Can you say no to treats?
Do you remember when you were small – you might have got a small sweet treat on Sunday? Today, our children eat ‘treat’ foods every day, if not several times a day.
Between breakfast and bedtime, Irish children are consuming vast quantities of nutritionally poor foods, the so-called ’empty calories’ foods and it’s ruining their health.
And safefood says they are paying the price – the obesity timebomb is no longer ticking, it has exploded with one in four schoolchildren now obsese. Ireland’s only dedicated childhood obesity treatment programme, at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin, had a 400% increase in just one year in referrals of children under five years of age.
So what can parents do?
Well, safefood suggests saying ‘No’. A new campaign, #Lets Say No, aims to cut the 16kgs of treat foods per year that children eat. This is the equivalent of 140 small chocolate bars, 105 tubes of sweets, 36 packets of jam filled biscuits and 118 bags of crisps and doesn’t include foods like ice cream, cakes, pastries, buns and puddings that a child would typically eat as well.
Parents need to take charge and reduce the amount of unhealthy foods coming into the house, say the experts at safefood.
So how to start? Here are some top tips…
1. Start gradually and don’t make too many strict rules at once. Cut down on treat foods, but don’t ban them as this only makes them more appealing
2. Avoid having fatty and sugary snack foods or drinks freely available
3. Say no in the supermarket – If they’re not in the house, they can’t be eaten
4. Practise what you preach. Children are more likely to learn from how you behave rather than from what you tell them. If your child sees you eating an apple as a snack and enjoying it, they will be tempted to try one
You can get further information on the #Lets Say No campaign from safefood