When my daughter started school last year we got our school book list and a list of rules etc. I was delighted to see they had a healthy eating policy except a treat on Fridays, 20% of the time they are in school they can have a treat. That isn’t even the start of it my daughter is in senior infants now and she gets a jelly every day. This really bugs me as I don’t want to give treats daily and I don’t at home, she doesn’t get the treat in her lunch box on a Friday, she stopped asking after a few weeks when the answer was constantly no, I know I’m a mean mom she has told me. My sister objected to treats in their school and was told it was a great motivating tool. My head nearly exploded when I heard that!!
I feel it is such a serious problem that schools need to tackle the problem on head on. I think it should be forbidden for schools to sell anything but healthy food. Vending machines and tuc shops need to be banished. I straight don’t accept the argument that the schools need this money to fund the schools. The money they make from instilling these bad habits in children is too hefty a price to pay. Education is key here not just our children. Adults need to be brought into the frame. It’s pretty pointless telling a child not to eat the food that is served up to them at home. One idea I have is a course run by schools for parents and children to do together. It gives a talk on nutrition and health followed by a cooking demonstration and then given the ingredients for two healthy family meals to prepare at home. People love free stuff, myself included!
Society in General
I think the schools are probably the easiest target and it simply can’t end there. We need to be bombarded with healthy eating messages, just like we are about cigarettes. When we visit our GP we need to have our weight monitored, when we turn on our TV and radio we need to hear about it. Our local sports teams need to stay away from letting the local fast food joint sponsoring the team. One hour of football a week does not make it ok to eat badly. Food is 80% of the problem, exercise 20%. The benefits of a healthy message might also extend to our alcohol problem in society.
Parents should stop having a biscuit with a cup of tea, something that was pretty hard for me to achieve. Party bags while a lovely idea should be given the boot. You’ve just filled children to the max with terrible food and then for good measure you give them more junk, I’ve never given them, yes they are missed but not unduly the kids ask where’s my party bag and they accept my answer which is ‘There are none’. Food as a form of bribery has to be cut out, it works but it’s only short term solution with long term negative impacts. And we need to say ‘No’ more often. I have by some miracle gotten to the point when I go to the supermarket with my children they don’t even ask for treats. I know I’m sounding like I think I do everything perfectly I do not and it’s a constant battle. While I’m very strict and don’t give many treats I think my children get way too many treats. I was with a friend one day when her 3 year old came up with a lollipop in his hand and asked her ‘Mummy what’s this?’ I was very impressed and if I admit a bit jealous. I have some very unhealthy habits that I need to cut out as I know children are seriously influenced by parent’s behaviour.