Stephen Donnelly, our Minister for Health, launched the first-ever Healthy Eating Guidelines for children aged one to four. This was done alongside Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman and Minister of State and Public Health and Wellbeing, Frank Feighan.
The new National Healthy Eating Guidelines is aimed to help parents establish healthy eating guidelines and habits with children from a young age. According to the Government, treats should be only be given once a week.
The guidelines suggest parents should only give children aged between one and four a single square of chocolate, three soft jellies, five crisps or half a plain biscuit.
Sorry, what now?
New food pyramid
Developed by nutritional experts in Ireland, the guidelines are based on Irish dietary evidence. A newly designed food pyramid has also been launched. This is aimed at helping parents understand what exactly children should be eating, and how much.
The new food pyramid published last week encourages parents and guardians to offer children three meals. Two to three healthy snacks can be given each day, using child-size servings and portions. For example, a serving size of fruits or vegetables should fit into the palm of your hand.
Other key messages from the guidelines suggest milk is a key food; children should have at least three servings a day. Parents should offer water or milk as a drink and avoid sugary cordials and fizzy drinks. Lead by example, and have a routine and set time for meals and snacks.
As part of the new guidelines, advice on Vitamin D intake has been updated. It now suggests that children should now take supplements every day from Halloween (31st October) to St. Patrick’s Day (17th March). Children living in Ireland don’t get enough Vitamin D vital for healthy bones and teeth in the winter months.
Minister Donnelly spoke at the launch of the guidelines last week. He said: "We all want to give our children the very best start and helping them to establish a healthy relationship with food is something that will benefit them for their entire lives.
"These guidelines will help parents and carers to set their children up for a healthier life and are another step to help make the healthy choice the easier choice for everyone.
"As Minister for Health, I’m very glad this progress has been made for the future health of our nation’s children.
"These guidelines represent a significant step in implementing our Obesity Policy under Healthy Ireland and Sláintecare."