You might be fearful this blog post is going to be written by one of those mums whose child has never had white bread cross their lips, or whose go-to family dessert is a carob-flavoured chia pudding sprinkled with nothing more than edible flowers. The truth is, once-upon-a-time I was one of those mothers. I had a cupboard stocked with the most insoluble fibres I could find at the health store. My fridge was a barren place, save for the yoghurt I was culturing or kids’ probiotics I was keeping at -4 degrees.
I set out as I meant to continue as a mother, with nothing but my children’s precious health in the forefront of my mind. But as my kids grew up, it all fell gradually apart. Eating out, me starting work again and my kids discovery of party foods made whatever I put in their lunchbox or on the table seem quite...inadequate. Complaints are now the norm, but I have decided to tackle the whole thing head on and just tell them the truth - sugar is going to rot the teeth out of their heads and hot chips are shrinking their brains. Sort of.
Look, being too graphic with my kids didn’t work either. My daughter is prone to nightmares over the most innocuous things and my son got more excited than scared when I tried an exploratory conversation about brain-shrinkage (‘Will I end up like a dinosaur, mum, they had really small brains?’) So I’ve come up with a battle plan that includes a bit of nasty truth telling with some strategic planning.
What I tell them:
- Sugar is ok in small amounts, but your body doesn’t really like it - it can make painful holes in your teeth
- ‘Sometimes’ foods are party foods. We don’t have them at home
- I eat healthy food because I love my body and so should you (remember a bit of body positivity never hurt!)
What I do:
- Let them cook dinner! Yes I do this all the time and the results are normally pretty good. A healthy home-made pizza is one of our favourites and rolling out the dough is an activity than can last for a long time.
- This might sound obvious, but I don’t have food in the house I don’t want my kids to eat. That means there are no cookies they spy in the pantry or ice-cream in the freezer. It’s a tough and thankless approach, but if it’s not available, it’s not eaten!
- If we have a treat it’s after a proper meal and some fruit - that makes less room in their tummies for the bad stuff!