Have you heard of the safefood campaign Lets Say No? Safefood want to encourage us all to tackle childhood obesity, one small step at a time!
Have you ever bribed your child with chocolate?
Have you ever tried to calm their rumbling tummy with a packet of crisps?
Did you know that around 1 in 4 children in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese?*
Do you want to provide your children with the best start in life, in terms of their health and their habits? I do! But I know I am guilty of providing too many treat items, too often.
In fact, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and I have come to realise that many instances when I give my children treats are triggered by habit. There are certain times when the likelihood of me diving into the biscuit jar is increased, so I have been thinking about how we can change our lifestyle and routines to help prevent this.
I thought I would share with you some of the occasions my children are most likely to receive treats, and ways I have started to change this and say ‘No’ to treat foods!
Lets Say No!
As a reward: This is perhaps my worst culprit. I need ten minutes to make a phone call, or finish looking around a shop. So, I make a deal – ‘Just be good for ten minutes then I will give you a treat’.
The reason I do this is because it works to some extent. My plan therefore is to change the treat element. Instead of giving chocolate the treat could be a visit to the park, a favourite game, or even a healthy alternative such as a small packet of raisins.
As a habit: There are definitely certain shops we go to and certain people we visit where my children have an expectation that they will receive a treat.
I have let other people know that we are trying to cut down on treat foods and asked them not to offer any to my child. As for those shops… it is just a habit and it needs to be broken. I have started saying No! And guess what – the first time there were a few tears, but honestly, it wasn’t that bad, and it is getting better every time!
When they are hungry: Mid morning and mid afternoon are definitely peak times for my children to ask for treats.
I offer my one year old healthy snacks throughout the day, but I had almost stopped preparing snacks for my four year old. I have recently introduced this again, with him now receiving a healthy snack mid morning and mid afternoon. I actually think this has been the most effective change I have made. I am not asked for treats nearly as often as he isn’t actually hungry and looking for that energy boost.
When they see treats: You know when you smell chips and then want some? You know when you see the cake stand in a restaurant and order some? The same thing happens for my kids. If they see other people eating, or stumble across the cake tin, the automatic response is to ask for some.
We have a biscuit tin in our house, but I am aiming to have it empty the majority of the time. Not by eating the contents – but by buying less to put in it in the first place. Or by putting healthy snacks in it instead, such as dried fruit or crackers. I don’t think I have ever went to the shop specifically to buy my children a treat, so I am not going to start now! Of course this also means I will not be able to snack from the biscuit tin, which will be better for me and set a good example for the kids.
When they are bored: I think this applies to all my family members. Opening the fridge door is far too regular an occurrence, when wandering around looking for something to do!
Although in an ideal world this wouldn’t happen, the truth is it does. It is important to make sure healthy snacks are available for occasions such as these!
Safefood recommend that treat foods are limited to once a week, every other day or at least only once a day. To help you achieve this you can find a great selection of healthy snack ideas and tips and advice on how to say no to treat food on the Safefood website, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter using #LetsSayNo.
I was delighted to work in partnership with safefood to help highlight the issue of childhood obesity. This has really brought home to me the issue of too many treats and made me think about the choices I make with my own children. Is there a pattern to your child seeking unhealthy snacks? Please feel free to comment with your experiences and tips.
*Source Safefood press release