Most kids love sweets, chocolates, biscuits and crisps – and they like nothing better than eating them while drinking glass after glass of cola, lemonade or other fizzy drinks.
Unfortunately, none of these are good for their health (thinking about the additives alone would make you tremble), at least not in the quantities young kids typically like to eat. And consuming lots of sweets and fizzy drinks also means that they have less room for more nutritious food when it arrives.
Isn’t it amazing how your kid might not be hungry enough to finish his meal, yet he immediately gobbles down an entire chocolate bar?
How to set a limit
The starting point in controlling your child’s intake of sweets and soft drinks is to set a limit on how much of such food he is allowed each day. Speak to your family doctor who can guide you on appropriate amounts. Whatever you decide is the right maximum amount for your child, keep that quota clear in your mind.
Don’t just rely on your determination to stick to the limits you have decided. Use practical strategies such as keeping sweets and chocolate out of your child’s sight.
Place his daily sweet ration away from the main group so that he accesses them without any other temptations. You will find that your kid gradually adjusts to the amounts you have set.
Similarly, instead of buying large bags of sweets, buy smaller bags and smaller individual bottles of fizzy drinks. The less sweets and chocolate there are in the house, the less likely he is to eat them.
The occasional indulgence
No matter how much you control his intake of chocolate at home, you face an uphill struggle when he goes to his friend’s party because it is likely his friend’s parents will provide sweets in abundance.
An occasional over-indulgence in sweets won’t harm your child unduly, especially if it happens infrequently. So don’t worry too much. By all means, suggest to your kid that he shouldn’t munch every sweet in sight, but accept that he’ll probably forget your instructions the minute the party begins.
Encourage healthy eating habits
Limiting his sweets intake isn’t the only way. Another method is to take a positive approach by encouraging him to eat healthier food. In other words, develop his taste for fresh fruits instead of sugary sweets, for slices of chopped fresh vegetables instead of chocolate bars, for drinks of chilled water instead of cola or lemonade.
It’s only habit that drives his towards sugary products. Making sure that fresh fruits and vegetables are key parts of his food intake every day helps to keep sweets on the sidelines.
Set a good example for your kid
You can’t reasonably expect your child to eat fruit instead of crisps when he watches you munch your way through an entire bag while watching television. He will take his lead from you, so if your eating habits are good, chances are, his will follow a similar pattern.
Get the grandparents to cooperate
Have a word with caregivers and relatives who look after your kid at times. Grandparents enjoy spoiling their grandchild – that’s one of the pleasures of being a grandparent – and they often give their grandchild chocolate and sweets because they know that will get a positive reaction. Sweets are a sure way to gain affection from a young grandchild!
Have a tactful word with them about this. Explain that you are encouraging healthy eating habits and that you would like to have their support.
If everyone works together in this way, sweets, fizzy drinks and other sugary food products won’t play a major part in your young child’s diet.
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