A Dublin based dietician has warned parents they need to break the habit of rewarding children with sugary treats.
Orla Walsh, said after the splurge on selection boxes over Christmas, now is the time to break the habit.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent she said: ‘It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it’.
‘The whole family must change and parents need to lead by example. If there’s no junk food in the home, what choice do the kids have? If it’s not there, they can’t access it.’
The problem is withdrawing sugar has been linked to mood mood swings, headaches, cravings and even flu-like symptoms
‘The greater the withdrawal, the more necessary it is,’ Orla explained.
‘But when children eat well, their energy levels improve and so too does sleep and mood so it’s in the parents’ best interests to wean them off high-sugar foods!’
And the best way to improve their mood after being hit with a January detox?
‘Through exercise,’ Orla suggested.
‘Get your kids playing outside and their mindless eating will naturally reduce due to the distraction and physical distance from food.’
And she says the whole idea of using treats to reward children should be binned.
‘If a child is getting one or two treats a day, it is no longer a treat. It’s simply an unhealthy habit,’ she said.
‘Don’t reward children with food; they’re not dogs. For small kids a round of applause, a sticker or a hug is all the reward they need.
‘For older kids it’s simple things like the promise of an extra chapter read to them at night or a play date with friends.’