*This is a collaborative guest post
Sleepless nights, tantrums, and toilet training. If you have a child, you might recognise these things as some of the main challenges of parenthood. But if you were to add something to it, what would it be? According to half of UK parents, another huge challenge is getting their child or children to eat at mealtimes, or to eat anything which is thought to be good for them.
A study carried out by Vitabiotics Wellteen found that over half of parents in the UK are rowing with their children at the table, and struggling to get them to eat what is considered a healthy meal. The figures also revealed how some parents are finding junk food wrappers and sweet packets hidden in their children’s bedrooms, raising concerns for their nutritional health.
Almost 40 per cent of parents believe their children eat more junk food such as cake, chocolate and crisps than they did when they were at the same age.
Mother of two Sarah Johnson said: “There’s nothing more challenging than getting my two to eat at mealtimes. It’s even harder when they get to secondary school and start having the freedom to go to the off license or ice cream van. It’s not unusual for my son to come home with a full lunch box because he’s eaten crisps and sweets, and will turn his nose up at normal food.
“I actually think kids are exposed to too much sugar these days and they can get addicted to it, to the point it replaces real food. When I was his age I sat down with my family every night and ate a warm meal, and enjoyed it.”
She added: “I do find that it helps to be positive around the kids, showing them you're enthusiastic about a good stew or roast dinner, they start to see the value in it after a while. I just wish they weren’t exposed to junk literally everywhere they go.”
The study by Vitabiotics raised one particularly notable point – which is that 1 in 5 parents feel to have ‘lost control’ of their child by the time they reach 13 years of age. This connects to food, social behaviour, who they are spending time with, and generally what they are doing when they are out of sight. The study of 2000 parents of teenagers aged 13-18 found six in 10 feel like they control was lost as their children reach an age of independence.
A spokesperson for Wellteen vitamins, said: “With a bigger range of snacks to choose from, it is no surprise many parents think their offspring are indulging in more junk food than they did at the same age.
“When our children are young, it’s easy to know exactly what they are doing, who they are with and what they are having to eat and drink.
“Even when they start school and nursery, you still get a good idea of what they are doing from teachers and notes sent home.
“But as they get older and start to do things on their own, it can be harder to keep such a close eye on them, especially when it comes to their diet.
“As they travel to school by themselves or head out unaccompanied with friends, they have the opportunity to eat and drink foods they know they wouldn’t usually be allowed at home.
“As a result, parents are left trying to guess what they have had to eat and whether or not they are getting everything they need.”
If you are concerned about your child’s eating habits, it might be worth checking out supplements and vitamins which can help keep them nourished. Click here for more info.