10 ways to improve what children eat

24th September 2013

SOME times I despair about what children eat – my youngest son walked in the other day from school with a can of coke in one hand and a big bag of chocolates in the other. However hard we try to make our children eat healthily, sometimes it can feel like we are losing the battle.

Especially when they can buy the fizzy drinks and sweets from school vending machines – I often wonder if I should complain to the school.

Alarm bells rang for me today when I read a newspaper article on what children eat as it seems that this is a huge problem and not just one for my family.

According to a British Heart Foundation survey one in three British children eat sweets, chocolate or crisps at least three times a day; and almost half will have a fizzy or energy drink – such scary, unhealthy statistics.

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Rita, 35, spoke in the article about her son Kaleb who is six and how that she feels there is peer pressure for him to eat snack foods at school: “when he’s at home he does eat better”.

“The problem with school is that there is so much peer pressure to eat what all his mates eat”.

Kaleb is just one example of a whole generation of our children who are growing up with unhealthy habits, and it is scary to think what it may mean for their futures if our children eat this way.

To combat this real problem, Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation has come up with ten top tips to help children eat healthily:

ONE: Keep it cool – few schools have refrigerated areas for lunchboxes so use mini lunchbox coolers or freeze cartons of juice or bottles of still water to put in the lunchbox.

TWO: Avoid off-putting soggy sandwiches – put wet vegetables like tomato slices between your main filling and some lettuce to protect the bread.

THREE: Make fruit and vegetables easy to eat – cut them into chunks, sticks or shapes rather than leave them whole.

FOUR: Decorate sandwich bags or yogurt pots with stickers or draw funny faces on fruits that kids will peel at school like bananas, oranges and satsumas.

FIVE: Let your child choose their lunchbox and involve them in deciding what healthy snacks to put inside. Add bright napkins and plastic cutlery to make lunch fun.

SIX: Instead of buying them sugary fizzy drinks, once a day give them a pure unsweetened fruit juice. A 150ml serving is one of their five-a-day. Opt for water at other times.

SEVEN: Slices of apple will give your children the crunch without the fat and salt that can come with a bag of crisps.

EIGHT: For a sweet but nutritious treat try mini boxes of dried fruits like raisins or dried apricots instead of after-school sweets.

NINE: Try a banana instead of a bar of chocolate if you’re looking for a more filling snack for the kids between meals.

TEN: Individual pots of tinned fruit in juice are great for lunchboxes or a mid-afternoon snack instead of biscuits.

I’d love to hear your views on what children eat and how you helping your children eat healthy!

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