Sunday 22 September 2019

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Feeding kids can be so difficult

Thursday, 12th September, 2019 8:46am

Feeding children is such an emotive issue.

Of course, we should all feed our children very healthy things all the time. It’s the right thing to do and we should do the best for them.

But it’s not that easy. Some kids go through phases where they don’t eat veg, fruit and non-processed foods.

My toddler eats pretty well so far but his tastes seem to vary day to day. Some days he will love his dinner and devour all of it. The next day he sometimes entirely rejects the same dish.

On reflection, perhaps he just gets tired of the same food! He does get the same dishes over two days quite often as we batch cook healthy dishes for him.

A new report that came out yesterday highlighted again some of the poor dietary habits of children in Ireland. The National Children’s Food Survey looked at the diets of kids aged five to twelve years and featured work by researchers from UCC and CIT.

Some of the key findings included that intakes of fruit and vegetables are low, about three servings a day, well below the recommended five-seven a day.

Intakes of sugar, salt and saturated fat are higher than recommended.

Most children are getting sufficient vitamins and minerals but significant numbers have inadequate intakes of vitamin D, calcium, iron, folate and fibre.

In better news, one in six school schoolchildren are classified as overweight or obese, but the levels have stabilised or decreased in recent years, especially in girls.

Recent dietary changes include reduced intake of fruit juice, sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks and salt, and increased intake of fruit, brown/wholemeal bread and water.

The study also found that the main obstacles parents see to providing a healthy diet for the child were the child’s likes and dislikes, convenience, other people minding the child, and food advertising.

Convenience isn’t a great excuse, nor is other people minding the child, as parents can still provide the meals in most situations but the other factors are significant.

Advertising is effective, the existence of this paper almost proves that, while a child’s likes and dislikes are hard to legislate for. I know adults who don’t eat vegetables - I know, hard to fathom - and kids can be very picky.

It can be very difficult for parents, and all kids are different, but I guess we all just have to educate ourselves a bit and do our best to make them healthy meals.

On a more positive note, wasn’t it great to see four Corkmen start for the Irish senior football team against Bulgaria in the Aviva on Tuesday night? It’s been quite awhile since that happened. I don’t think it’s happened since I’ve been aware of the Irish team (late ‘80s).

I was delighted to see two ex-Cork City FC players and two other Corkmen representing their country. One of them, Alan Browne, got the opening goal while another, Kevin Long got one of the other goals in the 3-1 win. Both are ex-City players.

Another one, John Egan, captained the side. Well done lads!

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