Don’t feel guilty about all the sweets your kids have been eating over the holidays - it’s actually good for them, claims health expert

“They're building trust and body autonomy, and that serves their health in a lot of really important ways”

Child eating chocolate
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A health expert has urged parents not to feel guilty about the amount of sweet treats their kids have been eating over the holiday period, saying that it’s actually good for them to develop healthier relationships with food. 

With Christmas over and New Year's just around the corner, it's likely that meal plans have been thrown out the window in favour of easy meals and lots of snacking on delicious holiday treats. 

But while you may want to go into the New Year with resolutions to atone for that dietary splurge, as well as resolutions for kids and parenting resolutions like the plan to stop yelling at your kids so they're happier and more successful,  one health expert doesn't think that's a good idea. 

In fact, they say you shouldn't feel guilty at all about all the sweet treats, chocolates and hefty deserts your children have likely been munching their way through over the holidays. Why? Because it's actually good for them!

Child eating chocolate cake

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How can junk foods be good for kids, you may ask. Well, according to  Virginia Sole-Smith, a health journalist and author of the bestselling book Fat Talk: Parenting In The Age Of Diet Culture, more relaxed approaches to eating 'bad' foods can help children to avoid disordered eating and body image issues as they grow up. And New Year's resolutions about eating healthily, especially after the splurge of Christmas, sends them mixed signals about food and the enjoyment it does, or does not, bring. 

“I would think of holidays as a time to enjoy special foods you don't get to eat often, to be with loved ones, and to focus on this as a time for pleasure and celebration and being together,” Sole-Smith told Fatherly. “Holiday treats are not something you have to earn, and they’re not something you have to atone for afterwards.”

Instead, by letting kids enjoy the foods they want to eat, even if it is just over Christmas and New Year's, you're showing them the importance of listening to their bodies and making their own decisions. If you alongside them are indulging and enjoying yourself, they are less likely to develop the self-criticism for 'over-eating' that older generations often internalise. 

children eating chocolates

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Short-term, they're not eating a lot of vegetables and they're eating a lot of cookies,” Sole-Smith admits. But this weighs out in the long-term. “They're building trust and body autonomy, and that serves their health in a lot of really important ways.

"I think parents get really stressed because there are a lot more treats around during the holiday season. But if you're consistently taking this approach, you're going to see your kids regulating on their own terms, which will mean there will be times where they'll be a little more discerning about which treats they're really excited to have versus feeling like they have to eat everything because who knows when they'll get it again? 

"They'll be more likely to take what they're really hungry for, what really is going to taste good to them, and leave the rest."

For more family news, read parenting expert shares number one thing that destroys kids’ confidence, and why it’s completely normal to feel disconnected from your partner after having a baby, as well as relationship expert on ‘the right time’ to walk away from a relationship even when you have kids.

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.