Would you call these healthy food choices?

A couple of weeks ago, my 6 year old daughter brought a letter home from school.  It was one of those promotional letters that so often make it into school bags.  This time it was a Department of Health leaflet promoting healthy eating via their ‘Change 4 Life’ campaign.  Now although we do have lots of treats in our house, food is something that we take quite seriously, as we have a history of severe eczema and food allergies.  So when Miss T asked if she could send off the form at the bottom of the leaflet, I was very proud of the fact that she was taking an interest in what foods she should be eating to stay healthy.

The idea behind this particular promotion is to make it easier for your family to choose healthier options.  They send out money off vouchers so that you can start swapping your unhealthy food habits for more healthy alternatives.

A week later Miss T was very excited when she got back from school and found a letter personally addressed to her.  Ripping it open she pulled out the letter and the attached money off vouchers.  As she can read quite well now I asked her to tell me what they had sent us.

Looking a little puzzled she said, “Mummy I think they have sent us the wrong things!”

Our money off vouchers

Wondering what she was talking about I took a look at the vouchers.  Here is the list of ‘healthy alternatives’ that we received money off vouchers for:

  • 600ml of Pepsi Max
  • Uncle Ben’s microwave in the pot snacks
  • Robinson’s Fruit Squash
  • Flora Light margarine
  • A tin of sweet corn

Ingredients for Pepsi Max:

U.K Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Colour (Caramel E150d), Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K), Phosphoric Acid, Flavourings (Including Caffeine), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Citric Acid.Contains a source of Phenylalanine.

Now I realise that they are trying to promote a diet with a lower sugar and fat content but REALLY?!!!  This is such a dumbing down of a ‘healthy’ diet it makes me very sad.  How can they honestly promote Pepsi Max as a healthy choice?  Why is there no money off fresh foods with maybe a link to a quick and easy recipe?  Aiming this promotion at primary school children and their families and then implying that these are healthy choices just seems absolutely bizarre.

To be honest I’m not that keen on a ‘low fat’ option anyway, especially when it’s aimed at children.  Admittedly there are good fats and bad fats, but the fat in food makes you feel fuller and so it takes you longer before you are hungry again.  Certain fats are important for everything from making hormones to absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.  When manufacturers strip fat from foods to make them ‘low fat’ they are usually left with quite a tasteless product.  So what do they do?  They add more sugar so that the food is palatable.  So in fact many low fat foods actually end up containing the same, if not more calories than the ‘normal’ version.

I do really appreciate that this promotion is aimed at families who may not be making the right food choices, which can be for many reasons – from lack of money to time constraints and that these vouchers are there to help us all make a step in the right direction towards making healthier choices.  It would have just been so much nicer to have seen this opportunity being taken to promoting fresh, REAL food.




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