This week we turn to the real experts on what children want to eat: the kids – and receive some surprisingly healthy answers
Eat your greens. It’s the relentless parental chime in an age of food warnings, childhood obesity and strong-minded tots.
Inundated by advice, many parents are left confused about what kids should eat, how to cater to ‘picky eaters’, and are treats allowed, like ever?
It’s true, Australian children don’t eat enough vegetables. Between two and 18, kids eat on average 1.8 serves of veg a day, and less than 1 per cent consume the recommended number of serves of veg, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Adelaide health research in 2016 found processed and ‘junk foods’ make up half of many children’s daily energy intake. It’s no wonder that around one in four Australian children aged five to 17 are overweight or obese.
We know the rules.As food writer Michael Pollan puts it, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Kids and parents alike are constantly bombarded with new advice.Fat falls in and out of fashion, we’re told to quit sugar and there’s always a must-eat super food. Avocado, anyone?
But no matter the advice, the latest health trend or ‘wisdom’, kids, as they say, will be kids. Children can remind us that food should also be a joy.It’s time to listen. Kids will always want their cake, their towers of waffles, their wedges of watermelon. They may also make some surprising, adult- approved choices.We turn to the real experts on what children want to eat in 2017: the kids.
I’m not a picky eater, but with some foods I just won’t eat them. Not with most things. Like, I like eating a lot of advanced foods, like olives and kale chips, but I don’t really like eating things with pumpkin in them. I don’t like, what’s that sour thing you put in kombucha? Ginger. I don’t like ginger. I like shakshuka, which has eggy beans in it, and I only like sourdough bread, not the other soft kind.We call that party bread.
The worst thing I’ve ever eaten is pumpkin and spinach lasagne, which my mum made last week. I used to really like pumpkin but now I don’t that much, and I used to like, what’s it called? Spanakopita. But I just started not liking it. Sometimes mum makes things too much. I used to not like mayonnaise and pickles but now I love them and I also don’t like chicken curry anymore, homemade, because it was made too much. Lebanese is the best food because it’s got just all those lentils and pita bread and hummus.And pickles.
JACK (PICTURED, LEFT), 6
I’m not really fussy with food but when my sister Marley gets better food than me I fuss. I like most things. I used to eat figs and brussels sprouts. I don’t even eat them anymore. I change my mind about food. I used to like Weetbix for breakfast and now I like waffles. I want to eat doughnuts with strawberry icing. They taste so good and I like their shape. I wish my parents would cook fish and chips and hash browns sometimes. What other things will they never give me? McDonalds! Kids at school definitely have a better lunch than me. A boy Toby sometimes [has] a mini doughnut, and a burger as his sandwich. But he is really fit, somehow.
BELLA (PICTURED, RIGHT), 6
I’m a fussy eater because I don’t like pickles.The worst thing I’ve ever eaten is pickles. I used to not like carrots and now I love carrots. Nobody has to make me eat them, I get them from the fridge by myself. They’re crunchy and nice. Pears aren’t as yummy as they used to be. I can make my own toast. If mum gives me a pickle I will hide it in the bin.
Healthy food is good but sometimes you need some sweets for a one-off. If you eat healthy for such a long time you might need to have some sweets. When I grow up I will eat pizza, and green beans, for dinner. My favourite food was a chocolate volcano exploding thing [chocolate lava pudding]. Italians eat the best food because there’s pizza and ice cream. Sometimes I worry about food. I don’t know whether I’m going to like new food and then if I eat a lump of it I might explode, it might be really bad.
MARLEY (PICTURED, MIDDLE), 9
We have a shopping problem in our family. My mum writes the shopping list and sometimes it’s too healthy. I’m not fussy, really. I mean I like Brussels sprouts. I don’t like them boiled but I like them roasted and with bacon. Mum makes them.The worst thing I don’t like is a tomato.Any tomato.
I have changed my mind about food. Mac and cheese, definitely. I used to think it’s too cheesy; now I like the cheese. I like middle cheese. I like pizza. And chorizo. It’s a thick, spicier version of salami. It’s yummy. It originated in Spain, we learnt about it at school.It comes in packets. But my favourite food is doughnuts. Doughnuts, definitely. I like strawberry ones. Except sometimes they’re too plain.But then I like the chocolate ones and they’re too bitter.So then I like the strawberry ones.
I don’t know what country makes the best food. What country makes waffles? [America.] OK, America. I can cook. I cooked a marble cake for my dad for his birthday. Sometimes when food in our cupboard gets so boring I cook my own lunch.