Right from birth I have been very conscious about what I feed my little one. Right from when we went on to solids I spent hours in the kitchen each month steaming fruit and vegetables in huge batches, portioning and freezing. Oh, and it was all organic too (yeah I was one of those mums). Then I went back to work, and whilst I still maintained concern over what I fed her (and still do), I wasn’t quite as anal about it, and dare I say, she even had a pouch or two of food too.
Now, my little baby is a two and a half year old toddler that runs rings around me and burns an insane amount of energy. Like all toddlers, despite her very vegetable based start in life she’s going through a very picky phase but that doesn’t mean I give in and let her have all the sweet and bad treats she asks for; it’s all about balance.
The new 100 calorie campaign – Hmmm
There is new outrage in the parenting world at the moment though, as the Public Health Department has launched a new Change4Life campaign, which encourages parents to give children snacks with no more than 100 calories in - they are even giving out vouchers for money off and free snacks to encourage parents to follow through. Parents like me recently took to the Families Online Facebook page to share our criticisms and frustration over this new scheme, and many in fact, believe that these new guidelines are pretty unrealistic and that limiting snacks and calories isn’t actually the answer.
What do I think? I have mixed emotions about this campaign. Possibly not quite as dramatic as some parents’ reactions but I definitely have an opinion on it. I was not a big child – it wasn’t until I was an adult and had control over my own food that I became overweight and I am doing what I can to fix that but I am determined that my child will have a good relationship with food and NOT become overweight thanks to sugary, albeit delicious, snacks. So, from that perspective the fat girl inside me screams ‘YES, GOOD IDEA’; we want our children to grow up happy but also healthy and this is a great idea.
However, then I have a look at the list of what they are encouraging parents to offer and what the vouchers are for and then I’m like ‘aww guys, really?’ So, you don’t want our children eating sugar and fat BUT you’re happy for our kids to eat artificial sweeteners, including aspartame which has been linked to so many bad things it’s unreal – even I avoid it so why the hell would I give that to my child?
They’ve gone about it the wrong way
The idea for this campaign is actually a really good one but I think they have gone about it totally the wrong way. Yes, we need to change the way some children are eating and encourage a better diet and A LOT of this is down to re-educating the parents as well as altering supermarket food prices.
Don’t give out vouchers for snacks that are full of fake crap, which unknowing parents are then going to go and look for a match in other ingredients. Give out vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables and GENUINELY healthy food. A huge reason people give for NOT eating healthy is the added expense and they’re right – it is MORE expensive to eat healthily but it is also important.
So what do you think? Good campaign or one with flaws? Here’s a crazy notion, why not spend an afternoon at the weekend in the kitchen with your child and make some snacks? My daughter loves making AND eating our healthy vegetable crisps and guess what? They’re less than 100 calories!