Treat Foods For Children

Today Safefood.eu launch a new campaign aimed at encouraging parents to cut back on the quantity of treat foods that they give their children. They’re asking parents to say no to large amounts of treat foods so the campaign is called “Let’s Say No” and they’re using the hashtag: #letssayno

It’s no secret that my family have made some changes to our lifestyle and don’t offer so many treat foods to the children. So I figured it might help if I explain why we do this and also how we manage it on a day-to-day basis.

Why We Don’t Offer Treat Foods Regularly

There’s nothing wrong with having a treat every now and again. I flipping love chocolate and am partial to Haribo cola bottles (scuse me while I drool a little) but kids need nutrition, not extra sugar. Too much extra sugar for kids will increase their risk of becoming obese and lead to health problems.

Having treats in the house is expensive and that’s obviously a consideration for us.

We don’t want the kids to associate getting a treat food with feeling loved or rewarded. We’d rather vary how we reward the kids so treats here include; screentime, an extra story, an extra liberty (such as extended bedtime) and yes, we do have some treat foods but they’re of the healthier variety.

How We Don’t Offer Treat Foods Regularly

We don’t buy them very often. Treat foods aren’t on my weekly shopping list anymore. I don’t buy chocolate, sweets, crisps or biscuits. We normally do the shopping together and everybody helps to put the food away so the kids know what’s in the house. If it’s not there they can’t ask for it.

We lead by example. As the adults in the household, my husband and I have cut back significantly on the amount of treat foods that we eat ourselves. I’ll blog more about this in the coming weeks and explain the effect it has had on us.

We offer alternative, healthier, treat foods. We have plenty of yoghurts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, popcorn kernels (for popping) and rice crackers. If the children ask for a treat they’re given a choice of the above. So it’s not like we’re saying “no” it’s like we’re giving them a choice of what they want to have.

We educate the children so that they can make good food choices. As I mentioned earlier this month, the older boy has become very aware of what is wholesome and what is not. He’s involved in what goes into the basket and consequently onto the cupboard shelves.

Look, this is what has worked for us. That’s not to say that it will work for everybody. Maybe this will give you something to think about it.

It’s not a gold standard. I’m sure you’ll bump into me on a day that my children are covered in chocolate and I’ve a tell-tale biscuit crumb on my jumper. That’s okay though, it’s not like we eat treat food everyday. We want to be fitter and healthier as a family so we made the change.

Could you do it?

Disclosure: This is a topic that I’m passionate about and find very interesting so figured I’d write about it. All opinions are my own and I’m not paid to give them.
photo credit: ciaokatelinn via photopin cc

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • noellegoggin

    It is always good to discuss this topic . It’s not just about obesity either (though the statistics of 25% of our under 5s in Ireland being obese is shocking for the long term health problems in our country). Even for the average kid who is within a healthy weight range, they just simply don’t need extra sugar.
    I agree with saying no. Not hard to do, might be a shock to the kids if they haven’t heard it in a while but if you explain the facts, kids can be very receptive. Chances are they have learned about the food pyramid in school and are just chancing their arm with Mom/Dad.
    Another good way is to help them be conscious of what they eat. For older kids, ask them to read the labels for Es and sugar content if they are to have a treat. The don’t have to max out on their ‘sugar allowance’ every day, nor should the after school treat on Friday exceed the limit. By the way – that sugar allowance is about 12g for a kid so you’re definitely blowing it with a full bar of chocolate. If they tend to indulge, maybe get them to think about the poor liver that has to process the overload 🙂

  • missgreeneyes83

    Great post. I’m trying to get away from using food as a treat at all, I think it creates a really unhealthy relationship with food. It was actually a leader at a weightloss group who used to say “you’re not a dog, don’t reward yourself with food” and that has stuck with me. The popcorn kernels are so handy, I always have a bag of them in the press so that I can pop some for the eldest when he’s watching a movie. I don’t buy sweets, coke, crisps or ice-cream. Unfortunately he still gets a lot of rubbish at the houses of other family members, despite me asking to limit it – I know it’s well intentioned but he comes back with full bags sometimes. . I have no problem taking things off him and putting them away for a birthday or whatever. I’d rather be bad cop now than have to take him to the dentist to get teeth out or to watch him put on too much weight for his age and height. The babies haven’t had any rubbish yet and won’t be touching sugary junk for as long as I can help it. They love fruit (they’d go through you for a blueberry), meat, veg. It’s surprising how many people have tried to give them “a lick of chocolate” or “can they have a biscuit” – eh, no. Why on earth would an 11 month old need sugar? In all fairness. I think we’re a nation of sugar addicts & half of us don’t even know it.

    • Wholesome Ireland

      Absolutely agree. I know I have a sugar addiction so it’s down to me to curb it. I’m doing my darnedest to try and ensure that the kids don’t fall into that trap. We also have the issue with family members giving treats and I’m taking them off them too.

  • kathrynslife

    When I was small a favourite treat was an extra couple of pages of the bedtime story, or a few minutes extra time to play out. Big treats could be a walk or a game in the park. Didn’t dawn on me until I had kids of my own that it meant health and education had become treats 🙂

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