Tips for Parents 11 - 15
11) Watch out for the gimmicks yourself!
Seemingly healthy and nutritious foods can often be deceiving. If you are looking for something healthy and you find your eye drawn to a product claiming to be low fat or “full of calcium for healthy bones” make sure you check to see how much salt, fat and sugar it contains. The label on Nestle Cinnamon Grahams for example tells you that wholegrain contains “essential nutrients…to help keep you and your family healthy from the inside out” but a closer look at the label shows that the cereal is very high in sugar in salt.
Saying that a children’s food product is made of ‘real fruit’ gives it a healthy spin. However products like ‘Real Fruit Winders’ are just gooey strips of sugary jelly (38% sugar and 7% fat) that stick to your child’s teeth and are as bad as sweets. This product won The Parents Jury Tooth Rot Award – children eating this at lunchtime will still have it still stuck to their teeth when its time to go home.
With some schools banning chocolate from packed lunchboxes cereal bars are often substituted for confectionery. Many of these cereal bars contain more than 40% sugar – more calories from sugar than you would find in milk chocolate. Also, whilst sugar eaten in a bowl of cereal tends to get washed away by the milk but in sticky cereal bars the sugar sticks to the teeth .
12) Watch out for kids menus in restaurant.
Watch out for kids’ menus in restaurants – they often read like a fast food menu. Ask for a half portion from the adult menu instead. Compliment your child on behaving like a grown up – children’s taste in food is more sophisticated than you might imagine.
13) Prepare for after school hunger pangs.
After School is a great time to get your child to eat something healthy as they generally come home starving. The trouble is most children dive into the biscuit tin or grab a chocolate bar after school. Have something ready prepared on the table. Cut up fruit on a plate is much more tempting than fruit in a fruit bowl, children like raw veg with a tasty dip. It’s quick and easy to make delicious wraps, pitta pockets or pasta salads and it’s a good idea to have a low shelf in the fridge where children can help themselves to tasty healthy snacks.
14) Let them pack their own lunch.
Get your child involved in packing their own lunchbox – that way you will know what foods they find acceptable. There are some foods children may eat at home but won’t eat in front of his friends. Also make sure food is easy and quick to eat. Anything complicated and children can’t be bothered as they are usually in a rush to get to the playground. If you give fruit usually best to cut it up or peel fruits like clementines and wrap them in cling film.
15) Suggest prizes for healthy eaters.
Some schools have introduced an incentive scheme where children collect points on their lunch card every time they choose a healthy option and these points add up to a gift like CDs or a trip to a football match at the end of term. Maybe you could organise a collection amongst the parents and introduce this at your child’s school.