More than a third of Irish Moms are concerned about their child’s diet.
34% of Irish Moms are concerned about their child’s diet – that’s according to new research published today by Ireland’s largest online parenting community, eumom.
The survey showed that nearly a quarter of parents are concerned that their child isn’t eating enough fruit, 43% are concerned that their child isn’t eating enough vegetables and a staggering 54% said that their child doesn’t eat enough fish. Worryingly, 44% of the moms surveyed said their children were eating too many treats.
According to eumom’s nutritionist Ciara Ryan, “As parents, it is our responsibility to establish healthy eating habits for our children. Poor eating habits and physical inactivity during childhood set the stage for health problems later on in life. Parents can help children establish healthy eating habits by making nutritious foods available, limiting the consumption of junk foods, reading ingredients lists rather than making assumptions based on the branding or claims on the labels, allowing children to participate in food preparation, and by controlling the amount of food they eat. Treats should be just that – a treat, rather than an everyday occurrence”
The research also showed that 37% of moms said their child was a ‘fussy eater’
Despite HSE guidelines stating that children over two should be consuming at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, nearly three quarters of moms said their children were consuming less than that.
The research also looked at how much parents know about healthy eating for their children. When moms were asked how much fat their child should consume daily, 80% did not know. And it wasn’t just when in came to the amount of fat in their diets, 66% did not know the recommended daily allowance of sugar and 70% did not know how much salt should be in their child’s diet. 22% of Irish moms said that their children consumed fruit juice/cordial daily
“Children aged 4-8 should consume no more than 130 calories, (3 tsp) of sugar a day. As well as ‘hidden sugars’, many children are consuming excess salt and unhealthy fat from eating processed and convenience foods such as sausages, ham and rashers meats, crisps, pizza, jarred tomato sauces and some breads” said Ms Ryan.
Ciara Ryan and eumom’s Top Tips to help establish good eating habits for your children.
• Wean your child off the cordials and fruit juices, juices are just a concentrated source of sugar, even the sugar free cordials contain artificial sweeteners and other artificial ingredients. Move to a dash of orange juice in sparkling or still water, infuse water with citrus slices, mint leaves or berries to make transition a little less painful.
• For fussy eaters, place a very small amount of a particular food or veg on their plate regardless of whether they eat it or throw it on the floor. Eventually they will accept it. Persistence and patience is key here. If your child refuses a food – fish for example – don’t give up. Often it takes a few repetitions before they accept a new taste or texture. It is said that 10-15 exposures are required before acceptance.
• Hide veg in soups, sauces, smoothies. Add a half an avocado to a fruit and yogurt smoothie, blend extra vegetables into a tomato sauce, make dips and veggie crudités, add cooked cauliflower into mash for topping shepherd’s pie, grate courgette or sweet potato into homemade burgers etc. Use clever presentation and colours – skewers, segmented plates, colours of their favourite football team and so on.
• Learn to read labels like a pro. Don’t make assumptions based on the branding or claims on the labels. Read the ingredients list, look for hidden sugars, hydrogenated fats and other unwanted ingredients. Sugar in particular shows up all over the place especially in cereal bars, breakfast cereals, yogurts and any food aimed at children really!
• Don’t make a fuss, quietly remove the poor choices from your home, one at a time, whilst making nutritious foods such as fruit, nuts and seeds, plain yogurt readily available. Lead by example! Try to make meal times stress free and get your children involved in making meal choices, shopping for ingredients and prep and cooking.