Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sweet Tooth and Sugar Cravings - Inate Or Developed?

I was just reading a blog post over at the Mama Courage blog in which she talks about doing her best to introduce nutritious and healthy food to her child.  Having a sweet tooth herself, she feels guilty tucking into cupcakes and chocolate in front of him.  For the moment, he seems happy to accept a banana, or a yoghurt treat in lieu. She asks the question 'when is a good time to put down the banana puree and succumb to chocolate buttons?'
It is an unusual thing to say, but maybe she won't have to.  Take my son, for example. He is now four. He loved bananas, yoghurts, rice cakes and diced fruit as treats when he was younger. He still loves them to this day.  He wouldn't thank you for a bar of chocolate or an iced cupcake.  He likes only plain biscuits and plain ice cream. He would have a bite or two of something chocolatey but that would be it.  Even when his Grandfather forces chocolate buttons and the like upon him, he just says he doesn't like them. His Granddad thinks him very odd as he is the only one of his twenty something grandchildren who refuses to eat them.  He even handed back his Easter Eggs last year!  


From what I can see, usually, it's when the child starts being offered sweets and chocolate by other people outside the household.  Grandparents and other relatives may be the first culprits here.  Mixing with other children who are allowed chocolate and sweets as a matter of course can also do it. The blogger says that she declines the treat on his behalf and that some people are incredulous at this.  She says that her son is just as  happy with fruit or yoghurt. It seems that the delayed introduction of  processed sweet stuff isn't impacting on his happiness or development so, she asks, why would they want to hurry it?

Why indeed? An acute sweet tooth can cause problems that will extend from childhood into adulthood. It can spark off a lifetime of weight and dental problems.  I was from a generation where it was deemed acceptable to have sugar sandwiches in your lunchbox! It was a cheap alternative the child was guaranteed to eat and yoghurts and rice cakes weren't on the menu way back then. I feel that this is where my addiction to sweet things started. I am now in my forties but I still battle to stop at one or two biscuits when I open a packet. I  still binge eat on sweet things and my weight goes up and down on a regular basis.Thankfully, my son doesn't take after me in this respect. People think it odd that he refuses chocolate but he just didn't get the sort of things that I did as a child.  I also think I may have overdosed on chocolate when he was in my womb and that helped to put him off!



What do you think?  Is a sweet tooth something that you are born with or is it something that is developed? Are yoghurts and bananas just as likely to cause sweet cravings as sugary processed treats?

17 comments:

  1. I have to say, I think it depends on the person. I have three kids and we've fed them all the same. We offer them the same foods but one will go straight for the cookies while the other will go straight for the cucumbers. I think anyone can be swayed to some sweets from time to time but in the end, I think it boils down to personal preference.

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  2. I always found my control evaporated the more they got out in the world. Other kids lunches on picnics. School. TV. As they are exposed to more, they develop a curiosity. Sometimes they venture. Sometimes they don't.

    Joys of parenthood. Out of three, two eat very well now they are grown -- and cooking. Will try anything, but not much in the way of sweets. Another, could care less. He just gets hungry.

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  3. It's both. We are born liking sweet things. Sweetness is how we used to tell ripe things from poisonous things way back in the cave man days. But, of course back in the cave man days that sweetness came from fruit, not from snickers bars so we could keep that all in check. Really how many bananas can one person eat? When my kiddos were little I fed them very healthy knowing that as they get older they will have a bit more junk in their diet. So I considered this providing them with a good base line. Now my oldest is a teen and is good about food choices. Knowing that not every food is an everyday food.

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    1. I like that 'not every food is an everyday food.

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  4. Fsmum just saw this thank you so much for the mention! It's a really interesting debate on nature/nuture, I think the generation difference you describe certainly influences the attitude towards sweet things, and the fact that we have a lot more to choose from today in terms of snacks. Fingers crossed my son react to food the same as yours has so far! In the meantime I'll be keeping the biscuits on the top shelf :)

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  5. It certainly is an interesting debate. We probably are all born with with a bit of a sweet tooth but mine was definitely exacerbated in childhood!

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  6. Thanks for stopping by so i could find your lovely blog. Sweet tooth - I def think its something you either have got to you haven't. i can have loads of choccy in the house and not touch it, my husband devours the whole lot! I love stodgy nursery foods and steamed puddings though with custard.

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    1. I am like your husband! I would devour the lot! Thankfully, my little boy is not like me. So far!

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