Why I'm Not Asking Ruthie to Trade in her Candy for Clementines

Just in case you're only in the mood to read one sentence: the short answer is "because memories".

 Ruthie sorting candy from a parade this summer.

Ruthie sorting candy from a parade this summer.

Soooo many of my childhood memories have been formed around really good food. A ton of our traditions would be almost unrecognizable without food, trick or treating for example. In order to enjoy these food-based traditions rather than anticipate them with anxiety and a bag of tricks to "survive holiday eating", a healthy relationship with food is completely necessary.

As a dietitian, especially as an RD working in school setting like I always have, there's an expectation for me to totally villianize candy and other foods seen as bad by society. The need to label foods as good and bad starts young. During nutrition presentations to pre-k and kindergarten classes, students often raised their hands and told me with pride that they never eat ice cream because it's bad. They also sometimes raised their hands and forgot what they were going to say, then panic and tell me that their dad has glasses instead.

I have been partly to blame for this societal fear of certain foods. I've done radio interviews discussing creative ideas for trading in Halloween candy for stickers and toys. I've developed checklists of the "healthiest" candy (healthiest in this instance meaning lowest in calories....healthy DOES NOT mean low calorie - not proud of that article). I've shared "healthier" ideas to satisfy a candy craving (nothing is truly going to satisfy a Butterfinger craving other than a Butterfinger). I've done a TV segment where I drew a ghost face on a banana and pretended to be certain that kids would find this just as satisfactory as a candy bar. All of these ideas represent a fear of food that I totally (and luckily) do not share.

I was basically being a big ole liar. I LOVE mini Halloween candy bars, I sure as hell wouldn't want to trade them in for a clementine (although I love clementines too). I know from experience and from research that trying to squash a Butterfinger craving with an apple is going to lead us to find more and more options to fight that craving until we have eaten way more than we would have had we just had the candy.

I'm not planning on showing Ruthie that it's fine to eat an entire bag of Snickers, but I want her to know that Snickers aren't forbidden. I want to help her create Halloween memories like I was lucky enough to have. Since she is only 2, she will require a little help storing and dispensing her candy (she might even completely forget about it after a day or two). But helping kids understand at a young age that candy and treats are a part of a healthy life is vitally important to helping them have a healthy relationship with candy and treats later. There are no forbidden foods. There are no foods that will suddenly take us from great health to poor health. There are foods of lower nutritional value that need to be experienced regularly in order to lose their aura of mystery and allure that can lead to a cycle of restriction/overeating as adults.  


I want Ruthie to be able to sit down with a donut and eat until she is done. Sometimes she might take just a bite and leave the rest, sometimes she might lick the frosting off, sometimes she might eat the whole thing and ask for another. I want her to think of a donut simply as food, delicious food, but in no way forbidden or bad or "limited time only" or as a bribe used to eat something green. 

Halloween to two year old Ruthie isn't as candy centered as it might be when she's older, but I want to help her understand now that candy isn't evil, in fact, it's a pretty fun part of being a kid.


Toddler Yoga at Morton's Grove

Toddler yoga is real! 


I didn't really believe it was possible at first, i just sort of pretended to so some of you guys would come over and hang out with me. 


But it really happened! Most of the kids were around 2-3 years old, and they actually listened and participated! Except for Ruthie, she wasn't having it. I've been experiencing big giant major tantrums for the first time recently, and for the love of God PARENTING IS SO HARD. The instructor's sweet assistant asked Ruthie if she would like a feather. Ruthie was majorly offended and responded OF COURSE NOT! Maybe next time Ruthie girl!


April Thrift (yoga instructor for all ages and stages at iBloom) led the session, starting with a simple craft activity: assembling a yoga foot dream catcher (a little foot cutout with streamers and feathers attached).


Following the craft came a story with frequent breaks to incorporate yoga stretches. Toddlers are (can be?) so freakin' cute. April called out questions to them and they always had the craziest and cutest answers. When pulling on their pretend yoga pants, April asked "what color are your pants?". Little cutie Peyton shouted in answer "maybe just brown?!".


My goal with Morton's Grove is to become a resource for building healthy families with food + nutrition and fun events + programs that celebrate the whole baby (+ mama). This yoga sesh was my first attempt to wrangle some people into this dream with me. Thank you to everyone who was a part of our first toddler yoga. It means so much that you spent your Saturday with us! 


After everyone left, Ruthie spent hours doing tree (aka flamingo) and happy baby in the barn.  


Contact April Thrift at iBloom for more information on toddler yoga or to see her class schedule. 


Ruthie is 1

Ruthie's first birthday was last Friday, April 22nd and I still cannot believe she's one! When I was pregnant, I hated hearing how fast pregnancy would go. When Ruthie was born, like the day she was born, so many people told me to cherish it because it would go by SO fast and I hated hearing that too. Now that she is one, I hate that everyone was SO right because it DID go by that fast. CRYING FACE EMOJO.

Ruthie was born on Earth Day which is an amazing reflection of her tree-loving daddy. We had an Earth Day themed party on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. It was perfect, thanks so much to everyone who wished her a happy day. And I think I've calmed down a little bit in case anyone is in the mood to tell me how Ruthie will be 21 before I know it.