How to handle your child’s sugar craving

Is your child constantly craving for sweets and chocolate?

Is your child begging you to buy him sweets at the supermarket?

Is your child eating sweets and hiding the wrapping under his bed?

If your child is constantly craving sugary foods, you might be worried. As a result, you might be experiencing fear or anxiety that your child is developing a sugar addiction. As a parent you might adopt statements like “eat less sweets”, “eat sweets in moderation” or “avoid all sweets.” In fact, some parents may fall into the “no sweets at all” removing any food that contains sugars from home, hoping to improve their child’s situation with sugary foods.

This scenario of food restriction, although done with good intentions, can cause your child to lose their sense of hunger and fullness. They may overeat when those limited foods become available. This may happen when children are away from the watchful eyes of mom and dad. For example, if your child slips into the kitchen when you go change out the laundry, this may be a sign of food sneaking. If you find hidden wrappers under the bed, this too, may be a concerning sign.

In addition, kids may become “obsessed” with the foods that are limited or forbidden.

Over time, feelings of deprivation may set in. Kids may feel left out or deprived when they don’t have the freedom to choose what or how much they want to eat. Like adults, kids want what they can’t or don’t have. In other words, if you take away the sweets your child cannot stop thinking about sweets! In my dietetic practice, I’ve seen the research evidence come true when restrictive eating is imposed on kids. Restrictive feeding promotes overeating.

Kids are naturally drawn to sweets, so it isn’t their fault if they like to eat them. It’s not your fault either. Don’t blame your child or yourself if his taste buds like sweets. You can offer sweets every day and it is ok. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests no more than 5% of daily total calories should come from added sugar. In other words, the WHO advises families to keep sweets to one or two items per day if the child is a healthy, normally growing, and active child.

In conclusion, it is best to accept it as a natural part of the childhood nutrition experience. As you might have noticed by now from my other blogs, I am totally against restriction in adults and this counts for toddlers and children as well.



Nutrition in children

Importance of good nutrition in children

In Malta, our children have one of the highest BMI in the world, after USA. Although there is plenty of information at our fingertips, it can be difficult to conclude what a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle would look like for your unique child. In order to implement a sustainable and healthy lifestyle for your child, it is important to understand what good nutrition consists of, how it can affect childhood development, and the steps you can take to ensure your child is on-board with the diet.


How nutrition affects children?

A proper nutritional diet and healthy lifestyle can affect young children throughout the rest of their lives. During early development, children are highly impressionable and start to implement routines and tools that they carry with them into adulthood. Aside from habits and routines created, children who do not obtain proper nutrients as they develop, can suffer from physical and medical conditions. Some of the most common issues for malnourished children include obesity, osteoporosis, decreased muscle mass, changes in hair volume and texture, fatigue, irritability, and type 2 diabetes.

Overweight and obesity are a growing epidemic affecting children at an alarming rate. Overweight and obesity refers when children have excess body fat. Children who do not have a well-balanced diet and consume high amounts of fat, sugar, and processed carbohydrates are at risk of obesity. Obesity can lead to several health problems that can affect children for the rest of their lives including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol and emotional problems. Young children are highly impressionable and can be subject to body shame and emotional issues linked to the food they consume.

The choices that children and parents make early on regarding nutrition and lifestyle can affect children for the rest of their lives. As most people reach their peak bone mass at age 20, it is important to build muscle and bone mass during the early stages of childhood. Children who are overweight tend to have fatigue and irritability that can lead to depression. Children that are overweight have difficulty with physical activity. This can cause emotional isolation and can set the groundwork for poor social interactions and low self-esteem. Overall, a well-balanced and healthy nutritional diet is of utmost importance in developing children.


What is the best nutrition?

Nutrition for children is based on the same core principles as nutrition for adults. The five main food groups include grains, dairy, protein, vegetables, and fruit, and are generally a good starting point for any diet. The portions of each respective food group will depend heavily on age, genetic makeup, and physical activity. In other words, all children can eat the same type of foods but with different portion sizes.

Grains: can be split into two categories: whole and refined grains. Whole grains are more nutritious because they contain more vitamins and minerals therefore, whole grains tend to be a better option. Some examples of refined grains include cereal, tortillas, white bread, and white rice.

Vegetables: can be raw, cooked, dehydrated, canned, whole, juiced, or mashed and are separated into 5 subcategories including dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. The portion size of each will depend on which subcategory it belongs to considering that some vegetables are more nutrient dense and nutrient packed than others.

