Mum's the Word: Trick or treat? Getting kids to eat the good stuff can prove scary

All parents have endless battles trying to get their kids to eat good food and I am sure I am not the only one plagued by endless requests for treats. Joan asks so often I have grown to hate the word. Also I am tired of hearing myself say “No!” or “It’s not a treat if you have it every single day.”

I do, however, admire the parents who seem to have it sussed. Either they limit treats to once or twice a week and that is all the kids have ever known, which is very smart. Or the kids actually don’t crave them like one pal of Joan’s who just doesn’t want or ask for sweet stuff. I marvel at it, truth be told!

When I was a kid I think my parents did a good job limiting sweets and sugar.

Our treats were pop tarts occasionally and in the summer months we could choose whatever cereal we wanted. I loved Captain Crunch and honestly I am surprised I have any teeth left, it was so sticky and crunchy and most definitely not good for you.

When we were really little my parents had a trick of renaming things so we would buy into them. One that really sticks in my mind is they mixed a tiny bit of coke with mainly water and came up with the slightly dubious name of party coke! I inherited this trick and it meant that when Joan was small I could easily convince her certain things were treats.

My fave was sliced apples with cinnamon which I called sugar apples. Or bananas cut up in a bowl with a few chocolate chips — ‘special bananas’.

But as Joan is getting older (and more vocal) I find it harder to deal with constant battles over treats. She is particularly hungry and impatient when she gets home from school and turns her nose up at offers of fruit or yoghurts until dinner is ready.

It usually results in her saying she is going to starve to death and pouting until dinner is actually ready. The days where I can have food ready to go when she gets home are better, it cuts out that hour of arguing and gets her filled with the good stuff before she starts asking for the not so good stuff.

The other trick is just not to have it in the house. If it isn’t there, they can’t have it and will eventually stop asking for it. We do go through good periods of this but inevitably, ice cream or jellies will make their way back into the house and they are noticed as soon as they do!

The third trick which I continually have a go at is making healthy versions of treats. I tried and tried over the last few years to pass off numerous super-oat-chia seeds-no-sugar-date square or ball type things as treats or offer healthy muffins with carrot and courgette for her to enjoy, but she doesn’t buy into it, not one bit. I can’t tell you how many healthy cookies/bread/lollipops have gone unloved into the bin or resulted in me eating it all.

But I kept at it and finally after lots of trial and errors have landed on a few ‘treats’ she does devour and that are actually good for her. Two in particular that are very simple and easy to make your own versions of, I will share with you now.

Frozen Ice Lollies

Sweetened soy milk blended with strawberries and bananas and frozen — voila!

Energy balls

Peanut butter, honey, chia seeds, oats, dissected coconut, coca nibs/chocolate chips. Mix until sticky, put in the fridge for half an hour and then roll into balls. I’ve added cranberries and ground flaxseed at times and she always goes for them.

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