Grandparents. They have done their time following the rules and raising their children, and now it is time for them to have some fun with yours. Grandparents have earned the right to spoil the next generation, but sugar filled sweets such as lollies, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, ice-creams, soft drink and cordial aren’t always the best way to do this.
What grandparent’s might not know…
Foods high in sugar can lead to health issues such as childhood obesity, mood changes, poor growth and development and tooth decay. Children who eat too much sugar may be filling up on the wrong foods and missing out on essential nutrients which help them to grow. After all, Popeye was strong from eating spinach – not lollipops. Eating habits introduced early can impact their food choices later in life.
How it makes parents feel…
It can be difficult when a child comes home on a hyperactive rampage and refuses to eat their dinner because they are bloated and full from the sweet stuff. While this may be easy enough to bare for the occasional visit, more and more grandparents are easing the financial burden of day-care to regularly help change nappies, enforce nap times and jump in muddy puddles. As a strong, elderly influence in your child’s life, it can make it extremely difficult to explain to your child that grandma is not always doing the right thing when she provides chocolate for lunch.
What to say to grandparents…
While it can be a tough conversation to have with your parent (or worse, your mother in law), once you explain your reasons they will (hopefully) understand your concerns.
The first step is to include them in the discussion in a positive way, rather than with a full blown attack. There are plenty of valid reasons to reduce the sugar loading and with temptation everywhere, as a role model to your children the grandparents can be part of the solution. Approaching the grandparents with a plan is a smart idea, and if you have a partner you can support each other in this discussion.
- Provide them with the daily requirements for growth and development in children and express your concerns (or your doctor’s concerns) that they may not be meeting the recommended nutrients because they are filling up on the wrong foods. Brainstorm with the grandparents on how they could assist you with ensuring the child is getting a balanced diet.
- Grandparents love to teach their grandchildren something new, so ask them if they would like to help you encourage healthy food awareness by creating a vegetable patch or baking with your child…you could even provide the recipes!
- Provide them with colouring in sheets or age appropriate activities around healthy foods. This will keep the children occupied and can encourage discussion around certain foods and flavours.
- Suggest they replace food treats with novelty items. Young children love stickers, coins and knick knacks – all cheap options without any sugary side effects.
- If your children are fussy eaters, it may simply be the case that they are finding it difficult to feed them, so pack a lunch box with healthy options you know will be eaten, and a drink bottle filled with water.
Most schools and day-care centres encourage healthy eating, and it certainly makes it easier to educate your child to make the right nutrition choices when consistency is in place.
Grandparents and parents can work together to create a positive change, provide healthier options while giving your children the tools they need to make the right food choices.
Healthy Snack Ideas:
- Cheese and crackers
- Tub of yoghurt
- Boiled eggs
- Wholegrain cheese toasties
- Fresh fruit
- Fruit bread