As parents, we try our best to feed our children healthy foods. Now here’s some sensible eating advice for kids.
Even those of us (myself included) who aren’t expert chefs can usually rustle up some veggies and fish, a healthy sandwich and the occasional fruit-loaded smoothie, but while most of us probably struggle to keep our kids away from the biscuit barrel, it is possible to give kids a diet that is ‘too healthy’.
In the 1980s, the phrase ‘muesli belt malnutrition’ was coined to describe the culture of excessive ‘healthy eating’ leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
In these days of über-parenting, where biscuits have been replaced with rice crackers and snack packs are likely to be filled with vegetable and salad sticks that take almost as much energy to digest as they actually provide, it’s possible that a similar phenomenon could develop in our children.
A recent survey has shown that some childcare institutions in England provide too many portions of fruit and veg and not enough in the way of carbohydrates.
The report also highlighted the tendency of nurseries and parents to opt for low-fat options as a way of avoiding obesity.
The problem is that children’s dietary requirements are very different from our own: active, growing children have high calorific needs: up to 40% of daily calories for under 3s should come from fats and up to 65% from carbohydrates.
Consequently, a diet that contains too many low-fat, low-carb, high-fibre foods – such as fruit and vegetables – is not optimal for a growing child.
Low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk are not suitable for children under 5, and semi-skimmed milk is not suitable for children under 2, because the fat content is not sufficient.