There has been a lot of press recently about children obesity levels rising and whilst the focus is on how shocking the statistics are there is little blame being apportioned to the parents. After all if our nation's young children are overweight and unhealthy as a result of their diets that is ultimately our fault as primary caregivers. After all a 5 or 6 year old is not doing the weekly shop, planning the meals or even going independently to the shops to buy sweets and chocolate.
With our children it is our responsibly to make the right decisions for them. We are their advocates and we are letting them down if we don’t take this role seriously. I think as a society we are so used to food being used to treat our children that it gets forgotten who is benefitting from this process. An ice cream here, a chocolate bar there, a lollipop for being good, the list goes on. I would argue that if you sat down and asked a small child what would be a real treat for them they would be just as likely to come up with a non food related answer. A new book, a comic, playing a game with mum and dad… All these things are far more beneficial for so many reasons and as for food treats if that’s the route you want to take, make a fruit rainbow, turn sandwiches into happy faces or have a smoothie tea party. Try to think outside the box a little.
We’ve all done it, at times I have been as guilty as the next parent of overindulging the kids for “treats” sake but I’m happy to say it happens far less often as I become more educated about the food we eat.
As parents most of us understand that we have to say no to our children to guide them down the right paths. We need to remember that its ok to say no about foods we don’t want them to have even if their friends are. Kids in general are understanding and accepting and if an alternative is offered I think the perceived battle will be more short lived that you think!
Yes, I am that mother that takes a bottle of sugary juice drink off of the party table and empties it out to refill with water before handing it to my kids. I do this not because I am being mean but because I dont want the situation I am in to make me parent in a way I don’t feel comfortable with. I don’t want to feel pressured into letting my kids have things that I would never choose for them ordinarily.
I do consider myself to be blessed with children that will try most foods and really enjoy a wide variety of cuisines including almost every fruit and vegetable. This may be pure luck but I can’t help but feel that it has a lot to do with our attitude towards food at home. We never talk about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods and the kids rarely question the foods put in front of them. One of our house rules is that the fruit bowl will always be topped up and the kids can help themselves whenever they like. In a lot of houses the same can be said for the biscuit tin…
When my daughter started school just over two years ago I made a conscious decision that she would not be having any sweet things in her lunchbox, after all lunch at home never ends with ‘pudding’. It felt like a slippery slope to me. I never wanted there to be a so called treat element to her packed lunches, rather a selection of healthy foods which she enjoys. As a result there is never an issue over what she eats first or what gets left for later if she is full. This also has the added benefit of preventing the sugar high and inevitable crash which so many children have in the afternoon. We continued the same with my son when he started in September. Sometimes after school the kids will have a sweet snack teamed with some fruit but I try to make this something I’ve made with good ingredients. I am aware that as the children get older and spend more time away from the family home my control of the food they eat will lessen so I hope that by educating them about the right foods to eat they will continue to make good choices.
In a funny sort of way Noah’s dairy intolerance has been the trigger to the whole family being healthier. We are a very fair family so if there is nothing that Noah can eat, the others get nothing either! The kids rarely ask for chocolate in the supermarket or cakes in the cafe because they know there is likely to be nothing he can have. For this very reason I always carry a bunch of snacks with me. Mostly fruit, breadsticks, and nuts so they never go hungry. Being prepared is key, for example after swimming this morning they devoured a banana each and a tub of grapes and breadsticks. If I had taken nothing then the vending machines would have been our only food option, as it is they pass them by without a second glance.
I love my children more than anything in this world and believe that it is my job as far as is possible to ensure their health and wellbeing. In the same way I hold their hand as we cross the street, make sure they clean their teeth, and take them to the doctors when they are sick, I will always do my best to nourish their bodies and feed them the best way I know how.
5 of the Best after School Snacks.
Great ideas if you’re looking for a healthier sweet option. We often serve these alongside a mixture of fruits.
1. Fruit Loaf
2. Superseeded flapjack
3. Banana and coconut bread
4. Oatmeal and raisin cookies
5. Filled pittas (try banana and honey or natural peanut butter)
6. Do get in touch and let me know your thoughts on this topic and healthy snack ideas for your little ones.