The New Year brings with it the promise of new resolutions! While it can be a great time to make changes, it’s important to make changes at a time that works well for you and your family (as it means your more likely stick to them!). Change4Life have launched a new campaign to help support you and your family to choose healthier snacks and reduce your sugar intake!
Why have Chage4Life launched this campaign?
Children currently have 2-3 times more sugar than is recommended! Half of this comes from sugary drinks and snacks.
The link between tooth decay and eating foods and drinks high in sugar is well understood. To reduce your child’s risk of decay, we need to reduce the amount of time their teeth are exposed to sugary foods and drinks. Having too much sugar can also increase your child’s risk of becoming overweight.
How much sugar is too much?
What should parents know about snacks?
Here are some top tips from our nutritionists at Early Start Nutrition:
- Have a good meal and snack routine in place– this helps them to get all the nutrients and energy they need. Offer 3 main meals, breakfast, lunch and tea and 2-3 small healthy snacks
- Offer meals and snacks at similar times each day– this allows children to establish a routine which helps them to manage their appetite
- Remember that children’s appetites vary– try to look at the variety of foods children have eaten across the week, instead of focusing on the food they have at each meal and snack in the day
- Let you child guide you– if they’d like an extra snack that’s ok! Choose a healthy snack that you know will give your child good nutrition. Remember, there may be days when they want less snacks
- Avoid dried fruit at snack times– while dried fruit counts towards one of our 5 A Day, they can easily stick to teeth and cause tooth decay. Try to limit dried fruits for main meals only to help protect your child’s teeth
- Limit juices and smoothies– remember that the guideline for fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies is no more than 150ml a day (it’s much smaller than most people think!). Only offer with a main meal and not a snack
- Don’t worry about sugar in whole fruits and vegetables– this isn’t added sugar and these food contain important vitamins, minerals and fibre
- Don’t worry about sugar in plain milk and yoghurts– this is naturally occurring sugar and not added sugar
- Watch the salt– it’s great if you can make healthy snacks shops. Just be careful not to replace sugary snacks with salty ones. Crisps are often high in salt. If your child really likes crisps, try reducing the number of times they have them each week and try swapping for homemade plain popcorn (add cinnamon or paprika for extra flavour) or plain rice cakes instead
- Involve children in snack time preparation– they are more likely to eat something they have helped to create it! Make food fun and attractive by using different colour and creating exciting snacks.
- Be a good role model- let children see you eating the snacks you would like them to have.
I would prefer not to calorie count for my child
While you might find the calorie information on foods useful, it’s important to think about the overall nutrient content of the food your child eats. The main message to take away is to be aware of the types of snacks you are offering children. Choose more nutrient dense snacks such as fruit, vegetable sticks, rice cakes and popcorn and reduce the amount of sugar they are getting from certain drinks and snacks such as cereal bars, juice drinks and sugary yoghurts. If you are confused about calorie information you can often find calorie (kcal) information on the front of pack food labels. Use this label to go for greens and ambers, and cut down on snacks that show any red ‘traffic lights’.
Where can parents get information and support?
- Visit Change4Life for more healthy snack ideas for your little ones
- Look out for the Change4life sticker when shopping in the supermarket. This will help you to identify healthy snack choices easily!
- Sign up on the Change4Life website to receive money-off vouchers for healthier snacks and helpful tips and ideas
- Download the Change4Life ‘Food Scanner’ app and get scanning!which brings labels to life and shows you just what’s inside popular snacks.