Avoiding unhealthy food treats - (1 of 2)

1. Have definite limits on unhealthy food treats

Some treats are best avoided altogether in the home – e.g. "In this house we have no sugary/fizzy drinks" or "After our weekend dinners is when we have our treats". Once a definite routine is established these rules become a family habit and is easier to maintain.

2. State positive healthy rules

Rather than focusing on what children can’t have, tell them the healthy rule and what they can have instead – e.g. "You can have milk or water if you are thirsty" (instead of "You can't have any more juice").

3. Have lots of alternative healthy snacks

Try to have a variety of healthy appealing snacks in the home that you are happy for your children to have – e.g. "Icy cold water instead of fizzy drinks and fruit instead of chocolate.

4. Use lots of non-food treats

Extra time on a favourite activity together, going out on a small adventure or saving money for a bigger reward can all be alternatives e.g. "Because you have been so good, you can have an extra story tonight", or "We can stop by the playground on the way home." 

John Sharry, kids and a table of snack foods

5. Be a good example for your children

Parents should avoid emphasising unhealthy food as a treat for themselves and model the idea of different kinds of treats.."I think I deserve a nice bubble bath as a treat," "After all that work, I think I'll curl up on the beanbag and read some of my book", "As a treat to myself I'm going to visit that park I've always wanted to see."

6. Use music and exercise to change mood

Food treats are often used to change moods or to cheer children up. Use other resources such as music or exercise – e.g. "Let’s put on some music now to cheer everyone up/quieten everyone down" or "Let's go for a walk now/take a turn on the trampoline"

7. Praise children for choosing to eat well

Encourage children specifically for making good healthy choices, let them live into a healthy identity "That was a good idea to have some milk, your bones are going to grow big and strong."

We know it’s not always easy to get started when you want to make changes, but it is possible.

For more advice from John visit www.solutiontalk.ie

Posted: 01/10/2014 12:01:17 by John Sharry
Filed under: Childhood obesity, Snacks, Treats

About Me

Avatar Image
John Sharry
I am a social worker and psychotherapist with over 25 years experience as a mental health professional working with families. I am CEO and founder of the Parents Plus Charity who develop parenting courses and materials that are used throughout Ireland. I also am an adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Psychology in UCD and write a weekly parenting column in the Irish Times. I live in Dublin and am the proud father of three children who are my best teachers about what parenting is all about. My website is www.solutiontalk.ie