Updated 26 October 2015

Blog: Keeping kids away from sweets

In this week's blog the Sports Science Institute of SA educates us on how to make use of alternatives to keep kids away from unhealthy snacks and junk food.


Week 4 of our journey focuses on nutrition (see below for our other blogs). This week's Healthy Active Kids South Africa (HAKSA) fact is that more than two-thirds of adolescents eat fast food at least three times a week.

I am not sure what shocks me the most here.The amount of junk being consumed or where people find the money for the junk?  That stuff is not cheap.

I have always thought of my family as a bunch of healthy eaters. Then I started working at SSISA- talk about information overload after being introduced to the HAKSA Report Card 2014!

For me the biggest the eye opener was fully understanding the danger of a high sugar diet. All of a sudden the term “sugar rush” had a whole new meaning.

I always associated sugar with the likes of chocolates and the obvious yummies, only to discover that fruit and fizzy drinks are the biggest contributor to South African’s excessive sugar intake. Those who have one or more sweetened drinks a day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Frightening. I follow the LCHF eating plan, with the odd tumble off the wagon, while I clutch a bag of Lay’s. However, I don’t enforce this on the rest of the family. The school system itself actually assists with encouraging healthy eating.

My two youngest Tribelet’s have very strict lunchbox policies at their schools. The only time any sweets or cakes are allowed, is if there is a birthday in the class.

A weekly treat for them is having tuck shop money on a Friday. Tuck shop policies at schools have also been under the spotlight, with many schools implementing a “no junk food” policy at their tuck shops. Woolworths through their “Making the Difference” campaign, have put together a Healthy Tuck Shop Guide for schools.

This guide highlights the importance of a healthy tuck shop as well as tuck shop policies and other interesting tips.Just because it is going to school doesn’t mean the lunchbox has to be boring!

Here are a few ideas on how to keep the kids lunchboxes interesting and fun:

- Involve the kids with packing lunch.  Not only does it give you a chance to spend some quality time with them, they also gain a sense of responsibility by having packed it “themselves”.

- Think outside the lunchbox and be creative.  Buy a couple of fun Post It notes and randomly add notes to your kid’s lunch box.

- Go Green and use lightweight recycled plastic jars to serve fun new foods.  Fruit and yoghurt or even salad work well here.

- Avoid fizzy or sweetened drinks.  Add a chopped strawberry or slice of orange to a bottle of water to enhance the flavour.

- Sandwich cutters or cookie cutters are a MUST.  They can turn the most boring sandwich into a work of art.  The bonus is that they also work well on fruit.

- Cook a little extra dinner and add to the kid’s lunchbox.  Dishes like chicken, pasta salad, quiche, homemade pizza slices are just as delish cold as they are warm.

- Bored with bread?  Try making them a wrap with a healthy filling, these are a crowd favourite with my Tribelet’s.

Fatimah and I often share parenting stories from the trenches and one of our favourite subjects is what our kids eat. As moms from different cultures - our perspectives on food have been moulded differently and this is especially evident when we compare what are considered staple elements in our households.

In her household, a meal without starch is incomplete. There is no distinction between good and bad sugar and moderation is based on the size of your plate.

In a home spanning three generations - compromise is the buzzword, with the delicate palate of the youngest member dictating the menu. While food behaviour is changing slowly in her household, her focus is to curb sugar intake.

She does this by offering sweets as treats rather than the norm and instilling a culture of awareness of the alternative options available. We asked our team of Mommy Bloggers if they had a policy of “sugar control” and how often their kids where allowed it?

“Fizzy drinks are a definite no, they will not be allowed fizzy drinks for as long as I have a say in it. Sugar I keep limited, you can't miss what you don't know - they have never had sugar in their tea, etc. - so they don't know what they are missing out on.

In terms of sweets - I do not allow hard candies, but I don't see any harm in letting my toddler enjoy a chocolate or marshmallow every now and then. I don''t believe in depriving kids of sweets, but it is definitely a treat for weekends or special occasions - not an everyday thing.

They also work wonderful for bribery. Don't judge me, it works.”   Maz Halliday of 

“Weekends are fine, as long as it’s not a regular thing and controlled, like a packet of chips, flavoured rice cakes, on a Friday night Danny gets a small cup (like 120ml) of coke (zero or tab).”  Lindsay- Leigh Thomas of 

Read more:

Let’s get physical!

Get Moving for your health

Blog: Square eyes - your child and the TV

The journey:

Blog: How parents can help their kids fight obesity

Blog: Square eyes - your child and the TV

Blog: Why kids should exercise


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