The government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy has fallen short of many campaigners’ demands to force the food industry to cut added sugars. Here’s how you can do your bit to ensure your child has a healthy diet:
1. Opt for water over fizzy drinks, squashes, smoothies and juices. This sets up the expectation that water is normal and other drinks are for treats. Stick with 150ml servings of pure fruit juice or smoothies.
CUTS 16.7g added sugars (150ml carton apple juice)
2. Wean children off sugar-sweetened yogurts gradually, to make plain yogurt the normal choice at home and in lunchboxes, adding fresh fruit, fruit canned in juice or dried fruit to brighten the colour and taste.
CUTS 1½tsp added sugars (125g pot fruit yogurt)
3. Make plain popcorn at home as a snack. It’s very good value and doesn’t need salt or sugar. Add pieces of dried pineapple, apple or pear to add natural sweetness if you like (these contain natural sugars, which we don’t need to worry about).
CUTS 31g added sugars (100g serving ready to eat sweet popcorn)
4. Turn fruit into puddings. Try baked apples, grilled bananas and poached pears served with plain fromage frais and sprinkled with dried fruits such as sultanas – or make custard with skimmed milk and stevia sweetener.
CUTS 19g added sugars (1 serving apple pie)
5. Make your own fizzy ice lollies by using diet lemonade in ice lolly moulds and home freeze.
CUTS 14.1g added sugars (R Whites Premium Lemonade Ice Lolly)
6. Buy a supermarket pack of porridge oats and you can serve up a nutritious and filling breakfast, which is free from added sugars.
CUTS 11g sugars (30g bowl Frosties)
7. Add grated carrots and courgettes to your bolognese sauce along with reduced-fat mince, canned tomatoes, tomato purée, a pinch of dried mixed herbs and dash of worcestershire sauce.
CUTS at least 1tsp added sugars (1 serving shop-bought bolognese sauce)
8. You don’t need to buy expensive or out of season fresh fruit. Make the most of fruit canned in juice – a can of peaches makes a great pudding with a swirl of single cream, natural yogurt or fromage frais.
9. Download the Change4Life Sugar Smart app (free from iTunes/Google Play) and let children use it on products to help them to understand the amount of sugars in their foods – it will make what they learn at school about healthy eating real. Let them decide on healthier choices (such as Weetabix over Coco Pops and sparkling water over cola).
10. Be brave enough to take control. Take the flak that comes with this and push changes through anyway! Change is hard, but the effects of obesity on long and short term health are even harder.
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