I’m a nutritionist – here’s the five mistakes all parents are making when it comes to their children’s diets
WE all want our children to be happy and well fed.
But parenting can be hard work, and with ‘mumfluencers’ clogging up your social media feeds, it can be hard to know if what you’re doing is right.
Looking after a little one is a journey, especially when it comes to mealtimes, and one expert has said that we might be making a couple of mistakes when it comes to their diets.
At the end of last year, parents were warned to be wary when it comes to the foods they are buying for their children.
Health campaigners found that some products contained close to four teaspoons of sugar.
Speaking to Sun Health, nutritionist Priya Tew said there are some things to bear in mind when it comes to what we dish up for our kids.
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1. Beware in the yoghurt aisle
Yoghurts are a great source of calcium and protein that promote the growth of healthy bones and teeth for your children, making them a fabulous food to have in your little ones diet, Priya said.
However, more often than not, yoghurts marketed at children can contain high amounts of sugar.
“So it is important to check the labels, look for the “of which sugars” figure on the label.
“Around 4g per 100g of this is natural sugar from the lactose in the yoghurt, anything extra is likely added sugar.
“You can also check the ingredients label to see if sugar has been added in.”
Priya, who is the in-house nutritionist at For Aisha, said if you’re unsure, then stick to a natural or Greek yoghurt and add fruit to give it a natural sweetness.
2. Portion control
A lot of parents often overestimate how much their children can eat, this can be off putting to little eyes and tummies and can be a reason that children refuse foods, Priya said.
The expert added that this is a really easy mistake to make, especially if you’re cooking the same meal for all the family and plating it all up at the same time.
“Try using smaller plates for your little one, that way you can offer smaller portions that will not overwhelm them and they can listen to their own appetites.
“It’s always better for them to ask for more, than leave food on the plate. Remind them to tune into their tummies and see when they are full,” she said.
3. Restricting foods
As a dietitian and nutritionist, Priya said that she lives by the motto that all foods can be consumed in moderation and no foods should be banned.
While some foods are higher in sugar and fat than others, she said there is a way to help your child understand this.
“I like to call these fun foods that we enjoy on occasion and in moderation.
“A blanket ban on these foods may increase the risk of your child developing an unhealthy relationship with food.
“Remember, it is ok for them to consume some fun foods, just as long as they are also getting enough of their vitamins and nutrients through other food groups,” she said.
4. Not planning
Being a parent can be quite chaotic, especially if you’re working full time as well, Priya said.
The expert, who is a mum-of-six, said she understands the struggle and knows how easy it is to just whack food in the oven at the end of a long day.
“Whilst meal planning takes time and is another chore to do, it really does help to ensure your family has a varied and nutritious range of meals.
“Many parents can make the mistake of not planning meals ahead for the week.
“This will often lead to less balanced meal times, lacking in the nutrients that your little ones will need to help them to grow and develop. It might sound simple but planning your meals ahead of time can have a huge impact on your child’s diet,” she said.
We all want our children to drink enough fluid throughout the day.
Sometimes this can become a struggle, with children saying water is boring and requesting juice or milk all the time.
Whilst this can seem ok, juice is high in natural sugars that are not good for those teeth, Priya said.
“Milk and juice can also be quite filling for your child, which often means they are too full to eat their food at mealtimes.
“Try and stay away from constantly giving them milk and juice throughout the day and opt for water instead.
“Milk is great to have at mealtimes and juice can be kept as a fun drink to have on those more special occasions,” Priya said.
It’s key to remember that you should gradually move your child onto solid foods.
The NHS states that weaning can begin from six months and over.