As a parent, whilst trying to do the whole ‘keep child alive’ thing, with a side order of ‘nurture their creativity, support them in their journey of discovery, and try and meet their needs in a kind and compassionate manner’-otherwise known as ‘winging it’, what I do not need is anyone making my life more confusing, or tricking me into thinking I’m doing something I am not.
The inspiration for this post came the other day, when sitting at a Soft Play (with actual homemade food and decent coffee, thank you Fun tots). I was sharing a Brownie with my daughter. I deliberately chose a Brownie, as opposed to the “healthy” alternatives. And not a ‘black bean sweet potato brownie’, I’m talking about the real Mccoy.
The most popular combo kids often have is a juice such as a Robinsons fruit shoot, and a dried fruit based snack, something like a fruit bowl school bar (7g sugar per 20g bar) . Or perhaps they prefer some fruit bowl yogurt flakes (13g sugar in a 21g serve-that’s over 50% sugar), oa pack of fruit Yoyos (the dried fruit roll snack 3.7g sugar p/10g pack), or some fruit factory fruit strings (9.6g sugar in a 20g serve).These ‘healthy treats’ tout ‘no added sugar’ ‘100% real fruit’. Don’t get me wrong, I love fruit, and it’s vast range of nutrient benefits, I also love cake. What I don’t love is living in a world where in between wrangling our toddler, and feeding our families, we are required to scrutinise food labels through sleep deprived eyes.
One 20g pack of fruit bowl bars has the same amount of sugar weight for weight as 20g of brownie with around 7g sugar. Now lets add in that ‘all natural’ fruit shoot with 18g of sugar in a 200ml bottle. So now that healthy snack is 25g of sugar, which exceeds the WHO guidelines for daily total sugar intake for 4-6year olds (19g). Plus there’s no protein, and no fat, so these sugars are going to give one hell of high and offer little else, except hunger pangs an hour or so later. Whilst your average brownie will contain around 5g of protein and 15g of fat in an adult 100g portion.
And if that Brownie is handmade (because homemade treats are always the tastiest), chances are it won’t contain more than five ingredients, and zero preservatives. A little more appealing than the contents of a pack of Fruit Bowl Yoghurt Flakes: Yogurt Flavoured Coating (60%): [Sugar, Palm Fat, Whey Powder (Milk), Rice Flour, Yogurt Powder (Milk) (5%), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithins), Glazing Agent (Shellac, Gum Arabic)], Fruit Flakes (40%): [Concentrated Apple Puree, Fructose-Glucose Syrup, Strawberry Puree, Sugar, Gluten Free Wheat Fibre, Palm Fat, Gelling Agent (Pectin), Concentrated Aronia Juice, Acidity Regulator (Malic Acid), Natural Flavouring (An average of 206g Apple, 13g Strawberry and 4g Aronia used to prepare 100g of Fruit Flakes)].
My point is not to say anyone is doing the wrong thing. Sometimes convenience and minimal mess trump all. As does whatever avoids a mega meltdown. Nor do I wish to demonise fruit, the WHO Guidelines specifically state that their guidelines focus on free sugars , as opposed to intrinsic sugars (found in whole fruit and veg). And unfortuantely I can’t find conclusive evidence to suppor Brownies being an essential daily element of a balanced diet-but I am still working on that one. I wrote this because it pisses me off that as parents we are all trying to do our best, and when we try and pick the healthy option, it seems incredibly unfair that the facts are actually a little harder to interpret! Plus who doesn’t want another reason to eat Brownies?