There is a strong link between portion size and many health and food concerns.
Have you ever considered the importance of portion size when it comes to the food you are offering your children?
As it turns out – it’s pretty important. There is a strong link between portion size and many health and food concerns.
Let’s look at the actual amount of food we are serving our children first. How much of it actually ends up going to waste? I know our food bin is embarrassingly full most nights and the waste is really avoidable. The thing is – my son is actually a decent eater. He eats most things but I have been guilty of putting way too much food on his plate.
It tends to result in an air of negativity with is actually completely avoidable. For example, last night he ate a salmon fillet, some courgette, broccoli and one of his baby potatoes. After the meal, I felt deflated because he barely touched the potatoes. I even commented on the fact that he “didn’t finish his dinner” but when I think about it now the kid ate a full fillet of salmon and heaps of vegetables.
I’m a bit uncomfortable about the fact that I somehow viewed it as a negative. The issue, in this case, was definitely portion size. Had I put fewer potatoes and just less food, in general, on the plate he would have probably finished the whole thing.
In terms of healthy eating, the composition of our children’s plates should aim to even loosely reflect the healthy food pyramid and the recommended amounts of each food group.
More protein, more fruit, more whole grains, more vegetables and less saturated fat and sugar. If we put a plate of deep fried chips in front of a child and a couple of pieces of broccoli beside it you can predict that the chips will be given priority. This may be the same kid who refuses most things at dinner time and requests a lot of fried beige foods.
Experts believe that there really is a link between portion size and fussy eating. When a child sees a giant plate of food it automatically feels overwhelming. It appears to be a punishment or a great big task, especially when that plate involves something new or something they specifically do not like to eat. As humans we eat with our eyes and the same can be said for children.
In many cases, a smaller plate of food which involves a mix of old favourites and healthier options could go down a lot better. Your child may approach that plate of food in a more open-minded manner and they might just surprise you. Because the plate of food was smaller than normal they will also possibly get to enjoy the praise for “finishing” their whole plate of dinner.
Portion size and childhood obesity are also intrinsically linked. As a nation, we are deemed to be serving our children portions of food that are far greater than their calorie needs. Unfortunately, childhood obesity is at an all-time high in Ireland and it is something that many of us feel concerned about. We often equate big portions with joy as it feels great to be giving our children that delicious plate of food.
As children, we may have had much less money and therefore smaller portions. It is important to consider the negative ways in which childhood obesity could impact their lives though. An obese child is far more likely to become an obese adult and none of us wants those health concerns for our children.
Sometimes less is more and it’s actually quite empowering to know that the kids can always ask for more if they want it. It means less waste and if there are leftovers in the pot afterwards it might just make life easier on the cooking front tomorrow.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.