Time to rethink the 5-a-day plan
Why you should reconsider the 5-a-day plan for children
Just when you’d managed to get the kids eating their five-a-day fruit and veg, and cutting down on saturated fat, a new book is claiming that’s not quite the right way to go. A trio of experts insist that while vegetables are indeed good for kids, fruit should only be eaten in moderation, but they can eat as much butter and cheese as they like. The book, which features plenty of healthy, low-sugar recipes for children, identifies three ‘golden rules’ for children’s eating.
The rules are simply: no added sugar; no refined carbs; keep it real.
Chef Jonno Proudfoot, who wrote the book Super Food For Superchildren with sport and exercise scientist Professor Tim Noakes and paediatric dietitian Bridget Surtees, says: “If authorities suggest five fruits and five vegetables are the same thing, I think they’ve made the rules too simple.
“Five fruits is certainly better than five cokes, but five vegetable portions will be infinitely better. I think five-a-day could live harmoniously within this realm of eating, provided it was five veggies and occasional fruit.” As for the long-demonised saturated fat, the authors insist early studies suggesting ‘saturated fat is bad’ were “flawed and contradictory”, pointing out that the argument that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol concentrations, which directly cause heart disease, is “at best a gross oversimplification and at worst just plain wrong”, and children need fats for healthy growth and development.
NO REFINED CARBS
Refined carbs are carbohydrates that have been broken down during food processing. A good example of a refined carb is flour, which is created when a grain, usually wheat, is finely ground. This removes the fibrous outer layer, which contains most of its vitamins and minerals, and the remaining glucose spikes blood glucose levels, says the book, while providing little or no nutritional value.
The authors point out that if a child eats a bowl of sugar-coated rice-based cereal, for example, the refined carbs in the rice will break down to sugar too, so the child effectively eats a bowl of sugar.
NO ADDED SUGAR
It’s been known for decades that high sugar consumption causes dental problems and is a cause of obesity, says the book, which points out that sugar offers no nutritional benefit, but is addictive and too much over the long-term can lead to health problems including diabetes, and complications linked to obesity including heart disease and strokes.
KEEP IT REAL
Real, non-processed whole foods are the basis of healthy eating, says the book, pointing out that processed foods are packed with sugars and refined carbs, plus various additives “that really shouldn’t be passing through your child’s body”.
If this new way of eating seems daunting, Proudfoot says introducing it gradually is a lot better than not doing it at all.
“It would be best to dive right in, but there can only be benefits to removing even the smallest amounts of sugar and refined carbs from one’s diet,” he explains.