Leading by example

ImageThis week I have been reading about the debate over whether it is healthy to discuss weight issues with your child and how parents must lead by example when it comes to healthy eating.

It was all so easy when they were babies to meet up with your friend and comfort yourself with a slice of cake in a semi-conscious sleep deprived state, knocked back with a cup of coffee. But now, at three, they expect their fair share and are not fobbed off with a few raisins and a banana.

I have always been a complete hypocrite when it comes to sweets. My daughter was three before she was allowed an ice cream. I once had a panic attack when a neighbour gave her a packet of Haribo, expecting a sugar rush of hyperactivity – nothing really happened.

I was shocked when I arrived early at her nursery one day and found both my children smeared in chocolate cake. Even at her school where she has just started in the nursery class, she came out smiling last week with a packet of sweets and a lollipop. What happened to milk and fruit?

I know it is ultimately down to me as a parent, as if I don’t give my child sweets they can’t eat them, but as she gets older it’s getting harder because they are everywhere.

It’s not just sweets. My mum gave my three and a half year old a Capri Sun the other day that came in a kids’ lunch box. I looked at the empty packet and found it had nearly 40% of an adults recommended daily sugar allowance.

Peitit Filous – little pots of fromage frais – have 12g of sugar – about  two teaspoons.

And then there’s breakfast cereals. What is more appealing to a child – Honey Monster Sugar Puffs (35% sugar) or the porridge oats with a man in a kilt on the front?

The Government keep banging on about record obesity levels in toddlers and primary school children.  Yes, parents need to stop buying them, but why do they do nothing about the marketing of this massive food industry for children? Sometimes you feel you have to be an expert in nutrition to work out whether something is suitable or not.

A packet of sweets in a plain white paper bag  with a health warning on is surely not as appealing? They’ve done it with cigarettes, why now not food?

I know I should lead by example, but it’s a tough habit to break. Will I now be sitting down to a chat over a glass of water, a banana and raisins? I am not so sure.


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