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Are there treats in your house right now, hidden away where the kids can’t find them?

A bag of chips. A supply of Oreos. Ice cream in the very back of the freezer.

How’s that working for you? Has your treat stash become the object of a continuing scavenger hunt at your house? You hide things away. Your children figure out where they are and then gobble them all. You buy more and hide things again.

Like little Sherlock Holmeses, your children can figure you out. They’re wily and determined. No treats are safe, no matter what you do. And most of all those treats are not safe from you! Are they?

So here’s an idea, straight from Katherine Tallmadge, author of Diet Simple. Tallmadge suggests you control the environment not the treats. Create an environment in which everything edible is available for eating. Take the thrill of the chase out of the equation and hide things in plain sight, at kid-eye-level in the pantry and the fridge.

This means, of course, that your treats are both delicious and good for you. The whole reason why treats get hidden is you know they’re junk. So why are you buying junk?

Parents buy junk food because a) they believe children want it and b) they believe it’s cheap.  But here’s the secret: children eat what’s easy. If what they think they want isn’t available, they’ll eat the next best thing that is. Retrain their taste buds by eliminating completely all the junk you’ve been buying and replacing it with stuff that’s tasty, fun and good for good health.

How about…

What’s holding you back? What’s going through your mind right now? Are you thinking this is too expensive? Are you thinking this is too hard?

When a package of store-bought cookies is at least three dollars and a bag of chips runs about four bucks, and when your kids and their friends can polish one or the other off in a single sitting, it’s silly to think that a bag of apples for the same price isn’t a good deal. It is. That bag of apples will last an entire week, no problem. A bag of popcorn. A pound of cheese and some plain crackers. The problem isn’t price and it isn’t the level of difficulty. What’s stuck is your brain.

For the good of your health and your kids’ health, rethink the treats. Instead of hiding treats, celebrate them.


© 2014, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Ask for Dr. Anderson’s new book, Parenting: A Field Guide, at your favorite bookstore.