Every day, during children's lunch time, I see an unhealthy amount of food and drink being consumed by children. The usual are chips, lollies, biscuits, jellies and flavoured drinks. What most of them have in common is the high sugar content and artificial colours and flavourings.
Too much sugar can give children hyperactivity, obesity and Type II diabetes. I'm not one of those people who say to ditch the sugar altogether. Just eat naturally sugary food, as with anything else, in moderation.
Teachers usually complain of children bouncing off the walls just after they come in from recess and lunch. Do you wonder why? I have children who are like this all the time. They could have ADHD or they could be the kinaesthetic types who can't sit still. But, it could be just the food.
Isn't it better for parents to try to change their child's food habits then to go to the doctor and get prescribed medicine? For children like these I usually recommend that parents stop giving them the lollies, biscuits, cakes, jellies and flavoured drinks. Those that do follow the advice usually find that their child is much calmer.
I know how parents can be busy and can't prepare healthy food from scratch every day. I'm one myself. But when I do buy packaged food, I make sure that it is more healthy than unhealthy. Here are some ways that I try to do this:
1. Buy organic. Organic food can be expensive but when you can, try to buy organic as it will be GMO free. This means that it has not been genetically modified so your children's health will less likely be affected by unknown illnesses.
2. Go natural. Choose products that have mainly natural ingredients.
3. Read the ingredients. The less the ingredients on the list will mean that it will be closer to its natural product.
4. Avoid chemicals. These are the artificial flavours, colours, preservatives and other additives. All chemicals are bad, just keep away from them or eat as little as possible.
5. Avoid added sugar. Sugar may be natural but if it doesn't come from the original product but added on afterwards then don't buy it. This is what I call unnecessary sugar.
It's a lot easier to change children's eating habits when they're younger. If you have a baby, start right now so you can train him/her to have a less sugary palette and an appreciation of more natural food. You will also give him/her a healthier life, insha Allah.