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09th Sep 2017

Ask the expert: 5 easy ways to encourage your children to eat healthier

So many of us are not doing #3

Trine Jensen-Burke

We are officially done and dusted with the first full week of back to school and I am sure you all feel a bit like we are feeling  – that already summer seems almost like a distant memory.

Being back to the daily grind ain’t easy, mamas, and we for one find breakfast time during the week one of the hardest parts of it all. And it seems we are not alone.

In fact, according to a recent study of 412 parents, almost half of Irish mums and dads struggle to convince kids to eat a healthy breakfast – with numbers showing under two thirds of families eat an average of three portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

This, no doubt impacts health and immune systems, with as many as 53 percent of parents saying their children pick up a cough or cold almost every year within the first eight weeks back at school.

We recently sat down for a chat with nutritionist Sarah Keogh to get her thoughts on convincing the kids to eat a health breakfast.

Here are her five top tips:



1. Get breakfast going

Even if kids are reluctant to eat first thing, try and get them to eat something. An ideal breakfast includes whole grains (from toast or high fibre cereals), calcium (from milk or yoghurt) and fruit. Fruit can be chopped into cereal, a banana mashed on toast or 150mls of 100 percent pure fruit juice.

2. Get kids involved in shopping and cooking food

Firstly, they will start to learn life skills that will be essential as they get older. Secondly, kids are more likely to eat things they have had a hand in choosing and making. You may have to put up with runny scrambled eggs or half cooked stir fry but in time you will be glad you started.

3. Set a good example

If you don’t eat well, your kids won’t either. And let them see you eat. It can be very tempting to have kids fed and in bed before you sit down to your dinner, but that means they never see you eating your fruit and veg. Eat with kids as much as you can and let them see you having your glass of pure fruit juice, bowl of fruit salad or smoothie everyday.

4. Don’t worry if your child wants the same lunch every day

As long as it ticks all the boxes for nutrition, it won’t do them any harm. Include some protein (chicken, tuna, cheese, cold roast beef, hummus, egg etc.); fruit and veg; whole grains (bread, grains in salads, whole grain pasta).

5. Try to get them to bed earlier 

A sleepy child will struggle to have much of an appetite in the morning. More sleep usually means a better appetite and a healthier breakfast.

The survey of 412* parents was carried out as part of a new campaign by Fruit Juice Matters which aims to highlight the benefits of drinking a small glass of 100% pure fruit juice as part of a morning routine. A 150ml portion of 100% pure fruit contributes to one of your recommended seven a day and is a fantastic source of Vitamin C which is vital for sustaining a healthy immune system.