There are some alarming reports on childhood obesity and the long-term impact it’s going to have on our kids’ lifespan, health and the nation’s wallet.
It’s easy to think that we are somehow damaging our children in the long-term by some of our food choices.
Just like an hour in the sun is not going to give you skin cancer an irregular dash to a fast food chain for a snack is not going to make your child obese.
All things in moderation is the key.
Another important part of the equation is the exercise and activity levels of your child. A sedentary child who camps out in front of the gaming unit eating high-energy snacks is going to be at risk far more than an active kid with a varied diet.
- Teach your kids about food for taste vs. food for energy. It’s okay to have a treat and enjoy the taste but it is not contributing to your energy levels; that’s where ‘real’ food comes in
- If you don’t want your kids to eat it, keep it out of the house
- Try as much as possible to reduce the amount of flavoured beverages on the menu. These add lots of calories without the energy value kids need
- Part of the fun of treat food is the novelty value of the packaging, so take some time in the supermarket and check out the convenience foods that are healthier.
Snacks actually end up making up a good portion of our kid’s diets and this is often the place where healthy eating takes a back seat to convenience.
So when it comes to snacks, what is right for our kids (and us too)?
Carbohydrate gets a bad rap these days in many circles. To be fair, a diet high in refined carbs such as white flours and processed foods is not ideal as they release a quick burst of ‘energy’ followed by the ‘slumps’. However carbohydrates such as whole grains provide sustained energy that will prevent a big dip in energy levels and the associated tantrums.
Of equal importance in snack choice is palatability. A lunchbox full of healthy food is of no use whatsoever if it consists of warm yoghurt, bruised bananas and crumbly crackers. Make sure the snacks are ones that won’t end up in the rubbish at the end of the day by packing carefully.
Fast food doesn’t have to be junk food; the supermarket is full of healthy single serve snacks that are perfect for the time poor. Just make sure you read the labels!
The trick is to plan plan plan…. making sure we make good food choices easy for our kids; choices that give sustained energy.