Fruit: Fruit can be canned, frozen, dried, pureed, or juiced. Due to the high sugar content of fruit, it is advisable to construct a dietary balance based on age, activity levels, and gender.

Protein and diary: The protein food group is made up of foods that are primarily protein sources such as meat, poultry, beans, peas, eggs, seafood, and nuts. It is advisable that meat and poultry sources be lean and low fat. All fluid milk products and products made primarily from milk belong to the dairy food group. This includes items such a milk, yogurt, and cheese. In recent years, dairy has been a controversial member of the food group and as such, many nutritionally comparable dairy alternatives have been provided with greater nutritional value. As such, this group also contains fortified dairy-alternative products such as soy, almond, and cashew milk and nut cheeses.

Lack of calcium absorption can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that results in porous, weak, and brittle bones. Contrary to popular belief, Calcium is not best obtained through traditional dairy milk. This is because the calcium provided in dairy milk is less bioavailable to developing bodies. It is best to obtain calcium through dark leafy greens like kale and broccoli.

Ideally, children start their day with breakfast in the morning, lunch at around lunchtime and dinner in the evening. Healthy snacks should also be included in between meals. These may vary according to the level of physical activities and any medical conditions such as waking up with heart burn, obesity, diabetes, picky eating, etc.

In conclusion, research shows that it is best to avoid battles over food and meals. Ideally, parents provide regular snacks and meals. Children can be picky and, at times, avoidant or inflexible. If your young child refuses certain foods, it is best to let it go and try again at another time. Chances are, they will start to warm up to the options provided. As previously mentioned, young children are developing their independence and opinions and, as such, they are subject to vary.

Based on the age and unique genetic makeup of your child, their diet and lifestyle may look different and have emphasis on certain nutritional guidelines during one age range and much different guidelines during another. If, in doubt about your child’s diet always seek professional advice from a dietitian.


Low Carbs or No Carbs?

Low carbs or no carbs?

We ask or believe if carbs are good for health or not? Should we consume carbs or should we eliminate them completely from our diet? We should evaluate the positive and negative effects of carbohydrates on our health.

Search on the web about carbs and you will find any type of suggestions for a normal, low or no carb diet. With no doubt you will find doctors, health professionals, gym instructors and food bloggers who agrees with low carb intake but what is the evidence about this?


How low carb diets originated?

The trend for a low carbohydrate diet started in 2015, during an episode of Doctor in the House showed on the BBC. The emphasis was on removing carbohydrates for diabetic patients emphasizing removal of wheat and diary products, fasting and eating 5 portions of vegetables a day without any fruit. As a result, this followed by a speech from Dr Mellor on behalf of the British Dietetic Association (BDA), who advised:

‘This advice is potentially dangerous with possible adverse side effects. Not only is there limited evidence around carbohydrate elimination but cutting out food groups could lead to nutrition problems, including nutrient deficiencies.’

Despite the BDA advice, the media continues to recommend low carbohydrate diets especially for type 2 diabetes (T2DM). This trend also follows in Malta with a lot of people trying different types of diets, from low carb diets to keto diets, experimenting what might work.

In the Eatwell Guide, the recommendation is to have a large portion (45 – 65%) of the diet from starchy carbohydrates. The low carbohydrate diets can be definied:

  • Normal carbohydrate intake = 250g per day
  • Low CHO intake = 136g per day
  • Very low CHO intake = 50g per day
How a low carbohydrate diet works?


Low carb diets are known for weight loss for a short period of time. If, you happen to have tried low carb diets I think you agree that they work for weight loss. But what happens in your body? When not enough carbohydrates are supplied to your body, the metabolic pathways of the body changes converting protein to carbohydrates. As a result, the lost kilos on your weighing scale will be lost from your muscles and not your fat stores leading to a decrease in metabolic rate. In addition, when the short period of diet pass and you re-introduced carbs you will experience a rapid weight gain due to the decrease in metabolism from the previous diet.


Where do we find carbohydrates in food?
Starchy Carbohydrates Simple Carbohydrates
Cereals Fruit Sweets
Bread Vegetables Chocolate
Pasta Milk & dairy products Cakes
Rice Fruit juices Soft drinks

carbohydrate rich food

Carbohydrates and health


Carbohydrates are important for your health because:

  1. Provide energy
  • Your brain cells are only happy when they use carbohydrates as fuel. When the brain does not function properly you will experience brain fog, mood swings and even possible of depression.
  • Your muscles use carbohydrates for your daily life activities, exercise and muscle recovery.


