I have to confess to having quite a sweet tooth. Luckily for me, my son doesn’t appear to have inherited it, generally preferring chips over chocolate and cereal over ice cream, but it would be fair to say that he probably still has an unhealthy amount of sugar on a day to day basis. And now that the war on sugar is well and truly underway with big-name figures such as Jamie Oliver weighing in on the debate, I’m wondering if it’s time to re-think even the relatively limited amount of sweetness he actually gets in favour of a much less dolce vita.
Our editors watched That Sugar Film and came back horrified at the effects of sugar on the human body. The science movie has been criticised and even the supposed ‘sugar rush’ effect on kids has also been proved to be incorrect but the fact remains that we are all getting fatter and sicker and something has to be causing this. Looking at how I eat now compared to 40 years ago, I have far more access to chips, chocolates, sweets and fizzy drinks. Partly from an income perspective, but also from availability and choice.
When you shop in UK supermarkets, you’ll discover that a chocolate bar is no longer just a chocolate bar – it’s also a cupcake, a mini-version, a maxi-version, a milky-drink, a yoghurt and an ice cream! Coming soon to a supermarket near you…..
Well if all these things do turn up in SA, at least they won’t be in the checkout aisles at Woolies anymore. Woolworths have taken the decision to remove all the sweets from their checkout aisles in all new stores and to reduce availability in older stores as well. Which is great news for parents concerned about ‘pester power’ at the end of an irritating shop - just as long as they don’t replace all these sweeties with hidden sugar items such as energy drinks, 'health' bars and fruit lollies, all of which are little better than Chuckles with less of the taste.
I’m not a great parent – some days I definitely feel worse than others – but Jamie, Woolies, health-related films and more, are convincing me that I need to try harder to keep sugar in all its forms as low as I can in my family. So now I water the fruit juice down and only allow one sweet drink a day. I try and cook as much as possible and only resort to fish fingers and processed, bulked-up-with-corn-starch foods once or twice a week and I heroically sacrifice my own health by eating all my son’s party packs when he’s not looking. The fact that I really love pink Fizzers has nothing to do with my altruistic eating habits here.
But I’m not going to ban all sweet treats – if he doesn’t learn to regulate his intake for himself whilst he’s still in my care, then heaven help him when he leaves home and has the money and the opportunity to make his own choices. My mother always says ‘A little of what you fancy does you good.’ And as long as I can keep the sweet stuff down to as little as possible, I think things will be okay in the end.