Even for the most health conscious parents, minimising sugary or salty treats in our kids’ lives can be challenge.
You may have cut out nightly desserts and introduced Friday Night Treats into your family’s routine, but the reality is that your little ones are probably consuming a lot more of these ‘treats’ over the week than you realise.
A small chocolate bar after school to keep them going until dinner; cake and biscuits during a visit to Granny and Granddad’s; ice cream for dessert after the Sunday dinner; a classmate’s birthday party on a Saturday – see how the weekly treats can build up without you even noticing? You may not be giving them chocolate muffins for breakfast every morning, but even with your healthy meal planning, junk food is still a regular feature in your child’s diet.
Recent figures from Safefood found that around 20%, or a fifth, of the average calorie intake for children typically comes from treat foods such as crisps, biscuits, chocolate and sweets. Those are foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt, but low in nutrients.
Here’s what that 20% would look like in terms of treat food for a week:
The recommendation for the treats our little ones consume is that it’s in very small amounts and not on a daily basis. Here’s how it might look in a typical week:
In many situations, treats are no longer ‘treats,’ but something a lot of children expect on a daily basis, which is why Safefood has launched a new campaign that helps parents to make chocolate and crisps special again.
Along with useful insights, Safefood’s Let’s Say No hub
contains lots of tips and tricks you can use in different situations. For example, here are some ways Safefood recommends you regulate the number of treats in your child’s diet include:
Don’t allow children to take unhealthy snacks from the cupboard themselves.
Don’t give in when the kids are pestering you for junk food.
Don’t have snack food in the house and instead give them a little pocket money each week that they can buy one or two items with.
Give smaller portions, like a half packet of crisps in a bowl rather than a full packet given to them.