I recently took part in a survey for myvouchercodes.co.uk about healthy eating and children. They were kind enough to share the results with me and some of the findings were quite surprising…
The results start off with the fact that 67% of parents let their children choose what they eat. I definitely believe that children should get some say, after all, we would not like being served up food that we didn’t fancy every day.
However, there do need to be boundaries and a choice of healthy food options for the children to choose from. For main meals, in our house the adults have the last word mainly because we’re the ones cooking it but we we always check which meals go down best and ask for suggestions.
I was shocked that 62% of parents let their children drink sugary and sweet drinks every day. Our main drink in our house is tap water and bottled water. We drink it straight from the tap and also infused with lemon or fruit. I’m thankful that the kids like it as it’s so important to drink plenty of water every day.
I know there is a lot of debate about whether fruit juice is healthy or not, we only drink that occasionally when on holiday etc with our breakfast. We will also make fruit juice ice lollies during the summer. Yes, there is a lot of natural sugar in them but it’s a healthier alternative to processed or chocolate lollies. My kids do have fizzy drinks at parties and sometimes when out for a meal, but it is a treat not the norm.
During the winter, my kids do appreciate a nice warm cup of tea in the morning but we buy decaff which is best for them. Danny also enjoys herbal teas which are even better for him. Everything is in moderation and we do drink hot chocolate after really cold/wet afternoons out as a treat.
Apparently 26% of children never eat raw vegetables, fruit or nuts as a snack. This is our staple snack every day. They are always given a variety of fresh fruit to choose from (and on budget weeks a bag of value apples or grapes), and they also love raw carrot, cucumber and peppers as snacks. They enjoy small portions of nuts as well.
We like to eat together as a family, but as the kids get older, it does mean that sometimes one of them has to eat earlier or later to be able to go to clubs, but the majority of teatime meals are still as a family. 49% of parents admit that their children are fussy eaters. I would say that three of my kids are good eaters and one is quite fussy. However, she would say that she just has different taste in food to us and I think that is quite true. I can remember being classed as a fussy eater as a child as I didn’t like cooked vegetables as a side on my plate, deep fried chips or meat. I’m now a vegetarian who still doesn’t like deep fried chips and though I will now eat cooked vegetables I do prefer them raw and crunchy.
The only problem I find with Caitlyn not wanting to eat lots of food is although she has a healthy diet to me it seems too repetitive. However, she gets all the nutrients she needs so I don’t make a fuss and I’m sure a relaxed approach is best.
11% of parents surveyed said that they would bribe their children with food if they weren’t behaving, while 54% would punish them. We reward our kids when they are behaving. If not then if I’m out and about then I will remove them from the situation- yes I have had to leave behind a trolley load of shopping in the past! Once calm, we will talk about the behaviour. I do like the “no sweets at the checkout” supermarket approach as they did used to be tempting when I was little! If you do treat your children while shopping then it can be a special fruit or even a non food treat such as a magazine, but personally I wouldn’t give this for every visit for three reasons: they will begin to expect it all the time, it would get expensive and it’s not so much of a special treat once it becomes the norm.
Saying that, I don’t like it when I see some parents judging other families for not being as healthy as them. We’re not perfect and also we don’t know other people’s circumstances so it’s never right to judge.
For me the overall emphasis on healthy eating for my children is to get them to eat lots of fruit and vegetables throughout the day. No item of food is off limits completely as this can cause an obsession for it, especially once the kids are school age and you have less control over what they eat, my kids love cake, chocolate and ice cream and that’s fine as long as it’s in moderation.
To read more about the findings read the Family Friendly Working article. What do you think about the findings? Do they mirror or differ to your views on healthy eating for children?