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Parents Panel: What rules do you have about sugar and junk food in your house?

Homemade alternatives, Friday treat days and a total fizzy drinks ban.


AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched TheJournal.ie Parents Panel.

With trick-or-treating time just a few days away, we’re asking our panel about their attitude to sweets and treats: What rules do you have about sugar and junk food in your house?

We caught up with some of them at home, so check out the video below, and read on for more responses.

Source: Journal Media Studio/YouTube

I dole out their Halloween treats over a couple of months
I do buy one bag of sweets in the weekly shopping every week and this lasts the full week between the four kids. Around Easter, Christmas and Halloween, I ration the holiday treats to last for a couple of months, something that my kids do not thank me for!

- Susannah O’Brien

If they overdo it, I remove sweet things from the press
We always have treats like sweets, biscuits and crisps in the house, but there are plenty of yogurts, cheese and fruits as well. I don’t limit their sugar intake but I would watch it carefully and if I thought they were overdoing it on the sweet things they would very quickly disappear from the press.

- Denise Cumiskey

I have a sweet tooth – but I don’t eat chocolate around him
I’m absolutely addicted to sweets and chocolate and have been fighting it my whole adult life, so I’d like Tymek to be free from that problem. I wouldn’t eat chocolate around him and he had no shop-bought sweets for the first year of his life. Now that he’s 18 months old, we’ve relaxed a tiny bit about the sugar intake. He tried his first birthday cake and that was his first proper treat.

- Marta Lisiecka

shutterstock_472729900 Source: Shutterstock/IVASHstudio

Sugary drinks turn them into irritable wrecks
On our house we control the kids’ sugar intake a lot.  Early on, we noticed that if they drank cordial they would turn into irritable, cross, emotional wrecks. Following a little research on the topic, we cut the cordials from the house. That was a big watershed moment. At parties, we let them go with the flow and have whatever, but at home they only get a Friday treat and one after dinner ‘goodie’ like a single chocolate biscuit. They relish it.

- Alan Dooley

We don’t use treats as rewards
Our son is three and we allow some treats in moderation, but we really do mean moderation.  We don’t use treats as rewards, but sometimes he will get one just because. To be honest, he likes the idea of chocolate and sweets a lot more than when he gets them. If he’s not hungry, he will leave some behind him. I wish I had his self control!

- Olly Keegan

My first-born had zero sugar early on
We had a complete sugar-free junk-free approach to our first born. She never got sugar so she never missed it or asked for it. They do get the odd biscuit now, but we never call them ‘treats’ and we avoid using sugar to reward or bribe them. I know it will not last forever but as long as we’re in control that’s how it will go.

- Denise

shutterstock_687170803 Source: Shutterstock/Ann in the uk

High-sugar drinks are a no-no
One of Nathan’s medications for his juvenile idiopathic arthrits has the side effect of weakening the enamel of his teeth, so avoiding sugar is very important for him. That means no high-sugar fizzy drinks, so he’ll have low sugar/no sugar fruit juices instead, or maybe something like Sprite Zero.

- Ken Hyland

Rules that are too strict can backfire
I have a wicked sweet tooth myself but definitely want to establish healthy eating habits for Charlie as he grows up. I don’t want to make it a huge deal either though, as extremely strict rules can often backfire. I think we’ll need to allow for grandparents to sneak chocolates and for him to partake at parties when there are treats on offer.

- Kait Quinn

I have asked the grandparents not to offer her sweets
This is a topic that makes me quite anxious! My husband has quite a sweet tooth but I am determined to keep sweets and sugar in general out of Clíodhna’s diet for as long as possible. It is still easy at the moment as he is only six months and is easily distracted. I have asked the grandparents not to start offering her ‘treats’ but it remains to be seen whether they will abide by that or not…

- Riona Flood

Friday is treat day at school
They are all very good at eating fruit so we often deflect their sweet interest that way, but we don’t use fruit as a ‘treat.’ Friday is treat day at school so they usually get jellies, and aside from that we give treats when appropriate, sometimes as incentives. Granny’s jelly-filled jacket pockets are always open to raiding though… there is nothing we can do about that!

- Ross Boxshall

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