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More …food for thought

So the British Government is going to once again improve school meals. But, as parents, do we do our bit? I have written before about food and developing good food habits in our children.

My two boys are like chalk and cheese with foods, one will eat anything but the other is fussy. My youngest, once as a toddler, demolished a whole fruit bowl of grapes and bananas. I was reminded of this at a school picnic when I returned to find a large punnet of strawberries gone and just the stalks remaining – healthy fruit, at least, and an eagerness to eat it can’t be criticised too much. Yet alongside eating well is also the skill of cooking food and teaching a child how to cook healthy meals.

On Father’s Day I was presented with some homemade cakes and it started me thinking. The first things we teach a child to cook are, normally, biscuits or cake. Cupcakes or cookies – often from a shop bought packet with Peppa Pig, Noddy or some other TV character on, then maybe graduating to home-made cake. Doesn’t that strike you as a little odd, that the first thing we teach a child to cook are the things we are trying to stop them eating excessively?

I grew up watching my Grandma cook meals from scratch, meat and potatoes pie, Scouse, Lancashire hot pot, Liver and Bacon and Beef Casserole with Dumplings all accompanied with assorted seasonal veg… proper working class fayre.  But as families use more packets, tins and even ready meals – do our children see traditional cooking? I have met five year olds who believe chips come frozen and had no idea they are potatoes!!

So it brought a smile to my face, when talking about a trip to my mother’s, that my eldest (the fussy eater) said he was looking forward to the home made shepherd’s pie, and the youngest commented how he was looking forward to cooking again with ‘pops’ (my step father). I  asked them what they had made last time …it was lasagne (from scratch) with shop bought fresh pasta, the skill of home-made passed through generations as food is cooked with grandparents , something I know I enjoyed and now my children enjoy.

However  I still worry that at nurseries and schools  that teach basic cooking or do it as an activity all start with cakes and biscuits, whilst I can see the ease and the reasons that this is a good choice for the nursery. I do wonder whether it is a good choice for our children and how it squares with promoting a healthy balanced diet.
As a parent I worry the government need to step in to make school healthier, I worry that some parents don’t know any better. In fact, I found the recent TV programme ”Dentist” scary – I was watching  a 5 year old having 8 teeth removed due to decay – just because his parents frequently gave him the wrong drinks and food. The reasons given by a smiling parent … it keeps the child quiet if they get rotten teeth so what?  The rise of many health problems from obesity to type 2 diabetes are all related to diet and how we eat, don’t we as parents and adults have a social and moral responsibility to teach our children to eat a healthy diet or is it easier to opt for the quiet life?

Will you decide? Or should uncle David decide for you?

Till next week

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of Dad.info.

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