According to Merriam-Webster a treat is “an especially unexpected source of joy, delight, or amusement.” This would imply that such an item would appear rarely or at least, irregularly in daily life. It wouldn’t be an anticipated aspect of every day but rather a welcome surprise.
Now, how do today’s children define treat? It may be easier to tell you how they don’t define it. Eighty-two percent do not believe potato chips are a treat. More than half feel the same way about sweets, meaning that chips and candy are a regular part of their lives, tickling their taste buds often enough to be ranked with chicken.
What does this say about our and our children’s diets?
Chips are a junk food, loaded with grams of fat and sodium, two things that kids need but in moderation and from sources other than fried crisps. And candy, well candy is essentially packaged sugar that can offer a sweet reward for eating all of your vegetables or finishing your dinner, but clearly, it’s present more often than that. And if these two items are no longer viewed as something special, what is? What is left to be defined as a treat? Fruit? Vegetables?
Children need a diet that is dominated by healthy foods. They need to consume an adequate amount of all substances, including fat, from items such as meat, whole grains and dairy. This is not to say that treats should be eliminated from their diet. They should simply remain treats, bites of pleasure that are unexpected rather than commonplace. Redefine your child’s view of a treat; make it what it once was and what it always should be.