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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
Diet control kept my children healthy
Sue Breetzke (r) and her daughter Seren
Sue Breetzke's good eating habits have been kept up by her daughter
As a new survey by the School Food Trust shows that increasing numbers of schoolchildren are stocking up on sweets, parents are again being advised to keep a close eye on what their children eat.

One parent who has already been doing that for years is Sue Breetzke, 49, a project manager and homeopath from Forest Row, East Sussex.

She has raised eight children with her husband Keith and has always kept a strict eye on their diet, particularly their sugar intake.

"When my eldest daughter Licia was 22 months, her brother was born and she went to stay with her grandparents for a little while," she said.

"I noticed she was getting snotty noses and bad throats and realised that grandparents are much more likely to spoil with sweets and treats. She was also more hyperactive.

"So I cut all the junk food out of her diet and immediately noticed she was less likely to get colds or flu. The majority of what I cut out was sugar."

Sugar ban

When Mrs Breetzke first met her husband the couple had four children between them, and she imposed strict dietary controls on them all.

"I was really rigid in making sure they didn't have sugar, and when I say none I mean none.

"As a result they were all incredibly healthy. When we went to the doctor they had to dig out our files because we hadn't been to see them for so long.

"I did notice that the more sugar they ate, the more ear, nose and throat problems they had, and they were also more hyper.

"I used to see this when they came back from a birthday party where they'd eaten sugary food.

"When they were under five I could control their diet, but when they were six and went to school I had to relax it.

"But I still went to the shops and supervised how they spent their pocket money."

I was really rigid in making sure they didn't have sugar, and when I say none I mean none
Sue Breetzke

A potential problem arose, said Mrs Breetzke, when her children began to attend secondary school and were able to gain more independence - but they passed with flying colours.

"My youngest daughter, Seren, is 17 and she can leave her school at lunchtimes - so there is a temptation to buy junk - but the good habits I've instilled in her seem to be holding.

"She'll buy fruit and milk and is a great water drinker instead of having sweets and fizzy drinks.

"It's not always easy to get kids to eat healthily, especially with other kids bringing in lunchboxes to school.

"I introduced new flavours to my children's diets, like broccoli and other vegetables, to make food more interesting."

Mrs Breetzke said the key to getting children to eat better and cut down on sugary foods is to instil good eating habits in them at an early stage.

"If you can get them to eat healthily when they're young then I have found that in adulthood these habits will remain.

"My children did experiment, they did eat junk food but didn't do it to excess.

"Children should be vital and healthy and so many of them aren't because their bodies aren't getting good nutrients and are getting lots of sugar instead."

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