One 'tiny treat' a week is all parents should be giving children says new guidelines 1 month ago

One 'tiny treat' a week is all parents should be giving children says new guidelines

Are you guilty of offering up snacks and treats to your kids around the clock?

According to new healthy eating guidelines, young children should be given no more than a ‘tiny amount’ of sugary or high-fat snacks per week.

In fact, according to the new guidelines, the likes of sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, fizzy drinks and crisps should not be part of the everyday diet of a child aged 1-4 at all, and if you do still opt to dish out the odd treat, such foods should only be offered in tiny amounts once per week.

How much is a 'tiny amount' I hear you ask?

The new government guidelines define a tiny amount as one square of chocolate, three crisps or half a plain biscuit.

Got that? ONE square of chocolate, three individual crisps OR half a plain biscuit.

As for more savoury snack, frozen pizza is described as high in fat, so should be limited to 'one very small slice once a week'. And foods like chicken nuggets, burgers and chips should also be limited to small amounts, while takeaways 'should not be part of your child's diet at all'.

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Correct portion sizes

The new guidelines also give other examples of adult portions vs child portions, something many fail to take into consideration, hence over-feeding children regularly.

The document recommends that parents stick to child plate/bowl sizes when serving meals, to make it easier to stick to actual child-size portions of food when serving a meal.

As an example, it says children should only have half a banana compared to a full banana for an adult.

As for what to offer up to drink, parents are advised to stick to water and milk for drinks, and it is recommended that sugary fizzy drinks and cordials should be avoided.

The document also offers recommendations on vitamin D drops, saying that during the winter months (Halloween to St. Patrick's Day) children should be given vitamin D drops or liquid daily, as they don’t get enough of the vitamin during the winter months.

Launching the updated guidelines, Minister of State for Public Health Frank Feighan said: “

A critical message coming from these new guidelines is that we really need to recognise that small children have small tummies and as a result, we need to be mindful of the portion sizes that we’re giving them when eating."

Speaking about the new food pyramid, Feighan explains:

"The Children’s Food Pyramid will help to assist families to make healthier choices for their child as it provides a range of information on the number of servings from each shelf needed at different ages. It also recognises that some children of the same age will need more food and some will need less."

Full details of the guidelines are available on the Government website.