“Include treats in your diet occasionally.” Is there a more useless dietary recommendation?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the idea that we eat different foods in different amounts. That’s the concept behind the principle of proportion.

I’ve long argued that the USDA should set guidance about how much crap we can all consume. Read A Cookie a Day…

As far as I can tell, though, no one eats junk occasionally.

Unless by occasionally you mean every day. Sweets and treats: candy, cookies, chips, chocolate milk…

Teaching kids to juggle junk is one of the most important lessons they need to learn. The older kids get, the more junk they eat.

  • 10% of 2-8 yeaar olds consume 100 calories or more from candy each day.
  • 22% of 9-18 year olds consume 100 calories or more from candy each day.

So kudos to the National Confectioners  Association—never thought I’d say that— for at least trying to define moderation.

Yes, I know they have ulterior motives. They want people to think it’s OK to consume candy. And they’d like it if everyone thought it was OK to consume candy on a regular basis. But let’s put that aside for a moment. There’s still value in thinking about this issue.

Two important questions: 1) How often should you consume sweets and treats? 2) And when you consume those treats, how big should they be?

Research published recently in the journal Nutrition Today, and sponsored by the National Confectioners Association makes the following recommendation.

These are recommendations for adults, not kids. (Sorry, the article didn’t include kids, but you get the idea.)

Examples of Daily Options (50-100 calories/per day)

Even kids eat way more than this.

15-25 small jelly beans? 2 bite-sized PB cups…aren’t those just appetizers? 

Examples of Weekly Options

Whatever frequency and portion size you think is right for your kids…TELL THEM ABOUT IT.

  1. Proportion isn’t something you kids can just pick up.
  2. The more arbitrary the eating world is, the more likely your kids are to fight with you. Read Surprise! Surprise! and You Can’t Make Me Eat It!

Every candy moment is a choice NOT to eat another kind of treat.

Let your kids choose betwen candy and…

  • cookies
  • sweetened yogurt
  • juice
  • graham crackers
  • Nutella
  • the list goes on.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Hornick, B., R. L. Duyff, M. M. Murphy, and L. Shumow. 2014. “Proposing a Definition of Candy in Moderation: For Health and Well-Being.” Nutrition Today 49 (2) March/April: 87-94.