There is no doubt in my mind that I eat way too much sugar, and probably, too much salt. It is so easy as an adult to forget that we need to look after ourselves and as a busy mum of two, I find myself snacking on biscuits, drinking too much tea and not really factoring in how much bad stuff is within them, because they quite simply, get me through the day!
With the kids though – well, it’s completely different. I try so hard to limit their sugar intake, and especially their salt intake. We all know children shouldn’t eat too much salt and so for example, if I am making mashed potato for all of us, I do ours and theirs separately because my tastebuds can’t quite adhere to non-salted potatoes!
It can be quite stressful to monitor how much is going into them though – especially with Zach. He is five and so he knows his own mind. He likes to have ketchup with his meals, and he would rather have beans over veg. I regularly have to put my foot down and make sure he has veg and doesn’t have ketchup all of the time.
Something that has made the worry and monitoring a lot easier is the new Change4Life Food Scanner app. It’s quite simply a barcode scanner, which tells you in pictures how much sugar, salt and saturated fats are within the food you are choosing. I have been using it for a few days now and I absolutely love it.
The first thing I did when I downloaded it, was go into my cupboards, fridge and freezer and start scanning all the foods that we have and eat on a regular occasion. I’m not going to lie…it was super fun and rather quite surprising! Some of the things I was always feeling a little guilty about came up as being under 100 calories and lower in sugar than I thought – giving me the green light to give them to the boys! Change4Life have a saying – “100 calorie snacks, two a day max”. Nice and easy to remember for me and for Zach!
Some of the things that surprised me were the Petit Filous that are always in the fridge, malt loaf which the boys (and I) absolutely love, and the Kingsmill pancakes that I have always thought were probably bad for them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I am suddenly going to give them to them all of the time and not feel guilty, they obviously contain sugar and salt – but it’s nice to know that these are counted as healthier snacks.
One of the big things that has been slightly influential, is being able to show Zach exactly what is in the food he is eating. As I mentioned above, he is a fan of ketchup (despite me not actually giving it to him until he as about four!), and he is always asking for one more dollop, a little bit more, and not quite understanding why I try to limit how much he has, and why I am always telling him to dip his food carefully rather than dunk the whole thing in it! Now I have shown him exactly how much sugar and salt is in a bottle and he now understands why I am so rigorous with how much of it he eats. He even said to his dad the other night when they were discussing his day at bedtime;
Daddy, I don’t want to eat too much ketchup because the sugar goes to the top of the screen.
Bingo! He gets it. And I noticed that the next time I put ketchup on his plate at dinner time, he told me that the dollop I had done was enough, he dipped very carefully, and he managed to eat a whole meal using less than the initial dollop that I had given him. I was so chuffed!
He really loves the app too and finds it the most fun to scan things and watch the sugar cubes load up, or the saturated fat dollops appear, and the salt sachets build up. I can see that it is really going to help him to understand the good things and the bad things within food. He even made me stand in Sainsbury’s the other day to scan the pizza that he sometimes has as a special treat (when mumma is feeling lazy!) to see how much bad stuff is in it because we didn’t have the box at home to check it the other day!
It is definitely great to be able to stand in the shop and quickly scan what I am buying to check the contents, and to see whether there is a healthier alternative to choose. Not all products are on there yet, I guess because there are so many products out there, but more are being added all of the time. And there is even a button that takes you to your previous scan so you can compare and look back on what you have already checked.
It is also great that it is helping Zach to understand that there can be too much of a bad thing within the food he eats, or wants to eat. I am definitely going to continue using the app now it’s on my phone, and hopefully, I will see a change in all of our eating habits because of it (although I haven’t dared to scan the chocolate biscuits yet!).