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To give my children ham sandwiches every week?

(126 Posts)
Popskipiekin Sun 19-May-19 08:12:51

My dad, who has had bowel cancer, is very up on what food is bad for you. He sent me this link which says - broadly - that ham, bacon and other processed meats are as bad as cigarettes and asbestos health-wise...

DC have ham in some form every week. Sometimes twice. Is this very terrible? I thought ham wasn’t quite in the same category as bacon (which I do know we should be avoiding).

NoAngel1 Sun 19-May-19 08:18:07

Well it all depends on the source of the evidence and you then need to decide for yourself whether it’s good/bad. A lot of people will come on with mixed opinions... from they eat ham every single day and are fine to telling you that it’s a terrible thing to do. But read the evidence and decide.

MongerTruffle Sun 19-May-19 08:18:29

All processed meats are in the same category of carcinogens, but this does not mean that they are as dangerous as smoking. It just means that there is conclusive evidence that they cause cancer.
Here’s some info on the WHO website:

Passthecherrycoke Sun 19-May-19 08:19:53

This is only for a short time in their lives. If they like it I would go for it. Processed meat increases your chances of bowel cancer but you’re talking about consuming it for many many years, not once a week for the 10 years you eat packed lunch. It’s not really worth worrying about IMO

ScottishBadger Sun 19-May-19 08:21:30

We were in with the GP the other day.
He said they disapproved it and currently the only 3 terrible things for you are
Smoking, smoking and smoking

Also we were in with dietitician for DD. She says children must eat some red meat a couple of times a week for brain development and included bacon in that

Pineappleunder Sun 19-May-19 08:23:37

I've been reading up on this a bit recently. With ham/bacon much of the problem is the nitrates used as a preservative. You can now buy these products nitrate free. Yesterday I found roast pork slices which were nitrate free and not much more expensive at all. Yet to do the taste test but they look yummy.

Sculpin Sun 19-May-19 08:24:37

What MongerTruffle said. It is not that ham is as bad as cigarettes, it is that the link between ham and cancer has been as conclusively proved. But it's not as serious a link.

For example (I'm completely making up these numbers to demonstrate the point): say 50% of smokers get lung cancer and 5% of red meat eaters get bowel cancer. The article is not saying that the two percentages are the same, just that we are equally sure of the existence of the link in both cases.

Hope that makes sense.

kikisparks Sun 19-May-19 08:25:16

Processed meat is the only food classified as definitely causes cancer, red meat probably does. Why take the risk? You can feed them anything else as no other foods come with a known cancer risk.

Plus, meat is horrific for the environment, you should ideally be moving to more plant based. You could use this opportunity to swap the ham for a plant based option.

Teddybear45 Sun 19-May-19 08:25:56

Depends on your dad’s bowel cancer. Generally if one of your parents had this cancer their kids are recommended to get tested ten years prior to the parents age of diagnosis. So if your dad was sixty then you should get tested for bowel cancer no later than fifty (so your kids would need testing at 40 if bowel cancer was found in you ).

As bowel cancer patients are getting younger it’s probably a good idea to get your kids in the right habits now. Reduce ALL processed red meats (not just ham) to twice a week, increase their fibre intake, and get them walking or moving or playing sports 3 times a week.

kikisparks Sun 19-May-19 08:27:53

@ScottishBadger I can’t believe that person qualified as a dietician! Children do NOT need to eat red meat. I was raised without it and my brain developed perfectly well.

As for a dietician telling you to feed your child bacon confused

That’s really alarming.

Biancadelrioisback Sun 19-May-19 08:28:02

Okay ...I have ham sandwiches every day (!) And I did not know this! Need to now find an alternative....

AlaskanOilBaron Sun 19-May-19 08:28:47

The risks are very small and in the context of the average child's diet, hardly worth noting.

The bigger problem with ham/pork in general in my view is that pigs are at the top of the heap in terms of sentience, so I'd opt for chicken but that's a separate issue.

