In an effort to control his sweets habit, my husband recently decided he would only eat ice cream when it was offered to him by the universe – or more conveniently, when it was offered to him by a real, live, human being.
In other words, he would stop being his own dealer.
He also decided he wouldn’t limit his rationing to ice cream. Cookies, chocolate bars, donuts, cake, brownies and Starbucks’ chocolate-covered grahams were all subject to the new regulation.
He called the arrangement Todd’s Law.
Todd’s Law is a brilliant device for creating a balanced diet – one that is dominated by truly healthy Growing Foods, not marginal or junky fare.
In my opinion, getting the ratios right is harder than teaching kids to eat veggies. It’s way more important too.
When my daughter was little, I stared using this approach with Goldfish crackers, sweetened yogurt, and any other kind treat snack or dessert. (Maybe this is how my husband thought of the idea! Are you sensing some marital competition?)
There were a lot of benefits to not stocking this stuff at home, but allowing my daughter to have them whenever they were offered:
- My daughter ate treats about the right amount of the time. Read It Doesn’t Matter WHAT You Eat.
- I always got to be the good parent because I never had to deny my daughter’s desires … outside the house. (But I did have to make an extra effort to share our snacks so we didn’t become known as mooches.)
- My life was easier because I wasn’t constantly fighting against the forces of nature. Read 10 Ways Improving Your Kids’ Snacking Will Improve YOUR Life.
- My daughter developed a habit that still shapes how she eats today.
For my husband, relying on Todd’s Law means he does not have to keep track of how often or how many sweets and treats he devours, and he never has to say “no” to a delicious offer.
It also means he’ll keep the system going. Todd’s Law is simple, and simple is good because my husband is a nutritional slacker — just like I am! Read Slackers Rule.
- He’s a lot happier. Instead of feeling guilty about eating so many donuts, he gets to feel great about how well the universe is looking out for him!
- He has a lot more brain space. Now that he doesn’t have to keep track of his treats, he can remember more things (such as what he was supposed to buy at the grocery store).
- His diet is better because it’s more in proportion.
When my daughter used to complain, which she did, I told her my strategy and after awhile, she knew that:
1) She would never be denied treats when the universe (AKA other parents, relatives, schools…) supplied them.
2) Proportion was the key to a healthy diet.
She learned another thing too: The universe provides a lot of treats. (This week she’s already had plenty of ice cream, chips, popsicles, and candy.)
But Todd’s Law only works if your home diet is up to snuff.
I can’t say that I never provide treats and sweets at home, because I do. But I can say that what we’ve settled on is a basic habit of feeding ourselves properly, and letting the rest take care of itself.
Now, whenever my husband finds himself tempted to dash out to the store for some cookies, or when he starts hovering by the window, straining to hear ice cream truck bells, he reminds himself of Todd’s Law. He breathes a little easier, content in the knowledge that the universe will (probably quite soon) offer up a quick fix.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~