United Healthcare Activate for Kids

School Wellness Initiative

To cheat or Not to Cheat

Read any weight loss or fitness magazine and you will stumble upon advice whether or not to have a cheat day (i.e. a day when you can eat anything you want). Even experts have a difference of opinion when it comes to cheat days, with some stating that if you want to eat something you should have just a little right away, while others are referring to a specified cheat day (often one day per week). In my opinion, the decision depends on the personality of the individual. For example, I love chocolate and ice cream. Should I have it every day? Definitely not! Unfortunately, I do not have the same self-control when it comes to chocolate as other people might have, so I avoid storing it at home (it will not last very long in the pantry or fridge)… However, I do not avoid it completely.

With so much focus on childhood obesity and what we and our children should eat, parents (in my opinion) sometimes try too hard and, as a result, restrict the kind of foods their children can eat. Studies have actually proven that restricting food can have an adverse effect on children’s eating behavior, and food restriction is associated with higher obesity rates among children. Instead, it is recommended that parents act as authoritative figures and role models by showing, in contrast to telling, the children what, and how, to eat. This is particularly important in younger children who often look to their parents as role models.

In our family, we try to focus on eating healthy (whole grains, vegetables, fruits), but our kids are not restricted from eating pizza and other things they may enjoy. Nonetheless, since we do not want them to eat it several times a week, we have designated Fridays as a movie and pizza night. The kids know that on Fridays they get to have pizza and either some chips or popcorn with the movie. As a result, they do not expect to eat it at other times during the week. For the past 4 or 5 years, we have also had ice cream on Sundays. Instead of keeping it at home, we try to go places on Sundays where we can eat a small bowl of ice cream. In addition to getting a delicious treat, we also get to spend some time together as a family; an occasion I relish more than the ice cream itself.

Every family does things differently and no single way works for everyone. However, I figured I would give you a sneak peek into our way of “cheating”.

Enjoy your healthy food and occasional treats!

/ Jessica
Posted: March 01, 2013 by Melodie Griffin

Melodie Griffin

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