It’s time to redefine treats

It’s time to redefine treats

“Everything in moderation”. “The odd treat won’t harm you”. “Once every so often won’t hurt”… Heard those before? Said those things before? You’re absolutely not alone. We say them when talking about that innocent lil’ packet of this or bar or that, but here’s the thing:

GMO corn or soy is not a treat.

Preservatives that cause rashes, asthma or eczema are not treats.

Food colourings that alter brain function and cause cancer are not treats.

Car coolant in ice creams is not a treat.

Meat glue and pink slime in burgers are not treats.

Trans fats are not a treats.

Carcinogenic Aspartame is not a treat.

A lot of people fall off the ‘real food’ wagon because they’re calling it a diet. Deprivation eventually ensues. A feeling of needing to reward oneself with copious amounts of ‘treats’ beckons and on and on we go. What if treats weren’t treats though. What if we worked on our definition and truly recognised so called ‘treats’ for what they really are – Nothing more than a money making farce! Once you’re firmly committed to Real Food, the treats are boundless, they just don’t happen to have big brand names. Home baked cookies, luscious cacao smoothies, cakes, tarts, home made ice pops treats – those are real treats. We can make recipes with gentle sweeteners, healthier flours, no flours at all… We are in control and we reap the rewards of a little time in the kitchen.

As a proud ambassador for the Food Revolution, part of the mission of the ambassadors around the globe is to help people change their mind set and make healthy, real food a delicious and fun journey. Changing mindset is what changes lives – not just regarding food, but general awesomeness of quality of life and outlook. Jamie Oliver is the king of helping change mindsets and it’s awesome to help in my own tiny way, so here’s what I think.

The “treats” mindset needs to change. We need to stop calling marketed food-like products ‘treats’ and bring it back home. It’s just not a treat to give a kid a slushie with 11 teaspoons of high fructose corn syrup and a hyperactivity causing artificial colour in it. We’ve been told by marketers for decades about these treats and we’ve so totally bought into the brands. My favourite ‘treats’ over the years have been things such as Oreos, Microwaved popcorn, Curly Wurly’s, British Cadbury, Soya Crisps, Gatorade, Magnums, Soft serve, Ben and Jerry’s, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder…

If we’re really going to change our mindset and shape the world with our collective choices, then it’s never really a treat to have a chocolate bar with 12 additives our bodies don’t understand, is it?

The shift is a deep one. The need to explain to our kids is imminent. We need to have patience with them and ourselves, while we get it across the line with them that there’s bad stuff in all those ‘treats’ so “why don’t we make something yummy when we get home!?” It’s not uncool if cool people start doing it, right? I’m assuming here of course that we’re cool??

And then there’s the beauty of what cooking means – Cooking together, smelling something baking in the oven together, and eating something delicious together, as a treat. A real one. It also means we eat less sweet stuff in general, because we can’t gratuitously grab at it in an instant and on call. That then means a really good chance of weight loss, less ADHD, less allergies and reduced disease risks. Wow. Powerful stuff.

ganache tart smallwebsizeDSC_0972

Here’s to treats. Redefined. Give yourself a good year for this one, if this scares you to death. Baby step it. Chunk it down. Tiny changes over time will equal success and a deep understanding – possibly even boundless enthusiasm! I’d love to hear of your successes in implementing real treats, weaning yourselves or kids off the junky stuff et all. If you know people who struggle with this, please share. It’s not a goodbye to treats. It’s realising that most of that stuff isn’t a treat in the first place and adding delicious things into your life that are!

Real Food. Happy Bodies.

Alexx x




  1. Powerful words, Alexx. Thank you for your post! –K

  2. Great post Alexx. Congrats on being an ambassador of Food Revolution.

    I’ve noticed big changes in my view of “treats” as I’ve gotten older. It used to be a chocolate bar, the occasional Quarter Pounder with fries, a tube of Pringles. Now as I realise my body really, really hates preservatives, I’ll go for a piece or two of 70% chocolate, triple cream brie on beautifully fresh sourdough, a fillet of crispy skin salmon [medium rare of course!] often with avocado on sourdough or with a white bean mash, an eye fillet, homemade guacamole and corn chips. And I feel so much better for it – on my tastebuds and my insides.

