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Last week, Middle Girl contracted Pink Eye. When I told her we had to go to the doctor to get checked out, she was not happy. Unlike her big sis who happens to adore visiting the pediatrician, Middle Girl is decidedly not a fan. That said, she was a brave babe and we went. Our visit was quick and smooth (Thanks, Dr. G!) and we left with those magic little medicinal drops.

On the way home, I praised Middle Girl for being a good girl at the doctor. I promised that her itchy eye would feel better soon. And when she asked for a treat, I said what I usually say: Sure.

We stopped at a store and my girl pointed to a massive chocolate chip muffin in the glass case. I ordered said muffin, paid for it, and then handed it over once we were back on the street. {See the cuteness that is Evidence A above.} Even though it was 4pm and coming up on dinnertime, I let her indulge. Indulging meant having a few bites of the muffin top and then handing it back to me.

I do this a lot. And by this I mean giving my girls treats, often edible, for good reasons and for no reason at all. Sometimes, we have fruit snacks on the way to school. Sometimes there is a lollipop at breakfast. Sometimes there is Pirate's Booty right before bed. Sometimes, okay always, I ask my girls if they want a candy when they are hurt and if they stop crying to say yes I know they are okay. And then I pony up that promised piece of candy.

It's worth mentioning a few things before my usual barrage of closing questions: My kids are healthy. They are physically thriving and active, in the appropriate range for their ages on those growth charts the doctors go by. They are decent about eating a range of healthy food too - some fruits, some veggies, various breeds of protein, sometimes not even fried. Yes, they like their fries and hot dogs and pizza - they are kids after all - but they strike me (and my lovely pediatrician, mind you) as quite normal.

All of those disclaimers aside though, I wonder how my parenting in the nutrition department is affecting them. My hope is that by allowing them to eat anything - within loose limits - they will react as Middle Girl did with the muffin and just not think it a big deal. My hope is that because they are exposed to a host of food items, they are not going to become obsessed with taboo items and raid their friends' food pantries given the opportunity. My hope is that by being relatively liberal and laissez-faire in regard to these things, they will not develop "food issues" or "food anxieties," early on or maybe ever. My hope is that by not saying no over and over to certain things at certain times, by not forcing them to eat a certain amount at any meal, I am ensuring that eating does not become a stressful or fraught affair.

The truth though: I don't know. I have no freaking clue. I have no idea whether I am promoting a healthy attitude toward eating in my home. I don't know, but I do worry. I love the fact that I have girls, I do, but one of my biggest concerns is that these girls of mine are healthy and confident and not tormented by those things that torment so many of us women, things like food and body and beauty.

It's worth mentioning also before I publish and let the conversation commence that this is about more than food and health and nutrition. This is also about rewards, treats. How many are too many? If we are constantly rewarding our little creatures, do the rewards lose their effectiveness? If we are constantly rewarding our little creatures even with just little and yummy things, are we running the risk that we are creating spoiled little citizens?

Oh boy girl. Help please. (And be kind; diplomacy is appreciated in this neck of the bloggity woods.)

Are you more strict or mellow when it comes to nutrition in your home? How many treats are too many treats? If you are a mother to girls, are you particularly concerned about not creating food issues in your home? Would you do things differently if your child was deemed "too big" or "too small" by medical standards?

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