Tweens at the table

How to avoid a food-fuelled power struggle, and find healthy options that work for the whole family

“I’m worried that my kids aren’t eating well, that they’re not getting the right nutrition,” says Thami Cele*, a 35-year-old mom of two boys aged 6 and 8 years old. “I try, but getting my picky eaters to eat healthy food is a real struggle.

Tween: Short for ‘tweenager’.

Noun: A youngster who is in between stages – too old to be considered a child, but too young to be classified as a teenager, and usually with very particular taste.

And Thami isn’t alone. Today, both parents and kids are faced with a million new pressures and together their to-do lists never seem to end, what with work, school, sport, after-school activities, plus the high social and societal expectations that come with modern day life. We’re busier than ever before.

“It’s not surprising that today’s time-poor parents have a hard time getting a wholesome meal on the table, never mind getting their kids to actually eat it,” says Nomawethu Vumazonke Danone Brand Manager: Kids : That’s right, it’s not just time that’s against parents, its kids themselves.

As most parents will tell you, from the day they’re able to eat solids, children are keen on sugary drinks and junk food. And with convenience food so easily accessible, they’re easily able to grab chips and a chocolate at the tuck shop. So how do we meet our kids half way, without feeling like we’re failing as parents?

Danone’s Yo-Jelly is South Africa’s only yoghurt and jelly snack currently in market that combines the best of both worlds. This makes it a healthier and tastier treat that kids can enjoy any time of day, guilt-free. “Its options like these that make sense for both kids and parents,” says Nomawethu. “Made with 11 added vitamins, 30% more milk and 30% less sugar, moms get peace of mind of knowing that their kids are getting the right nutrition while the kids are able to enjoy a treat bursting with flavour. It’s a win-win situation,” she says.

Here are a few practical tips to get tweens* to enjoy a fight-free, balanced diet:

  1. Don’t stress yourself out. Tween food choices shouldn’t become a family argument. Accept that your tweens have developed their own sense of taste, take a deep breath, and pick your battles wisely. Asking your tween to ‘just try it’ is a good starting point, and if they then decide they still don’t want to eat what you’ve dished up, respect their decision. But don’t cave in by allowing them to eat hotdogs for dinner instead.
  2. Load up on fruit. Make sure it’s always available. It’s a simple, nutritious, cost-effective snack. And don’t just stick with apples and bananas – look at what’s in season and mix it up. Think juicy pears, paw-paw, watermelon, mango and oranges. Got some time on your hands? Make a fruit salad together.
  3. Blend, blend, blend! If you have a blender, use it. Who doesn’t love a delicious smoothie? It’s a quick and easy way to get fruit and veg into your tweens. Carrots, spinach, and beetroot all make for super colourful smoothies, and the taste is easily disguised by fruit and yoghurt. Pour into a cool straw cup and watch them down it.
  4. Freeze it. Homemade frozen lollies make for a healthy treat on a hot day. Here’s an ice lolly hack for busy parents – open a pack of Danone Yo-Jelly, put a stick in each one, leave in the freezer to set, and there’s your ready-made lolly.
  5. Don’t ban the ‘bad stuff’. This will only make your tween want it more. We want to teach our children that everything is okay in moderation. A treat is just that, a treat.

Yo-Jelly takes the friction out of food in the household because it is trusted by moms, loved by kids and provides the best kind of nutrition for a jam-packed day. With kid-approved flavours like strawberry, granadilla, crème soda and pineapple, Yo-Jelly is the coolest treat on the block. It is available at most retailers at a Recommended Retail Price of R13, 99.

*Not her real name.

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