How are you doing with the Valentine’s Day candy?

Do you or your family:

A) Avoid it all all costs

B) Wait until 2/13 to buy eight million bags because FOMO

C) Enjoy some most days because PINK

As a young gymnast, my teammates and I we were told not to eat sugar.

Basic human behavior lends itself to wanting things that are “off-limits”. Part of learning to moderate fun foods like Valentine’s Day candy is to keep it around frequently enough that it loses its luster.

I go out of my way to keep chocolate, a batch of cookies, and ice cream in my house. This lessens the temptation to “eat all the things” after you get tired of them being “sworn off”. I do think there is some validity to not keeping “too many” fun foods in the house at one time, as it is easy to take a bite of all of them and not feel fully satisfied. There’s no need for 5 desserts, 3-4 kinds of chips, multiple fried foods, etc. to all be available at once. It’s highly individual for you, but in terms of child and young athlete feeding this is a good guideline.

Incorporating “fun foods” into lunches, snack time, or dinner help to lessen the “off limits” feel to these foods.

I also, personally, do not feel that having a cookie or other “fun food” before sports practice (or a workout!) will cause you to “bonk”. Many of the sports bars or touted “healthy snacks” have just as much sugar, fat, little fiber as a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk. Yes, we should encourage nutrient dense foods anywhere we can as these are the harder ones to “sell” to a young athlete. But, a young athlete that putting “bad fuel” like a cookie into their “tank” before practice will cause them to have a bad practice is wrong.

For example:

Two (normal sized) chocolate chip cookies + 8 oz. 2% milk= 30g carb, 10g protein, 280 calories

Nature Valley Granola bar (2 pieces) + 8 oz. 2% milk= 38g carb, 12 g protein, 300 calories

As you can see, I’m not going to stress about which one is “healthier”.  And I’m certainly not going to support that the cookie will make the athlete “crash”. You need quicker carbs (aka “simple”, “refined”) to get into the muscles (and cross the blood brain barrier). Besides, too much fiber and you’ll slow down the carbohydrates actually crossing the intestinal glucose/fructose transporters….

I digress. Long story short, enjoy some Valentine’s day candy as well as your veggies.


If you’re not sure where to start with offering “fun foods” out of fear of them becoming “out of control”, let’s work together to find balance for you and your athlete.