We’ve all heard it. “Eat two more bites of peas and then you can have dessert.” “If you finish your book report I’ll take you out for pizza.” “Only kids who stand quietly in line get to eat popcorn.” Or maybe you’ve said, “you kids have been naughty today – no one gets soda. Only water or milk.” It’s easy to say things like this when trying to get kids to behave.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and many other organizations clearly state that parents and caregivers should not use food for reward or punishment. Why? Giving unhealthy food as a reward teaches kids to prefer junk food over healthy foods. It also teaches kids that's it's ok to eat a reward food even if they aren’t hungry. Kids who grow up with these habits can turn into adults who reward themselves with food. Taking away treats as a form of punishment can lead to over-eating food when it is available. If a child is concerned that misbehavior could result in a missed meal, they may start over-eating at other meals out of concern for going hungry. While a food-based reward or punishment might work in the moment, it’s important to think about the future. Think - how do you want your kids to eat 10 or 20 years from now?
As adults, we can fall into the trap of rewarding or punishing ourselves using food too. If we have a good day at work we might say we “deserve” some ice cream. For some people, over-eating at a party might result in punishing oneself by saying ‘no desert for a week.’ A lot of the time, that restriction results in obsessing about or craving the food that was banished. It’s ok to enjoy special foods as part of a celebration – of course you can enjoy cake and ice cream on your birthday! But less healthy foods shouldn’t be used as a reward – they’re something to enjoy occasionally simply because they are delicious – not because we “deserve” them.
Great non-food rewards for kids include a trip to the library or park, a coloring book, pencils, or stickers. Even extra reading time or listening to favorite music work well for some kids. For adults, you might put a few dollars into a vacation fund, buy your favorite magazine, or treat yourself to a long, luxurious bath.
It might be hard, but changing your approach to avoid using food as reward or punishment can help everyone lead healthier lives.
Source: Let’s Go
New kitchen skill: homemade corn tortillas
Tacos are one of my all-time favorite meals. I especially love street-style tacos made with shredded pork and fresh salsa. Unfortunately, many store-bought tortillas are often full of preservatives, some of which I avoid (such as parabens). The more I paid attention to the ingredients in my tortillas, the more I was convinced to try and make my own. Check out this recipe and give it a try! Oh, and I highly recommend you purchase a tortilla press if you're serious about this tortilla making business. It's more work with just a rolling pin. Get started at allrecipes.com!
Lindsey Hays, RDN, LN
Lindsey Hays is licensed as a Nutritionist/Dietitian in the state of South Dakota. While she holds a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN or RD) credential which is nationally recognized by the Commission on Dietitian Registration, she is not licensed to practice as a nutritionist or dietitian in states other than South Dakota. She is a Certified Dietitian in the State of Washington. The information on blackhillsnutrition.com is not intended as medical advice. The content of this site is not intended to provide or replace medical advice, nor should it be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional before changing your diet or medications. For full disclaimer statement click here.