Unlike many parents, Caroline Farrell, who lives in Sallins, County Kildare, has never had a problem feeding her children well, in part because she cooks all of her family’s meals from zero.
Nevertheless, the eating habits also reflect the personality of her children. “My daughter, who is eight, is actually a pretty picky eater. She made me realize that it’s probably not what you get at home, it’s just who you are, ”she said.
Farrell was speaking following a report on the eating habits of high school teens in the state, which found most ate too much salt, sugar and saturated fat and too few vegetables.
“I consider myself a healthy eater, any food I get at home is completely made from scratch. Obviously you’d have treats or whatever, ”says her 16-year-old son Conor.
“I have always eaten healthy since I was young. I’ve always had the opportunity to try new foods, ”he continues. However, there are other influences that his mother accepts.
When he’s out with friends, he says he’d be more likely to eat take-out, while “ideas or ads” found on social media also play their part.
Why do so many teens eat poorly? “There can be plenty of reasons. It could be family, it could just be the way they always ate. It could be stressful, especially for people doing the Leaving Cert, ”he told the Irish Times.
Meanwhile, Maebh Maguire and 15-year-old Laura Milhorn, strolling along the Grand Canal, both see themselves as “mostly” healthy eaters, although, again, take-out is popular when it comes to eating. ‘they are among friends.
“If I know some foods are bad, I will walk away from them,” Maguire says, although her friend adds, “Sometimes if we went out we ate bad foods, kind of negatively influenced. . “
“Fast food is so easy to get,” agrees Maguire.
However, the influence of friends on the eating habits of young people is not always negative. In fact, say teenage girls Ella Tobin and Jenny Butler, trying to be healthy actually became popular during the Covid lockdown.
They try to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, helped by the recent emphasis on healthy eating in school, Butler says, while social media, such as TikTok, has positively influenced teens over the course of the year. last year, says her friend.
Siobhán Hannifan, mother of a seven-year-old and a 10-year-old, says it’s important not to lay the law too often with children, as they can often want what they are told to do not eat. “I try not to label food as ‘bad’,” she says.
Children have different eating habits. Her daughter has a bigger sweet tooth than her son, for example, while the presentation of food on the kitchen table can influence the way they think about food.
Louise Butler, mother of 3-year-old Rose, struggles at home to feed her daughter vegetables, but when she is at nursery with other children, her daughter empties a plate full of vegetables because of the ‘others do.
“It’s really, really difficult. When she was very young she ate very well and now I think everything has gone downhill. I don’t remember the exact time, but I guess it is normal for children.
“She’s like the typical three-year-old now in that her favorite things would be stereotypes like pizza, fish fingers, sausage, but I would have a hard time getting her to eat a vegetable.” I don’t care too much, however.
“Regardless of the nursery, kind of herd mentality, there she cleans her plate.” There are always all kinds of vegetables. All the kids sit together and they eat it, ”Butler told the Irish Times.
She tried replacing treats like jellies with fruit. Ideally, she would just take all the unhealthy foods off the menu, but the reality of raising a toddler doesn’t make that easy. “For me, the point is just to get her to eat,” she said.