Choosing the right foods can be difficult when you are bombarded by labels that read ‘high in calcium’, ‘no sugar’ and ‘fortified with vitamins’. You are almost tricked into thinking it might be the healthiest option on the shelf.
Our labelling guidelines in Ireland do not make it easy for us to determine if the food is in fact good or bad for us. In the UK they have a much simpler ‘traffic light system’, with green for the best choice, amber for healthy but may contain higher salt/sugar, and then red for only occasionally. This, for me, would take out all the confusion, and make shopping and choosing healthy ingredients an easy task. It would also make it much more understandable for a child, and they would make better choices.
  • No artificial colours or additives
  • Sugar levels – read per 100g: A lot is 10g per 100g; a little is 5g per 100g
  • Salt Levels – read per 100g : A lot is 1.3g per 100g; a little is 0.3g per 100g
  • Sodium levels – Multiply by 2.5 to get salt equivalent
  • Fat – read per 100g: A lot is 20g per 100g; a little is 3g per 100g
After you have identified the sugar and salt content, you should then compare brands – is there another brand that is lower in sugar, fat or salt? Certain foods are naturally high in sugar, fat and salt, such as cheese and yogurts. But this does not mean they are unhealthy foods, if given in moderation. Again, compare the brands to see which is best.
‘Children’s foods’
There has been a marked increase in ‘Children’s foods’ on the market over the past few years, and most of these products are higher in sugar. There is no need for special foods for children. Children can be given almost any adult cereal – with the exception of cereals containing whole or chopped nuts.
Low fat food
Do not give diet yogurt to a child younger than five years, as the added sweeteners could cause stomach upsets.
It is really important that we choose the right foods for our children, especially when choosing snacks. Check each label and make wise decisions for your children.
For further information check out our website, with lots of tips on feeding your children.
Expert in Baby & Toddler Nutrition