As a parent I know how much we want only the very best for our children. How we protect them as much as we possibly can and would go to the ends of the earth to ensure their welfare and happiness.
But… Are we being driven by what is happening around us – are we following trends and habits that may not be in our children’s best interests – is the food manufacturing industry betraying our earnest endeavours at every step of our journey?
Hard questions – and even harder to answer for ourselves.
I was recently at a 9 year olds birthday party and was shocked to see some of the presents that were given to the birthday girl. And I wondered if we are really aware of just what we are putting inside our kid’s bodies – and just how much sugar they are consuming each day. Are we reading labels? Do we understand what they mean? Or are we in automatic mode and thinking we are being kind and that the treats we provide almost every day are ok?
The package I was particularly concerned about was labelled ‘4 servings’ and had 58.9 grams of sugar. Seriously…???!!! Never mind the colourings and other chemicals added to extend the product shelf life.
While it said ‘4 servings’ I doubt there would be many children who would not consume the whole packet themselves in a very short space of time – how can we monitor their consumption, or do we? 58.9 grams of sugar equals almost 15 teaspoons of sugar – in one small, brightly coloured package. Five times the recommended 3 teaspoons of sugar intake for a child for just one day – let alone potentially the 15 minutes it would take a child to consume. Not forgetting that if it was indeed consumed between 4 children – they would still be having more than the recommended daily serving per child.
I know it is not easy to monitor everything we or our children eat – we have busy lives and when we go to the supermarket, everything is conveniently packaged up for us – and so we buy it. Breakfast cereals, muesli bars, juice and fizzy drinks, yoghurt and ice cream, biscuits and muffins… And the list goes on.
So what can we do about it… ? Where do we start? I believe we start with educating ourselves, understanding more about the foods we buy each week and making a more informed choice.
Just last week a colleague was telling me about a group of children – probably about 12 years of age – sitting at a bus stop at 8.30am on their way to school and eating burgers and drinking cola. So I have to ask – why did they not have breakfast at home before leaving for school – and where are they getting the money to spend on this kind of food first thing in the morning? My concern was not simply about what they were consuming, but also about how it would (or wouldn’t) help them to learn and to perform during their day.
I myself recently saw a group of boys in school uniform in the supermarket one afternoon spending an average of $10 each – on fizzy drinks, chips, biscuits and chocolate. Not a piece of fruit in sight!
So I guess the message is to read your labels and to be aware of what you and your family are eating, snacking and drinking; planning your menu to include whole unprocessed foods. It’s about awareness – then it is your choice and becomes an informed choice. To teach our children and let them start to learn about what they are putting in their bodies and how it affects them. Let them start to monitor how they feel and begin to realise the merits in what they do or do not eat at home or elsewhere.
Dr Libby has a great infographic here that shows you just exactly where the sugar is hiding – click here to review; essential information for us all perhaps.
If you are keen to have some assistance in reading and understanding labels, would like to have some help in replacing some of the foods in your pantry and on your menu each day, or if you would like help with some more healthier options for your children’s lunch boxes then do get in contact. VitalSure has the connections that can help you in this area – with no judgement or criticism. Just love and education.
021 634 451