Use this simple strategy to wean your children off processed food

My daughter begged and begged me for a packet of Dairylea Dunkers in the supermarket recently. It is not the kind of thing I would ever buy for my lot as the list of ingredients reads like a chemists shelf (polyphosphate, calcium phosphate, lactic acid, citric acid, paprika extract)

However, she is very persuasive, we were in a public place, I was in a rush and I was slightly swaying towards buying them. That is, until I looked at the amount of packaging on it - it has a cardboard sleeve but the inside is individual, single-use plastic portions. When I pointed this out to her, well hot dang, she dropped it back in the fridge as quick as a turnip in a Ferrari. 

She put it back because of the packaging, not because I didn’t want her to have it because of all the processed gunk in it (this would, in fact, spur her on!) No, because my 10-year-old daughter and her generation are so invested in the environment that for her, all that packaging was a complete no-no.

Call it the Greta Thunberg effect or simply the success of the Green School initiative that has been running in Ireland for years, but our children are very vested in climate change and the future of the environment. They are not happy about the way our generation and previous generations have treated the planet and they want change.

So, this brings me back to processed food. Processed food, tends to be packaged and often (always?) in single use plastic. Glass jar of cereal anyone? Chocolate bar wrapped in brown paper perhaps? No, I didn’t think so. 

There is great progress being made in sustainable packaging but there is still a long way to go. I have noticed that it is the smaller, often organic producers that tend to make the biggest effort with their packaging.


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So this is an alternative approach to wean our children off highly packaged and highly processed foods - selections boxes, Easter eggs and more. Steer them towards less highly packaged and often (although not always), healthier options and harness their passion about the environment for the benefit of their health as well as the planets.

Some suggested swaps:

Make your own lunchtime snacks with cream cheese and breadsticks or similar, use your own containers or wrap in parchment paper

Selection box (cardboard box and plastic liner) - small chocolate Santa wrapped in foil (I believe the foil can be recycled but information is somewhat confusing, either way there’s much less packaging).

We can all do our bit to protect our beautiful planet.

As a mum of 3, I know how difficult, challenging and difficult (worth saying twice!) it can be, feeding them a healthy, balanced diet. A couple of years ago, I left my full-time job and retrained as a Health and Nutrition Coach - much to the disgust of my children. My goal is to teach children about the joys of healthy eating (so yes, I know how difficult it is!) through my business, The Cool Food School ( I also like to run, drink coffee and ignore the housework.

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