit?  Send your stories our way to [email protected], and Stacey will help!

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