    I succumbed to the craving for a bag of cheezels last week and regretted it almost instantly. And for the next two days as my body processed the evil I had swallowed. What WAS I thinking!?!

    • alexxstuart says:

      Thanks Mel. It’s our generation that was in the thick of growing up marketed to, isn’t it and it’s now a case of what we teach to the next, now that we know. It’s that simple. My lil’ guy of 3 thinks kale chips, gruyère, home made cakes and figs are treats and asks people if things have ‘numbers in them’ if offered something. I’m so inspired by his ability to take that on and understand it. You make me feel like going out there and buying a big wedge of BRIE!!! lol. Don’t be down on yourself about the cheezels. Those moments serve as reminders that you’ve made an awesome decision to move away! Have a fab weekend, Alexx.

      • thank Alexx. My mother was very ahead of her time in many nutritional ways, and we never ate processed food or store bought cake etc growing up. It’s only been in the last 10 years that I fully understand how lucky we were. The cheezels are a bit of a flashback to my childhood as we were NEVER allowed them! Only plain chips! Unless of course, dad did the occasional grocery shop :)

  3. Well said! For us treats are home-made icecream, bliss balls, brownies and the like!

  4. This really resonates with me! How can it be a treat if it’s harming you? I’m going to really work hard on redefining my kids’ perceptions of treats. Thanks for the great post :)

    • alexxstuart says:

      Laney, You’re welcome & thanks so much for taking the time to say. I had the fortune of having my epiphany when lil’ guy was just starting solids, so he’s never known different. Me personally though having grown up considering those things to all be treats, it took me about 3 years to personally undo all the embedded ‘inner me’ language that made me choose stuff. It’s so fascinating to me as a subject. Love your blog /business by the way. Was at problogger and didn’t get the chance to come and say hi!

  5. Great post Alexx, we blend smoothies at home using berries, honey and low joule cordial instead of pumping sugar-laden fruit juice into our kids. They love them!

    • alexxstuart says:

      Thanks so much Sam and just love hearing about all these people doing real treats at home. Just watch for where the sweetness comes from with the cordial. Low joule can mean fake sweeteners, and I’d hate for you to think you’re doing something awesome and then find out not – like every woman and diet coke! lol. Sounds to me like you can phase it out anyhow and do berries and honey as the base – winning combination! Hope you’re well and 2013 has started out fab for you and yours, Alexx.

  6. Hi Alexx, great post. I agree wholeheartedly that ‘treat’ needs to be redefined especially for children. I have two sons age 3 and 6 and we bake our own dessert a couple of times a month and make ice cream from time to time. One of the difficulties I think many parents face is with grandparents and other relatives and friends who think that by not giving children sweets and processed food you are being mean or depriving them of ‘fun’. Spending time together and having a long healthy life is the sweetest treat more than any processed ‘treat’ could hope to be. So great to find your blog.

    • alexxstuart says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time Nikki. That’s exactly the issue and I love meeting others out there spruiking the better way of thinking about treats. Have a fab week! :)

  7. Thanks so much, Alexx. I first read this on the same day my 8yo daughter decided my homemade raw chocolate was the only chocolate she ever wanted to eat. A little education about what’s really in food goes a lonnnng way ;-)

    • alexxstuart says:

      Your 8 year old (who’s probably 9 now it was so long ago you left this comment. lol) has discerning taste! My little guy who’s 4.5 also can spot fake stuff a mile off now and just fobs it off. Hopefully it will last but I truly believe if we start with these foundations, even if they go wayward for a bit as tweens in the ‘acceptance’ years, they’ll always return to what they feel comforted by, which is the stuff we taught them about as tiny people :-)

  8. Wow, powerful stuff. I so love your passion, Alexx! I’m feeling inspired to re-double my efforts with my family. I’ve been changing things slowly for Mr 6 as he has some sensory issues with food but he’s now onboard with the idea that Mummy’s job is to give him healthy food for a healthy body and a healthy mind. I think we could all do with finding other ways to treat ourselves than always with food too (coming from a long time comfort eater!!).

