Irish parents should adopt the French approach and encourage their kids to try fruit and veg at least eight times before ruling out new tastes.
That was one of the messages from trainee doctors yesterday who told primary schoolchildren there was scientific evidence to prove the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
The UCC medical students visited Glasheen NS to talk to pupils about nutrition and healthy eating as part of their medical nutrition module.
They discussed digestion, healthy nutrition, the importance of calcium and vitamin D for bone health, and encourage them to try to increase their intake of fruit and vegetables.
However, they also stressed the importance of tasting healthy food over and over again.
Module co-ordinator Bridget Maher said the French believe you should try a food you dislike at least eight times.
“Often after seven or eight tastings, children actually begin to like the food they originally disliked,” she said.
“The rise in overweight children and adults in Ireland is alarming and has worrying consequences for individuals, the health service and society.
“These kids are innocent victims of the times they live in.
“The message needs to be positive, not punitive. Little changes make a big difference. We need to encourage, support and educate, to give these kids the tools to a healthy lifestyle.”
She also said nutritional knowledge is becoming more important in medical education.
“Medical students spend a great deal of time learning about the drugs we give to patients,” she said.
“It is about time we paid more attention to what we put into our bodies every day, at every meal.”
Glasheen NS has a school nutrition policy to encouraging a positive attitude towards food.
Each child is offered a healthy, nutritionally balanced lunch, as well as fruit and a drink.
Children who prefer to bring their own lunch to school are advised on suitable, healthy options.
They are discouraged from bringing bars, biscuits, fizzy drinks, and crisps but are allowed to bring a small treat on Friday.
The school has a regular Fruity Fridays event where children are given extra fruit, and children in fifth and sixth classes learn how to make soup.
*Drink water instead of fizzy, sugary drinks
*Learn how to make an omelette
*Try that vegetable again, again, and again
*Food is fuel and dirty diesel makes for a bad engine. If you eat a lot of fried foods and processed foods, you may feel irritable and lack energy
*Eating fruits and vegetables, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and even a small amount of meat will make you feel good and look good
*Everyone needs a treat now and again
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