Saturday, July 21, 2007

Avoiding the Advertising Hype

Advertising of fast foods, especially on television, has reached epidemic proportions. There are ads to tempt you, or your children, during almost every ad break! How to avoid being 'sucked in' is becoming quite a problem for some families. Children learn the 'nag value' early in life and sometimes parents just give in for a little bit of peace. Of course, this is just what the advertisers want. Because once you start, it is very hard to stop the 'merry-go-round' of 'fast food' meals.

It is shocking to see the queues heading outside the doors of some well known fast food places at tea-time. I have on more than one occasion seen someone I know standing in the queue when I have gone to buy food and seen them still waiting when I get back to the car. Smart advertising and being busy will keep you in the queue, waiting your life and waistline (and money) away. So will the gimmicks they advertise to get the kids in - that toy that is tied to the newest movie just released that all kids simply MUST have.

The best thing you can do when these ads come on is to mute them and talk to your family during that time. When our children were small, as we saw the ice-cream van on the side of the road we immediately pointed out anything of interest (even if we made it up) on the other side of the road. Worked almost every time.

If your children are caught up in the peer pressure and 'I must have' wave, a firm no nonsense "no" will work - perhaps not the first or second time you say it, but if you keep repeating it often enough and firmly enough, it will eventually get through. Hey - who's the adult here; who pays for the food. When your children are old enough to pay for their own food that's different. Hopefully the message will have got through by then.

Children's eating habits will be formed through you, the parent. Have plenty of fresh fruit available for snacking (during and after school) and teach them the 'king, prince, pauper' method of eating. (Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner.) This way they will start the school day with a body and brain properly fed and ready for learning. A hungry child can't concentrate at school - I know because I went to school hungry many times. If necessary, get your child up earlier to eat a decent breakfast and make sure it is healthy. No sugar filled cereals or fatty bacon or sausages. A good plain cereal with tinned or fresh fruit, a boiled egg and toast will set your child up till morning tea time. Many good recipe or diet books will have breakfast variations in them.

Lunch can be salads and a tin of tuna, a sandwich or pita bread for variety. There are many types of healthy breads available - look in your local bakery instead of the supermarket, you will be surprised.

Aim for low GI foods- they will keep you and your child feeling fuller for longer.

Save the cakes, biscuits or lollies till the visit to grandma and grandpa or someone's birthday party. Snacking on these will stack on the weight.

Give your child water to drink - bottled water has far fewer calories than any fizzy drink, is cheaper, doesn't stick to the hips or rot the teeth.

If you need to take your child shopping with you, make sure both of you have eaten before you get there. If you both are full you are less likely to impulse buy sweets or potato chips or drinks to munch on while you're shopping. Have a shopping list and stick to it.

For a program on losing weight and keeping healthy, go to

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