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Everyone likes a treat now and then. Whether it’s on a Saturday night watching a movie together, having a little ‘me’ moment’, or a mid-week treat, enjoying a treat together can create a special family moment.
However, it can be difficult to get the balance right – knowing how much and how often to treat our children and choosing the right treats can sometimes feel daunting. When asked, 43% of parents said they would like more support and guidance about giving their children confectionery treats.
Confectionery company Ferrero has been creating high-quality treats such as Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tac, Kinder, and Thorntons for over 70 years. Ferrero cares about the responsible consumption of its products and, in line with its global nutritional principles, they believe that everyone can enjoy their favourite products in moderation, in small portions, as part of a balanced and varied diet.
Ferrero champions this approach through its ‘Thoughtful Treating’ initiative – from small individually wrapped products with clear labelling to helping families savour and celebrate those treating moments.
To help make parenting that little bit easier, we’ve created this handy guide to treating – including tips on how to enjoy those tasty delights in a balanced way, plus a video with experts from the Ferrero ‘Treat Panel’ to help you make more thoughtful decisions when it comes to those special family moments.
Can treats be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet?
Let us start with this reassuring advice from consultant dietitian, Helen Bond: “All foods can have a place in a balanced and varied diet – it’s about how much and how often we’re eating them and about having that balance between pleasure, nutrition, and moderation.
“The bottom line is there’s a place for all kinds of foods in our diet including treat foods; it’s about how often and how much we eat them.”
The key to enjoying confectionery treats thoughtfully is to ensure they’re eaten as part of a balanced diet, and to make them an occasional delight. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know before going down the chocolate aisle…
“There is a difference between snacks and treats,” Helen explains. “Snacks, for example, might be eaten on a daily basis and a couple of times throughout the day, so as a guide I suggest looking around 100kcal per portion. Whereas treats are a treat, eaten with less frequency, so can be a little higher in calories than a snack as they are not designed to be eaten daily. Even when treating though, we should still consider small portions, so I always guide people to look for a treat under 200kcal.”
Tips from a consultant dietitian on finding the right balance when treating your children
Balance is the key to many things in life, and that includes teaching your children about making informed, thoughtful choices when it comes to treat foods. Here are some tips from Helen on how to strike the right balance when treating as a parent.
1. Don’t over-restrict treats
Allow your children to enjoy treats on days other than birthdays and holidays. If they’re only allowed treats for rare events, this may lead to overconsumption when treats are available.
2. Keep treats out of sight
If your children don’t know the treats are there, they’re less likely to ask for them, and you’ll have the pleasure of revealing them to excited, surprised faces. Not only will you be more likely to control the amount of treats they get, it can also help to make a treating moment more of an experience for you and your family.
3. Don’t tie good or bad behaviour to treats
It’s often tempting as a parent to use treats to reinforce good behaviour or to calm tantrums, but it’s important that treats aren’t seen as a reward or punishment.
Here’s what Helen has to say: “You don’t want to convey the wrong messages about treats, as this psychological association could continue into adulthood and form these habits.
“Don’t give in to tantrums and screaming and crying. If your child gets used to having tantrums to get their own way, they will always expect the same treatment.”
Recent research by Ferrero has revealed that a quarter of parents find the school holidays, or when other family members are looking after their children, a more difficult time than usual when it comes to treating.
Helen explains that, with some preparation, you can continue to choose the right treating moments for your family: “Try and plan ahead of time which upcoming moments you’d like to incorporate treats in to and include these in your weekly shop.”
5. Small portions
Moderation is a vital part of a balanced diet, but it can be something people find challenging. According to Ferrero’s research, over a third of parents say that small portion sized treats and individually wrapped products are among the most important factors when choosing what treats to buy.
Making thoughtful choices is key when deciding what to include in your weekly shop – here are some simple tricks:
- Choosing treats that come in small portions and those that are individually wrapped will help children to understand what an appropriate portion is.
- Check the nutritional label to see the calories per portion size and look for brands like Ferrero who offer some of the smallest portion sizes in the market – in fact, over 92% of their treats come under 150kcal.
- Another simple trick is to put the recommended portion size on a plate and then put the rest back in a cupboard.
The joy of the occasional treat
Eating treats can be a delightful experience, but it’s important to enjoy the treat more thoughtfully to help you enjoy that special moment with your family. Helen agrees: “Some people have lost sight of the specialness of treats and the treating moments, but it’s important to make the most of them because eating is an enjoyable experience to be savoured!”
Professor Barry Smith, founding director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, who is also part of the Ferrero ‘Treat Panel’, brings this to life by explaining that it’s not just what we eat, but how we eat our treats that can help us savour the moment.
“It’s not about how much chocolate you eat, but how you eat chocolate that determines how you enjoy it. Eating is a multi-sensory experience that involves a series of events that not only includes taste but also your touch and smell.
“As you first bite into the chocolate, it will feel smooth and creamy but your taste buds will give you a one-dimensional experience and will only be able to tell you that what you are eating is sweet. But, if you slow down, the heat of your mouth will release the extra flavours and activate your tastebuds and kick in your sense of smell.
"When the aromas are released in your mouth, as you eat, they travel to the back of your throat and up through your nose, and when you swallow, you are pushing the smell to your nose. It’s at this point that it combines with taste and you get flavour. The experience of eating chocolate depends on all your senses working together and this combination gives you the multi-sensory moment of taste and flavour that is so tasty.”
But this approach is not just for adults – why not teach your kids about the sensory experience of enjoying their favourite treats and encourage them to value them more? This will help them appreciate the specialness of treats and how they can be enjoyed thoughtfully. Savouring delicious flavours, exciting aromas and interesting textures in foods they consume in moderation are excellent lessons for children to learn.
Barry adds: “When it comes to buying chocolate, research shows that 59% of parents say that great taste is their number one priority. This is great to see, but to enjoy that multi-sensory taste experience, we need to encourage people to slow down and enjoy those important treating moments.”
So being thoughtful about the way you and your family eat treats can actually help you achieve a better sensory experience. That’s a win-win, we’d say.
Putting the ‘thought’ in to treats
Research has shown that 64% of parents think that confectionery companies have an important role to play in offering guidance and support on how to include their products in a balanced diet, and 36% say that they would like to see more information on how to choose a treat for them and their families.
Thanks to Ferrero’s ‘Thoughtful Treating’ approach, the confectioner truly encourages celebrating thoughtful moments with friends and family or individually. Whether you're surprising or delighting a loved one, sharing a favourite product together or taking a moment to yourself, you can enjoy their unique and delicious products by savouring the moment.
So, the next time you are enjoying a treat – why not try this thoughtful treating approach?
“At Ferrero, we make unique high-quality products that help people to enjoy and celebrate life’s special moments, but we know that it’s important to have balance. That’s why we have three nutritional principles that underpin everything we do; we believe that all foods can be eaten in small portions, as part of a balanced and varied diet, combined with a physically active lifestyle. In line with these principles, we are committed to Thoughtful Treating to help consumers enjoy our small-portioned treats responsibly and thoughtfully.”