Sweet Enough

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Photo credit: Sytske_R

I have a sweet tooth and I love indulging it from time to time, going for high tea and other such loveliness and I could quite easily get in the habit of having muffins for breakfast and chocolate on the couch for supper. The balance between treating and full-on sugar-gorging is one I am only just finding for myself as I indulge less often, make sugar-free versions of my faves, and generally try to eat more healthfully.

Since I became a parent, I’ve become more interested in the sugar and the whole healthful eating topic. I determined early on that I wanted Lola to have as little sugar as possible at this age and support her natural belief that treats in these early years (before anyone tells her otherwise) are fruit and vegetables. Why not start her off on that track in the early days and then later she can decide herself how much sugar she wants to eat?

It’s surprising the hurdles you come across on the path to awareness – who knew so many types of teething biscuit would include sugar?? Another of the hurdles I discovered on the way is crèche. I’ve only had experience with two crèches in Amsterdam so far, but both give ontbijtkoek or bread (with cream cheese, or jam or nutella) for a morning snack. They also have warm meals every lunchtime and fruit in the afternoon, which is nutritious and I’m totally into that. But ontbijtkoek and chocolate spread at 18 months old, or younger?

If you’re not familiar with ontbijtkoek, it’s a spiced cake bread made with cloves, ginger, cinnamon and brown sugar and treacle. It’s also pretty dry so butter is spread on it to moisten it. I didn’t see this as something that was particularly nutritious every morning, so agreed with the crèche that she have either wholemeal bread or alternative snacks that I’d bring in myself.

This week, one member of staff told me they didn’t like to give my daughter her alternative (organic cookies or fruit bar) as other children sometimes wanted it too and it’s unfair on them if they can’t have it. Errrmmm…..?

I’m fine with providing snacks for my daughter, and I’m also fine with other kids eating them if they’re interested. Not a problem. However, rather than make my daughter’s ”alternative” snacks an issue, maybe think about why I’m bringing them in? Why not offer only healthful, real food and then every kid has the same, and no-one needs to bring an alternative? It seems like a simple solution, and also a logical one given that there is mounting concern over sugar consumption and resulting health issues.

So…what to do? Get all food-fascist about it? Accept that they’re doing their best and a bit of sugar every day is OK? Does added sugar have to feature in the daily lives of toddlers and younger?

Oh and good timing for this post – today is Food Revolution Day, an awareness day dreamed up by Jamie Oliver to highlight health and education issues around food. He’s already pioneering change in school menus, perhaps we can get started even earlier and bring crèche leaders up to speed too!

On yet another sidenote, I was so not into Jamie Oliver in his younger TV years with the over-used, annoying catchphrases and the trendy lifestyle the producers were trying too hard to depict. But, these days, with all his public campaigning,  and his more relaxed presenting of shows, I’m onboard. Check out his stance on sugar in schools here.

What snacks are given at your daycare? Do you have any thoughts on the sugar debate?

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