This just in: 70% of Australian parents don’t know the nutrition guidelines

Tara Ali
September 8, 2016

We all know that if kids designed the food pyramid, there’d be 6-8 servings of fairy floss and sugary cereal per day, a bunch of white foods and a couple of peas. Maybe a half-chewed carrot.


In the first Swisse Kids Health Report, a national survey of 1,000 Australian parents has found that while one in two parents are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned about their children’s nutrition, only 30 per cent of them know what their kids should actually be eating. Oh.

With fussy eating being almost a given at some stage, it’s easy to see how parents get confused. Half of parents (44 per cent) ‘regularly’ or ‘sometimes’ give their kids food that’s not ticking any health boxes, just so they’ll eat something.

The foods that kids like to eat best, according to the report include fruit, ice cream, chips, cheese and lollies. While they’re dodging vegetables and fish – the foods that will benefit them the best nutritionally. Parents are also more likely to give their children vitamins and supplements if their kids are fussy eaters, with 33 per cent providing them as a backup for eating a less than sound diet.


Day on a plate

In case you need a brush up, here’s nutritionist at Swisse, Sherree Banh’s general guide to what kids should be eating each day:

  • 5 serves of vegetables
  • 2 serves of fruit
  • 4 serves of grains
  • 2 serves of lean meats or legumes
  • 2-3 serves of dairy foods

“Children should be enjoying a wide variety of foods from all food groups,” says Banh.


Now to get them to eat it

Of course, knowing the healthy eating guidelines doesn’t mean your kids will sit still for longer than four minutes and chow down on baked salmon with wilted greens (if only). Here are Banh’s tips to turning your kids on to healthier eats:

  • Get your kids to cook with you! Most kids go through a stage when they want to do everything themselves. They may be more interested in eating something that they have created themselves.
  • Serve vegie chips: Sweet potato, pumpkin, zucchini.
  • If you must, hide vegies like carrots and zucchini in pasta sauces, muffins, pies and breads.
  • Breakfast can be a sugary minefield. Make healthy muffins the night before and warm them up in the microwave for breakfast.
  • Instead of sugary cereal, let your child pick smoothie ingredients to blend up such as yoghurt, fruits, oats and a dash of honey. Let them press the whizz button themselves!