A recent report from Public Health England revealed that half (51.2%) of children’s daily sugar intake comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks.
What’s the big deal?
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey calculates that over 1 year the average child consumes:
Almost 400 biscuits
More than 120 cakes, buns and pastries
Around 100 portions of sweets
Nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams
More than 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink
That’s pretty staggering stuff. So, what can parents do to reduce these levels? It’s amazing how quickly these snacks add up and most of us don’t realise what the odd ‘treat’ here and there amounts to.
Healthy snacks for kids
The official recommendation for children is to have a maximum of 2 snacks per day, under 100 calories each. But how achievable is this?
You could swap your usual treat to these snacks under 100 calories:
One hard boiled egg
Chopped vegetables and low fat hummus
One portion of malt loaf
One medium apple
Two medium kiwis
Fresh or tinned fruit salad
One portion of natural fat free fruit yoghurt
One bowl of popcorn
100ml glass of orange juice
Fruit Shoot hydro water in apple and blackcurrant flavour
There are some great resources out there for parents looking for healthier options for their kids. BBC good food have these healthy snack ideas and take a look at Change4Life’s guide.
Making it work
We’re particularly aware at this time of year how good intentions can quickly dissolve! We start off keen and focused, but can easily get off track.
Here are some good tips on how to reduce sugar intake in the long term:
Start at the source. Be mindful of your supermarket selection - if you don’t have it in the cupboards, they can’t be tempted
Supply and demand. Keep healthy options prepared and available (tubs of veggie sticks/ fruit salad in the fridge) to make better choices easier
Get them on board. You’ll be fighting a losing battle if your children don’t like the healthy alternatives. You could ask them to fill out a food questionnaire for a bit of fun - or just ask them before the weekly shop
Get them involved. Children can have fun and learn about nutrition by helping prepare healthy snacks like fruit skewers or trail mix
Lead by example. Children learn from our behaviours - if you can choose the healthy option, they’ll be more likely to do the same
Keep it real. We all enjoy a bit of something sweet and sticky sometimes… Life would be joyless and dull without an ice cream or cake every now and again!
We know parents want the best for their kids, but we also understand how difficult it can be to keep them on track. Hopefully these tips will help you to help your kids keep balanced and healthy.