  1. Protect against diseases
  • Fibre protects you against obesity, intestinal cancers and it even acts as a prebiotic
  • Respiratory substrates – carbohydrates are used to synthesis mucous in the upper respiratory tract which protects against virus and bacteria entering your body


  1. A source of vitamins and minerals
  • Vitamin A, B, C, D and K
  • Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron and Selenium



I think all types of carbohydrates can be beneficial for your health if consumed in the right amount. Everyone has different carbohydrate intakes so don’t compare yours to your family, friends or anyone else as this is effected by body type, age, exercise, type of lifestyle and medical conditions.


Healthy food on a low budget

Eating healthy food does not mean that one has to spend more money.


  1. Produce your own food

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is much cheaper than buying from the market. You can grow your crops in your garden. If you do not have a garden, crops can still grow in small pots which can also be used as kitchen decorations.


  1. Meal planning

Plan weekly meals and make a shopping list of the ingredients you need. Make sure you check what you already have in the fridge and cupboards. Make sure to write your plan down because if you go shopping without a menu it is probable that you will end up making lots of impulse purchases.


  1. Shop on a full stomach

If you go shopping on an empty stomach you are likely to buy more food and snacks that are high in sugars and fats.


  1. Buy frozen foods

Frozen fruit and vegetables are equally nutritious to fresh fruit and vegetables. Frozen foods are frozen at the peak of their freshness to preserve their nutrients.

Avoid fruit and vegetables with added salt, sugars and fats.


  1. Shop deals and offers

Offers and deals such as ‘buy one, get one free’ can be a great value. Still buy items you need. Food like pasta and frozen fruit and vegetables are items that you can store and use later.

Be careful to check the expiry date of the items on these offers. Make sure you will use the item before it expires.


  1. Prepare meals yourself

Eating from freshly prepared foods at home usually cost cheaper than buying take-aways or eating out. By preparing and cooking your own meals you can control the type and quality of the ingredients that go in your dish therefore it can be healthier.


  1. Food waste

Any food leftovers can be frozen and used another day. Take-away any food leftovers when dining at restaurants. In Malta 22% of food ends up being wasted therefore each family can save 22% of the budget spend on food.


  1. Expiry date

Make sure you know when the food is not safe to consume. Foods with ‘use by’ date must be consumed until the written date. Foods with ‘best before’ date can be consumed after the written date.


  1. Children eat the same

Toddlers and children should eat the same food and meals prepared at home. Simply blend or chop their portion as suitable for their age. Prepare some extra portions and freeze for the child for another day. Make sure not to add any salt and be careful with spicy food.



Salmon Fishcakes with parsley and chive dressing

In this paragraph, I am going to discuss why you should try this healthy recipe. This healthy recipe contains fresh salmon full of omega 3, herbs and spices rich in anti-oxidants, and fresh breadcrumbs. This will offer you nutritious home-made salmon fishcakes.

Furthermore, to top it up with more nutrients and anti-oxidants try also the healthy recipe of the parsley and chive dressing. As a result, this will also give you that extra great taste.

With all the recipes out there in cookbooks, magazines, and on the internet, do you ever wonder, “What should I cook for dinner tonight?” I enjoy these 2 delicious recipe and therefore I invite you to try this healthy recipe, low calorie recipe that your entire family will love.

Salmon Fishcakes

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 350g potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 300g fresh salmon, poached and flaked, or tinned if you prefer
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • handful fresh herbs, (e.g. parsley and dill), chopped
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 slices bread, in breadcrumbs
  • a little oil for cooking
  • lemon wedges, to serve
Parsley and Chive Dressing

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
  • Pinch pepper




  1. Boil the potatoes 10-15 minutes until tender, then mash.
  2. Roughly mash together the salmon, potato, onion, anchovies, herbs and mayonnaise and season well
  3. Form into 4 patties and chill for about 30 minutes.
  4. Dust each fishcake in flour, then dip in the egg and coat in breadcrumbs.
  5. Place the fishcakes on an oiled baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil.
  6. Cook under a medium grill for 2–3 minutes on each side. Serve with lemon wedges.


  • Mix all ingredients together


Nutritional Information

  Per 100g
Energy (Kcal) 176
Protein (g) 10.7
Carbohydrates (g) 16.5
of which sugars (g) 0.9
Fats (g) 9.1
of which saturates (g) 1.5
Fibre (g) 1.5
Salt (g) 0.2