Parents - you asked and we answered! Here are the experts' top tips on healthy eating for children
Brought to you by START
We will definitely be following these bits of advice.
As you probably know, a few weeks ago, we asked you to let us know some of your questions about making healthy changes in the family.
As a summary (just in case you need a little refreshing), we have teamed up with the START campaign, aimed at combating unhealthy eating among children. At the moment, a whopping 20 percent of what our children eat are unhealthy treats. We know it can seem difficult to completely do away with treats and stay on top of a healthy lifestyle all the time, so we had two experts - Joana Caldeira Fernandes da Silva, Chief Specialist in Nutrition with safefood, and Peadar Maxwell, a senior psychologist in the HSE - on hand to help out.
We asked you to send them any and all of your questions so that they could give you some advice, tips, or assuage any reservations that you may have. If this is the first you're hearing of it - you can check out our previous article where we explain everything.
So thank you to all of you who sent us in the queries and worries about making healthy changes in the household, as well as any difficulties you faced trying to make those changes. Here are the answers our experts came back with.
We know that it takes a hero to say no to treats and to make sure the little ones are getting proper nutritious meals every day. Armed with these bits of advice, you'll be even bigger heroes than you already are.
Questions for Joana Caldeira Fernandes da Silva:
Q1: I'm looking for advice on lunchboxes and snacks. By their choice, my children are mostly vegetarian. Their school does not allow nuts for allergy reasons and I'm really struggling with ideas for lunchboxes and snacks. Neither of them will entertain the idea of a sandwich or bread.
Q2: How do I get my two-year-old to eat fruit? They used to eat loads and now will only eat it puréed.
Q3: Instead of treats, I try to give my toddler smoothies - what would you advise putting into one so that it's not too high in sugar?
Q4: Is yoghurt considered a healthy treat for children? I've heard yoghurts are full of sugar, and the same with granola?
Q5: Are there any foods parents generally think are good for their kids but are not?
Questions for Peadar Maxwell:
Q1: My son is a fussy eater. He won't eat any veg or fruit and doesn't like potatoes. I try blending veg to hide them in sauces. How do I get him to eat fruit and veg?
Q2: Good cop V bad cop. My husband is softer on our son when it comes to treats and we fight over it. What advice can you give?
Q3: I tend not to give my child treats, but when we visit her grandparents, they spoil her with treats. I've tried speaking to them about it but they don't listen.
Q4: I struggle to get my kids to try new foods. They decide on sight if they will like it or not and then they copy each other's likes and dislikes. How can I tackle this?
Q5: What should I do when my child demands a treat when we're out in a shop? I find it very difficult to control his tantrums and end up just giving into him to save myself the embarrassment.
That's all the advice we have for you today, mums and dads. If you take all of this on board and make changes one step at a time, we know things will get better in no time.
Not everything will turn out perfectly straight away - so don't worry if those tantrums don't go away immediately or if you have to talk to overly-generous grandparents a few times. Shopping might take a bit longer when you're just getting into reading labels but, after a little while, it'll become second nature and your eyes will be able to skim a label for the sugars and unhealthy fats in 0.5 of a second.
Don't worry, it's all a learning curve and you'll get there eventually - probably a whole lot quicker than you think.
Brought to you by START, the health awareness campaign from safefood, HSE and Healthy Ireland