A friend of mine posted photos on Facebook of her son's Easter experience. In his Easter basket he got colored hardboiled eggs, a stuffed bunny, some little toys, and an energy bar. Another picture is captioned, "Don't feel too bad for him, I did let him hunt for plastic eggs filled with stickers, carob chips, yogurt raisins, almonds, and dried fruit." I'm sorry? That makes me feel even worse than if he got no "treats." Have you TRIED carob chips? I guess they'd be okay if you've never had chocolate, but c'mon! They're gross!
I understand why she's doing it. She wants him to be healthy and have healthy eating habits. That's great. But he's three, maybe four. What happens when he goes to school? Is he going to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to eat cupcakes, but would you like some of my soynuts" when kids bring treats for their birthday celebration? Might he feel left out when everyone else is buying dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and tots and he's eating celery with (all-natural) peanut butter?
Far be it from me to say she's doing it wrong, but I will say that that isn't a method that I intend to use. By making candy a "never food," you just make it that much more appealing. You never want a food so much as when you can't have it. (Including solid food; poor FH and his gaping wisdom teeth holes has been dying for something to chew.) I would much rather treat candy and junk food as "sometimes" foods, that they're special treats we only have once in a while and not the source of all evil that we never ever touch. Besides, sometimes I want to eat them, too!
And then what happens when he has the freedom to make choices for himself, like at school? Or when he becomes a surly teenager? He'll go drunk on the freedom, I tell you! Or maybe he won't. But I'd rather teach my kids about self control and moderation then trust them to function in the real world. Besides, a Cadbury Creme Egg once a year isn't going to kill anybody.