I know this sounds counter productive, but let me explain. We don't usually have chocolate lying around the house, except at holidays. We bake stuff like apple pie and banana bread a couple times a month when we want sweets, and sometimes we buy ice cream, but we don't drink pop or buy packaged snacks very often. My kids are quite thin (like their dad) and healthy, so I don't mind if they have treats, but their Chubby Mommy can't turn down a granola bar (which is really a candy bar with oats in it), so it's best not to have anything like that around.
But yesterday, when I took the 11 year old to Costco with me, we saw a bag of "Hershey's Minis" chocolates that looked mighty tempting. Little tiny Reese's (yum), little Hersey bars, Kisses, and baby Kit-Kats wrapped in Easter-ish foil. Five pieces of candy = one serving and 190 calories, it says on the back.
So my girl mentioned that her brother put candy on the shopping list, as if maybe that would help me say yes to the Minis. She had put "blueberries, strawberries, good bread and a butler named Huston," on the list. She's been wanting a butler for years, but we haven't been able to afford one, or find one, especially one named Huston. Everyone likes to put a little wish on the grocery list, though.
Mom buying candy on a random Sunday is almost as wishful as mom hiring a butler for the girl.
"Well, we don't need candy," I said. Of course not. No one needs candy, or red wine for that matter. Then I had a sudden brainstorm. "But maybe if we all eat more fruits and veggies, we could treat ourselves with candy?" Oh yes, she thought that was a grand idea.
Here's the thing about everyone who lives at my house: we all like fruits and vegetables. We really do. The kids eat broccoli, spinach, beans, salad, apples, grapefruit, pretty much anything, really. Except for asparagus, which is weird, but, but that just means more for mom and dad.
Even the dog loves fruit. She sits behind the kids while they're at the breakfast bar, randomly "giving paw," just in case someone looks back and wants to slip her a berry or a piece of banana. You never know, if you're a dog. It's good to try, sometimes it works.
So if we like all that healthy stuff, and it's not a big fight to get the kids to eat fruits and veggies, why don't we eat more of them without resorting to bribery games?
I'll tell you why: laziness. If something's in the fridge and needs to be remembered and washed and maybe cut, and sometimes cooked? The kids will just grab a string cheese or some bread if they're in a snacky mood instead of making a salad. Except for our 14 year old vegetarian. She eats about 5 tomatoes a day (we think someone should do a study on her to see how she turns out at age 50.)
But anyway, back to the game. Here are the rules, if you want to try this at home:
- Keep a piece of paper in the kitchen with your name on it. Write down the three fruits and three veggies you eat during each day. If you eat 6 fruits and veggies, you get 5 mini candies. You can eat more than 6 fruits and veggies, but only 5 candies total.
- You're on your honor. Mommy is not in charge of your food, and you'll feel bad if you cheat (my kids are old enough to know guilt.)
- You can eat the chocolate whenever you want, but if you pace yourself, you won't be stuck with 6 servings of fiber at dinner. So you should probably eat some of your 6 at breakfast, and at lunch and for after school snack. Then you'll just have a few to eat at dinner.
- A serving is as big as your hand. This isn't exact, and some of these people have small hands, but this keeps everything easy, and I didn't want to get into "why do I have to eat more than him?" arguments. Obviously, an orange or apple or tomato can just be a serving.
- If you're full, you don't have to force down the fruit or veggies, but don't throw a bunch of food away, it's a waste of money and sort of like cheating. You can mark down "halfs" and you can leave raw fruits and veggies on your plate for a few hours and come back to them. Berries and broccoli don't care if they sit on your plate. They'll be waiting for you when you get back. Also, half eaten brown apples aren't rotten, they've just been sitting there waiting for you. Help them. Eat them.
So, it's been a full day since we started the game. And guess what happened? It's working. It's 3:30, and my 11 year old just announced she's eaten her full 6 already, so now she's going for some of her candy. She's going to save the rest of her candy for after dinner. And they're having fun with it, since it's a game.
But they won't let mom and dad cheat, even though we tried to. They were appalled when they caught us sneaking mini Kit-Kats last night at bed time. "if you don't want us to cheat, you can't cheat!" they exclaimed. And of course they're right. We should clean our room more, too, since they have to, in theory; we don't have Huston yet, after all.
Damn. I think I've boxed myself into something here that I can't get out of. I found myself ready to sneak a mini-Reese's (yum) but went for the apple instead, since I needed to mark it on my list.
However, I did tell my husband that I was going to count my dinner wine as a fruit.