Make Kitchen Memories with the Mini Post #OurKidsAreSweetEnough
Written by Vanessa Brady,
"I love the way that food can instantly transport you to another time & place. And magically to your childhood." - Orlagh O'Reilly, The Mini Post
Lottie has some amazing friends, all over the world - who are inspiring us to make the world a better place for children, right now, in a variety of ways. Meet Orlagh, who champions a simple but effective message that Lottie, loves!
Who are you, and what do you do?
Hello Lottie :) My name is Orlagh, and I am founder and creative director of TheMiniPost
What prompted you to create #OurKidsAreSweetEnough campaign?
Like every busy parent, I really strive to feed my kids well and I find it increasingly difficult to navigate the world of food and food packaging. Foods that are specifically marketed as 'healthy kids' products and targeted at parents with this message are particularly misleading. Many smart, savvy Mothers have shared their similar frustration so I wanted to do something that could help us all tackle it together. Some parents are all over it and really understand it all, others aren't. I want more information, I want more help because I just want to do right by my kids in the time and means that I have.
#OurKidsAreSweetEnough is a positive space to inspire Mothers with knowledge, information + inspiration in food awareness. Creating a database and community for us all to access and contribute to by simply using the hashtag.
What simple steps can parents take to be more mindful about sugar content?
Do not trust what you read on the front of a packet. Turn it over and read the ingredients. The front of packets will scream '100% Natural' 'No refined Sugars' 'Organic' These all may be true, but what you need to read is the amount of sugar or the other ingredients in there. Laws are very 'light' which allows producers to put images of juicy strawberries on the front or write 'organic' even though it could be strawberry concentrate or the tiniest organic ingredient in the product.
Initially, I found the lists daunting, so I started googling to help me understand and measuring out the sugar. When you physically see the amount, you immediately understand. It really hits home when you see a tiny mountain of sugar. Which in some cases, as a parent you have been unknowingly giving to your kids every day.
It's important to understand that some sugars are naturally occurring in products like yoghurt, others are added unnecessarily by food producers. And that's what is baffling, why do food producers 'add' sugar to any product for children? They argue that it is for the flavour of course but this is a weak argument to my mind. Natural occurring sugars are enough, they don't need to meddle with taste, therefore, meddling with our children's taste palette.
The issue is that they then market their products as 'healthy' and create misleading packaging to essentially trick and distract the consumer.
Sugar in whatever form it is ingested regularly, causes tooth decay and leads to serious issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes in children. No parent wants that for their children.
I think it's important to say, once you are aware and understand, as a parent you then have the control. You can navigate the food aisles. You can then decide how much and when to give certain products to your children. For example, a lot of parents might give a pot of natural children's yoghurt (and I don't mean the obvious sugary ones) after dinner in the evening, thinking it's a healthy choice. But with the amount of hidden sugar, it is going to leave you with very bouncy kids before bed. But once you understand there is a huge amount of sugar in it, you have the power to choose and decide when to give it to them. Foods targeted at kids with added sugar should have to be transparent about the sugar content and clearly communicate this on their packaging. Currently, they mislead us all with messages like ‘no refined white sugar’ even though there could be 7.6gs of other sugars. So the big message is - don’t be fooled by the front of the package - turn it over and read whats really inside. And remember sugar is sugar regardless. It still does the same damage.
How do you encourage your children to enjoy good food?
Food is most definitely to be enjoyed. I love the way food defines times and family occasions. So for example birthday parties are a time for big sugar bomb cakes & buns & sweets. Easter, Christmas, special occasions are all marked by foods and we are making wonderful childhood memories for our children through food. Every Sunday without fail my Mother made an apple tart, and I have lovely memories of not only eating it - but the smells from the kitchen, helping her crumble the pastry in my fingers and cutting out shapes. I now try to do this most Sundays. It's the only day of the week we have dessert, so everyone really looks forward to it, and it feels special.
And I guess like everything else, kids copy you. They want to do what they see you doing, so if they see you enjoying food they will too.
Of course, the other thing to do is bring kids along to farms and growers, and let them see first hand where their food comes from. It's easy to do, for example, every kid on the planet loves strawberry picking. For them, it's fun and without realising they are learning that strawberries grow on a little bush in the ground. Its a valuable experience of seeing where their food comes from. Kids are inquisitive and they will naturally start asking where other foods come from and how they are grown.
Schools have brilliant 'Grow Our Own' programs which get the kids planting at school. Personally, I've seen the value and enjoyment they get from this. They come home so excited and tell you all the tiny details of what is happening with their plant.
Most lovely of all is eating together as a family but not always possible with busy schedules. Do it as often as you can. In our house, it's mostly chaotic but being together as a family and all the noisy chatter that goes with family mealtimes is what childhood memories are made of.
I've discovered that all get kids love being in the kitchen. It's really easy to get them involved regardless of age. Toddlers love standing up at a sink washing everything from potatoes to spinach. Older kids love been given a knife and asked to chop carrots. It makes them feel good, feel important and gives them ownership of the meal they help prepare. It doesn't necessarily mean they will eat those carrots ;) but eventually, they will and they understand that the food doesn't miraculously appear in front of them. Understanding the work involved will hopefully make them more respectful and appreciate food, where it comes from and how it is prepared.
Lottie Dolls are focused on childhood, and a healthy take on positive body image – have you got any suggestions, based on personal experience, on how families can encourage children to have a healthy take on body image?
Kids soak up what they see around them, what they see and hear every day, so be positive about your body in front of them. Don’t use tags like fat or skinny. It's probably the most important lesson we can impart to our children, to help them be comfortable and confident in their own skin and who they are.
Lovely insight into the tales of fun family and food from kind and empowering Orlagh! Follow her adventures on @theminipost and join the movement using #ourkidsaresweetenough
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