Leading nutritionist, Susie Burrell has something to tell you: “Stop being their friend and start acting like a parent.”
Working as a paediatric dietitian at a tertiary hospital for almost 10 years specialising in childhood obesity taught me many years ago that our kids eat too much.
Case after case I would see families with children weighing 20-30kg more than their ideal body weight and work towards reducing their food intake even slightly to stop the rapid weight gain cycle they had become a part of thanks to frequent snacking, high sugar drinks and large portions. This was my work; I knew the signs and risk factors and could discuss them with any client who presented to my private clinic.
But it has not been until more recently as I find myself in the rather challenging role of step-mother to primary school aged children have the real food issues for the average family become more apparent – the constant daily feeding of crap to our kids that is now considered the norm.
Suddenly I was finding soft drink in my fridge, 1/2 finished containers of iced tea in bedrooms and the healthy snack box had been filled with packets of little things I would never recommend or buy under any circumstances – the universe was officially testing my dietitian boundaries. And no matter what the reason or justification there is no way I am having crappy food, the exact foods I tell my clients to stop eating and buying, in my own home, stepmother or not.
Now I know I am not going to win any fans here, but I am going to say it, even louder and more clearly than I do in my day to day work. I want all parents out there to hear it, very simply. Our kids eat way too much, way too often thanks to a mix of guilt ridden parenting, child-want-focused parenting and social norms that see daily treats, celebratory foods and non-hungry eating the regular, rather than occasional occurrence for our kids and ultimately only they and their health will suffer long term.
Susie is one of Australia’s leading nutrionalists. Check out some of the healthy meals she eats. That actually look really yummy. (Post continues after gallery.)
I want you to think back to the 70s and 80s when you were growing up – party food was party food; parents would never purchase expensive snacks from the petrol station and no one cared what the kids wanted to eat, it was not their decision.
Fast forward twenty years and we have lollies as daily rewards, children regularly consulted on what they feel like eating and a kids café culture after school where daily orders or milkshakes, gelato and banana bread act to prop up struggling cafes bottom line enough for them to now stay open until at least 4pm to help lure the after school crowd.