Irish parents would benefit from counseling about children’s food phobias, including irrational fears or aversion to certain foods.
That’s according to a study published this week by Safefood – ‘Exploring the World of Food’ – which looked at the factors influencing the eating habits of families in Ireland.
It revealed that parents’ choices were consistently guided by children‘s preferences, perceived dietary demands and perceived needs.
Parents were noted as devising strategies to ensure that children eat a balanced nutritious diet, for example by negotiating with the child to eat foods perceived to be healthy, buying foods that are low in sugar, or using creative ways to “hide” vegetables in meals.
The study made a number of recommendations, including the development of resources to provide parents with advice on how to circumvent children’s food phobias and include more fruits and vegetables in diets.
He also recommended that healthy eating campaigns consider crafting messages around the value of eating together as a family because of the proven health benefits.
Children’s budget, time and preferences have impacted food decisions across the island of Ireland according to a new @safefood_net report. Learn more in #NutritionNews https://t.co/TM9ObpOqoL @safefood_net @CPH_QUB @QUBIGFS @HPRC_NUIG pic.twitter.com/QvUu4r50Jg
— safefood (@safefoodnetwork)
April 5, 2022
The Covid-19 pandemic and its effects were also reported in the study.
It is noted as having had a “significant effect in altering food purchasing habits, food practices and consumption” with both positive and negative changes.
This includes a positive increase in the number of families eating together, while a negative aspect includes an increase in food insecurity and dependency on food aid due to unemployed parents experiencing a drop in income.
Further research on the broader and longer-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on food and consumer behaviors, food practices and food insecurity was recommended.
It is hoped that the findings will guide future changes in the area of home food environments and contribute to recommendations for healthy eating at home.