YVONNE CULLETON: How to we get our kids to eat healthy?

Yvonne Culleton

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Yvonne Culleton

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

YVONNE CULLETON: How to we get our kids to eat healthy?

A very hard job that it is, and I mean very hard, some days I feel like losing the will to live listening to my kids to be honest but with perseverance we get there in the end! I think if you put in the hard work with them when they are young it will hopefully stay with them later in life. And by eating healthy a lot of the time yourself too they will most likely follow suit.


It can be very hard to get kids to eat healthy foods, I remember my eldest daughter Amber refusing to even pick up a carrot when she was younger, she even hated the feel of it, some days it was like a scene out of ‘I’m Celebrity Get me Out of Here’, the eating trial! You know how dramatic they can be having to eat white wormy things, and bull’s testicles!! Well they weren’t a patch on Amber!!!


But most days out of the week I’d just leave them on her plate but not telling her to eat them, and slowly but surely she’d attempt one and then two and now she eats them no problem, she even prefers them raw. All my kids prefer them raw to be honest. I just chop them up into sticks and leave them in a dish on the table and they snack on them throughout the day.

Now I’m not saying my kids are super healthy and don’t eat junk etc they most certainly do, they have to have a childhood too, because let’s face it junk is a part of our childhood, remember years ago we had Meanies, Frosties, Smiley Bars, Klipso, Stinger Bars and Fat Frog icepops, ah the memories!  

But back then we didn’t have the money to buy them all of the time, and my mother would never buy them in her weekly shopping. And when we were told NO we didn’t ask a second time! Now they are everywhere and a lot more accessible, with aisle’s and aisles of them in the supermarkets, and at very cheap prices in the bargain shops.

The government have stepped up though with removing them from the shelves at the checkouts and replacing them with healthy snacks which is fantastic. Because we all know the struggle when we are trying to load up our shopping on the conveyer belt and the constant begging “Ma please, Ma ah Ma Pleeeaassse”!


Our treat days are Pizza Friday plus they gets treats on Friday, their Daddy brings them home ice cream every Friday evening (and me too), and Taco Saturday, and when the X Factor is on we love Malteasers and popcorn! Even choosing popcorn rather than crisps will also be a much healthier choice. We also love trips to Eddie Rockets or Supermacs and the cinema every now and then.

The one thing I do refuse to give them is jelly sweets and fizzy drinks. A mixture of gelatine, food colouring and sugar turns my stomach, I know they taste lovely but no no no.. Why would I want to put that in my kids bodies..  I will not buy them. The only time I do (sweets not fizzy drinks) is when they have their school tour but my god it takes a lot for me to buy them! Or if they go to parties and they come home I always know they’ve had them because they are hyper with red rosy cheeks! I never buy fizzy drinks either.

I just don’t have junk in the house, I do buy biscuits for them but I’ll always check on the back for sugar, fat, and salt content. The best ones are rich tea or digestive’s. But they’re only allowed them if they have eaten good during the day. I do get “Mam you’re so mean” a lot but I just reply “Well I just love ye so much that’s why I want to keep ye healthy”. And yep they do roll their eyes to heaven back at me!

I’ll always have fruit in and nuts and seeds in a jar beside the fruit bowl too. They’ll reach for them quicker if they see them first.

Other little changes like buying ketchup with 50% less sugar, and salt and of course NO fizzy drinks whatsoever will help.  The sugar content in these are ridiculously high. Some yoghurts have high sugar content in them also, so just read the label before you buy them. Maybe limit them to 1 a day or every second day. Remember 4g’s of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Home cooked meals are always best, convenience foods like “chicken” nuggets, chips etc have no nutritional value whatsoever. You can recreate them at home yourself which is quite easy. Let them help you prepare meals also, I know sometimes I’m like “the state of the place” but if they are involved in prepping their own meals they’ll take pride in eating it.  I will add the recipe at the end if you’d like to try them out.

It doesn’t always have to be dishes like potato and veg and meat, you can have any kind of combo just once it has protein, carbs and greens. I’d often make rice, eggs and peas or carrots and mine love it. And remember they are kiddies so give child size portions.

Juices are also popular in our house they made up their own combinations!! Jack’s is apple and carrot, Rory’s is pear and apple, Abigail’s is cucumber and kiwi and Ambers is just orange juice. Because they can make their own it also gives them the independence to choose their own rather than been told what they are having. The dentist did tell me though to limit them as the acidity is bad for their teeth so they wouldn’t have them every day and obviously eating them is better as the skins on these fruits are full of fibre.

Here is the recipe of chicken goujans and chips I make:

Homemade chicken goujans and homemade chips:

Ingredients:                                                       

Chicken strips                                                    

2 or 3 slices of Brown bread (for the breadcrumbs)                                                

Potato’s                                                                 

1 or 2 eggs                                                           

Carrots/peas or 50% less sugar beans.

Coconut/olive oil.

Pinch of salt and pepper.

Method:

Pre heat oven for 10 mins, add coconut oil to a tray and place in oven for 5 mins.

Put the bread into food processer and pulse until into breadcrumbs, then place into bowl.

Beat the eggs and put into bowl.

Dip the chicken into the egg first then cover it with breadcrumbs.

Place on a tray then glaze with milk to make them nice a crispy, then place in the oven for 25-30 mins until you know when the chicken is cooked.

For the chips:


Chop into chips or into circles (popular in my house )

Par boil for 6/7 mins then drain and place onto the tray with the melted coconut oil, and shuffle so the oil has covered the chips.

Place in oven until golden brown and you know chips are cooked!

Serve with carrots, peas or 50% less sugar beans.

And give them a squirt of the 50% less sugar/salt ketchup.

At least you know its proper food as you prepped and cooked it yourself.


Look I know every child is different and it can be very hard but if they eat healthy a lot of the time you’re doing something right.

Good luck!

Thank you for reading,

Yvonne.