School holiday snacks

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Sfood-686922_640nacks can be a bit part of the family day out – who doesn’t enjoy an ice-cream at the park on a hot day or a tub of popcorn on a trip to the cinema? But there are many hidden calories in holiday snacks and they soon pile up! Take a tub of popcorn as an example. Many believe that popcorn is a healthy, low fat snack, a great alternative to crisps and chocolate and to some extent that is true. But a lot depends on how the popcorn is cooked and what it’s coated in, not to mention the size of the portion you get through! 60 grams of air-popped popcorn, with nothing added has 232 calories where as a sweetened commercial popcorn can be more than 300 calories. But it’s cinema popcorn that’s the worst! A medium box can contain as much as 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat (3 times your recommended daily allowance!) And a large bag of sweet popcorn weighing 375g could contain as many as 1800 calories. The problem isn’t so much the added butter and sugar but the sheer quantity we tend to be led into purchasing. Whilst these larger sized containers are marketed as sharing tubs, it’s all too easy to munch your way through the whole thing yourself, particularly when distracted by the film!

And all that popcorn can make you thirsty! Have you noticed that the size of drinks at the cinema are getting bigger? When Coke started out in America it was sold in a 5oz bottle. Now the sizes in cinemas can be huge and a large cinema coke can contain as many as 44 teaspoons of sugar!

ice-cream-770994_640And what about when you are out in the great outdoors, enjoying the summer sun? What about ice-cream snacks? Magnums, which are the most popular ice-cream lollies in the UK, can be around 280 calories (for a gold) as can that old classic, a chocolate feast, containing around 280 calories and 20 grams of fat. If you go more for the tubs, a Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream (150ml) can be a whopping 405 calories!

One of the problem we face with these kinds of summer treats is there is limited nutritional information displayed when we are making our choices, and as they are ‘treats’ we often forget we have had them when we come to eat our meals.

But here are some tips to help you avoid the calories whilst still enjoying your snacks with your kids.

1)    Watch out for portion control!!! Even the ‘small’ option may have been considered large a generation ago. So always by the child’s size or the smaller option and share with your children or a friend. You don’t all need to have your own!

2)    Swap fizzy drinks for water. Then the only calories you have to think about is in what you are eating and it’s better for your body.

3)    Instead of choosing chocolates or pic and mix, chose boiled sweets – they will take you longer to eat.

4)    If you want popcorn, make it home with just a teaspoon of oil

5)    Try sorbets rather than premium ice-creams when you need to cool down.

6)    Swap your chocolate ice-creams for fruit based ones. A tropical Solero contains almost a third of the calories of a Magnum! Or go for a ice-lolly rather than ice-cream.