Easter is a dieting parent’s worst nightmare – two months before the summer season is not the time to have a house crammed full of chocolate.
Even though my son has tried his best to work through it, my house still resembles the southern division of Cadbury World.
And I’d just managed to clear the chocolately decks after the Christmas overload too.
There’s been some promising research into the health benefits of chocolate over the years – we’ve seen some great headlines like ‘study declares chocolate is good for you’, ‘eating chocolate can stave off bowel cancer’ and my personal favourite, ‘chocolate may help keep people slim’.
Still, however you sugar-coat it (sorry) as parents we have to try to limit the amount our children consume and it’s not just chocolate we have to contend with.
Over the years, the volume of products in my house with sugar sitting proudly at the top of the ingredients list has become so out of hand that I’ve had to organise them into separate tins – one brimming with chocolate coins and Freddos, a second crammed with assorted biscuits and cookies and a third stuffed with jelly beans, Refreshers and tiny packets of Haribo. They have mostly accumulated from parties where I’ve felt any more might put his mood, as well as my own, over the edge of reason.
A tired child on a sugar come-down is a sight to behold. My son’s had some impressive frenzies – full limbs flailing, face scowling strops that would have sent the fiercest of dictators running.
But it’s hard to avoid when in western society good times are associated with sugar; cakes for birthdays, ice cream on holiday, chocolate at Christmas and Easter. Not only that, but it seems to be our way to reward and bribe with sugared promises – if you tidy your room/do well at school/be a good boy then you can have something laden with sugar that will then make you act like a complete brat. One or two sweets as a treat can all too easily get out of control as the sugar hits their little veins and they turn into tiny terrifying demons, demanding more.
While I was pregnant, I naively thought I would bring my child up without all that unnecessary sugar in his diet. I should have known that would never happen with grandparents who used to serve up banana and sugar sandwiches.
Still, everything in moderation. Besides, I worry that if I banished it completely he would only go off the rails as a teenager – hiding bags of Demerara under his bed.
I didn’t have a sweet tooth before I became a parent and I felt I ought to change my ways, if only for the sake of his oral hygiene.
Now I often catch myself raiding the tins while I’m cooking dinner, stashing them back in the cupboard if I hear him coming, afraid of being caught in the midst of my sordid behaviour with grains of sugar all around my mouth. Come to think of it, maybe it’s my teeth I need to be most worried about.