To Treat or Not To Treat?

My personal and family sugar policy — and why I encourage you to write your own.

Chana Davis, PhD


Photo by Dennis Klein on Unsplash

To treat or not to treat? How much sugar is too much? We face these questions daily, yet often without the benefit of a compass to guide us.

In honour of Hallowe’en, I challenged myself to write down my sugar policy, along with the reasoning behind it.

While this may feel overly formal, this type of exercise can be extremely valuable, especially for those who feel a disconnect between the diet they want to consume, and the one they actually consume. A clear framework anchors us, and shifts us away from impulsive decisions that we may regret. It can also help minimize harassment from your kids!

At the core of my approach to sugar is a clear set of priorities. I seek to place long-term healthy habits front and center, while allowing for tasty and socially meaningful treats. I have the same priorities for myself and my kids, which makes it natural for us to follow the same sugar policy.

Here are the five pillars of my sugar policy:

*** Prioritize Daily Habits.***

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Habits are everything. The foods and drinks that we consume daily, or several times a week, matter a lot more than those on special occasions.

I am vigilant about the nutritional value of the foods and drinks that we consume regularly (more than once a week) but have a more relaxed bar for health on special occasions — including our weekly “treat day” when all health bets are off.

Hallowe’en, for example, definitely qualifies as a “special occasion”. Last year, I shifted from allowing a mere handful of candies to “have fun” for my bigger boy. To my surprise, the world didn’t implode… though his stomach almost did!

The hitch to this “daily” vs “special occasion” distinction is setting a reasonably high bar for what constitutes a “special occasion” — if every week is full of “special occasions” like soccer games, bookclubs, and happy hours, the lines between daily habits and…



Chana Davis, PhD

Scientist (PhD Genetics @Stanford) * Mother * Passionate about science-based healthy choices * Lifelong learner * Founder: Fueled by Science