    • alexxstuart says:

      Thanks Caz. I come from a long line of comfort eaters too. It is so hard to break all of the emotional ties to treats – even the good ones, that if we go overboard aren’t great for us. Took me years. Your family are so lucky to have a mummy that’s working so hard to build happy, healthy bodies x

  9. Thank you so much for this post. I have a 9 and 6 year old and our school district has just published an “acceptable” food list for Moms to use for birthdays and parties during the school year. It is full of junk, all homemade items are BANNED. There were some “healthy” options, carrot sticks etc oh and “GOGURT” as if that were healthy…. (no mention of organic either), but mostly just chemicals and junk… oreos, donuts…. etc. This was done to help the kids with nut allergies so I can understand the concern, however when I suggested that we replace birthday celebrations with 10 extra minutes of recess the other Moms insisted that their kids would really miss the treats. In addition to birthday celebrations there are also parties during the year generally about 25-30 opportunities to consume junk during the school year which is 180 days. My children are strict Paleo, and I am autoimmune protocol Paleo so I always pack their “treats” (there is almost nothing on the “acceptable” list that I would allow my children to consume) but it works out to “treating” the kids nearly once a week which doesn’t seem like a special occasion to me. I’m considering posting this article on the Moms school facebook page, but I’m worried it won’t seem very diplomatic (people generally think I’m crazy for not eating grains, etc) I’d love to hear If you have any ideas how I could bring some change to my school. Thank you so much for all the information!!

    • alexxstuart says:

      You are very welcome. It is hard to be trailblazers in real food, I’m not going to lie. I’m going to have a good long think about this and write a piece on it next week :)

  10. Read ” Sweet Poison ” by author David Gilespi. The truth about sugar and processes ‘foods’….

  11. Karen Locke says:

    Fantastic post Alexx. I’m going through ‘the change’ (ha!) with my family at the moment – have been doing the baby steps for about a year now but still have a long way to go. My biggest struggle is with the kids, especially my 6yo ASD son, when they go to friend’s birthday parties or school fairs, family events, etc, and they want to eat what all the other kids are eating. It’s hard to insist on them eating only the food that I have brought and not be tempted by all the colourful lollies and cakes filled with nasties. I know I’m not alone in this – I hear it from other mums all the time. But I will continue to push because it is in the best interests of my babes, and nothing is more important to me than their health and wellbeing. Thank you for your blog – it is inspiring and motivating and a big help to me!
    Karen x

    • alexxstuart says:

      Thanks so much for your note Karen. Your little people are so lucky to have you be their caring mum x


  1. [...] you do still love ‘junk food’ of some kind, I wrote a piece about redefining treats here if you fancy reading. It may help. You can have your chocolate, and cake and eat them too, just make [...]

  2. [...] you do still love ‘junk food’ of some kind however, I wrote a piece about redefining treats here if you fancy reading. It may help. You can have your chocolate, and cake and eat them too, just make [...]

  3. [...] What a most excellent example of what NOT to do. The ’2 ingredients’ in this recipe, which consists of a can of coke and a packet of chocolate cake mix are actually many ingredients, none of which need to be in little bodies or big ones for that matter. The argument in the comments is that they’re a ‘treat’, not an every day food. Isn’t the very definition of treat in need of a massive overhaul? Why ‘treat’ ourselves to additives, preservatives, GM sugar, chemicals and fake salt? How are they treats?  It makes no sense any which way you try and look at it. You’re worth 100% natural, rich and luscious chocolate cupcakes when you ‘go there’. Check out my thoughts on redefining treats if you’ve got a minute by clicking here.  [...]

  4. […] Step 5: Don’t call processed foods, treats. Your kids will thank you for this a million times over once they’re grown ups. Read my article on redefining treats here. […]