ReadWriteDraw Sun 19-May-19 08:29:37

I’ve taught vegetarian children from many backgrounds and none of them seem deficient brain wise. What an odd comment from dietician.

Teddybear45 Sun 19-May-19 08:30:57

True. Most Hindu Gujarati kids (the ones who tend to overachieve academically) tend to be raised vegetarian as kids (even if they do start eating meat after uni).

Alsohuman Sun 19-May-19 08:31:11

Every so often another factor is associated with cancer and everyone avoids it for a bit until it drops out of the news.

I love ham and bacon, I’d rather slightly increase my chance of developing bowel cancer than not eat them. And the increase would be very slight indeed

Passthecherrycoke Sun 19-May-19 08:32:05

I didn’t know you could get nitrate free ham! What a fab idea, I would buy that OP and then they can have what they like.

We are also a “bowel cancer family” and the other thing to remember Is there is a generational element. The people getting BC now grew up with a very different diet to the sort young people experience these days x

madeyemoodysmum Sun 19-May-19 08:32:29

I’m cutting down on ham. Partly for health and partly for the environment

ReadWriteDraw Sun 19-May-19 08:32:56

There’s also vegetarian communities world wide and they seem to manage pretty well brain wise!!

We eat a lot of plant based food (I’m veggie/vegan) but my kids get ham etc and I’m not stressed about it. We do buy Heck chicken sausages instead of pork ones and they prefer them.

forkfun Sun 19-May-19 08:34:42

MongerTruffle is right, and that useful. I really, really try to not give my kids processed meat, but it's pretty much unavoidable at times (eating out, birthday parties, school dinners, etc.). At home, both my kids (6,11) are now happy with smoked tofu (Taifun or ToFoo brand). Tasty, full of protein and calcium, but none of the nitrates or fat. I wouldn't sweat it, but see if you can gradually replace this with other options. I like to take the long-term view. Some ham here or there will probably do no harm. Helping your kids develop healthy eating habits and palates is what I would focus on. If they eat mainly stuff that's good for them, there isn't much room left for stuff that isn't.

autumnnightsaredrawingin Sun 19-May-19 08:39:06

The thing is, there’s increased risks of something, with just about everything. I honestly don’t think ham once or twice a week is anything to get too worried about. My kids don’t have meat every day, partly because of cost, partly for environmental reasons, but they have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a bit of ham. I’d say they now eat meat at home for their evening meal maybe 3 times a week. We can definitely get too worried about these things!

ReadWriteDraw Sun 19-May-19 08:41:01

Forkfun - good points.

We eat lots of plant based meals (chick pea curries, black bean chilli etc) and my kids will now actively choose the veggie option at school. They still love a steak if we are out for a meal but generally they’re happy with a veggie meal. I think it’s about giving lots of healthy food at home but without making it mandatory or being obsessive about it.

Scottishgirl85 Sun 19-May-19 08:41:04

I grew up on ham sandwiches, and still take them every day in my packed lunch as an adult blush
What are some alternatives please - genuinely would like to change but need convenience as we have two young children and both work full time - so not a lot of time on our hands to prepare packed lunches!

Veterinari Sun 19-May-19 08:43:25

Also we were in with dietitician for DD. She says children must eat some red meat a couple of times a week for brain development and included bacon in that

I’d love to see the science behind this! What a load of bollocks!

MongerTruffle Sun 19-May-19 08:44:25

Scottish You can buy (or cook yourself) pork, ham, chicken, turkey and beef that has just been roasted, not preserved with nitrates and nitrites.

NotDoris Sun 19-May-19 08:44:35

We have bowel cancer in the family, my direct relative was diagnosed at 38, so I’ve bern aware of the risks for some time. It’s not simply ham and bacon, it’s the nitrites in processed meats, so sliced chicken etc are also bad. Sainsburys sell a brand called Naked ham which is nitrite free, and I buy sliced chicken or chicken chunks (tikka, barbecue etc flavour) for sandwiches.

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