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Share your views on healthy and balanced diets – you could win a £200 Love2Shop voucher NOW CLOSED

(103 Posts)
AngelieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Mar-14 09:39:45

We all know that there is a lot of advice out there on how to go about having a 'healthy' and 'balanced' diet, but at times it can feel like a bit of a mine field. So, we'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences on knowing what the right foods are to feed you and your family.

Below are a few points to get you started, but feel free to add any other comments you have:
- When it comes to 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?
- Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?
- Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.

Everyone who adds a comment will be entered into a prize draw to win a £200 Love2Shop voucher.

Thanks, and good luck!
MNHQ

mamaduckbone Tue 08-Apr-14 22:47:50

I feel pretty confident on what the right foods are to feed my children - they est plenty of fruit and Vegas and unhealthy snacks like chocolate and crisp are a treat rather than an everyday part of their diet. The only thing I find difficult is judging portion sizes, since I have 2 boys who are both very tall for their age and have very healthy appetites. I struggle with finding food to.fill them that is still good for them, especially when they get home from.school starving!!

midwifeandmum Thu 03-Apr-14 18:17:29

Very difficult to get greens into dds both are 2 and 5. I find mixing them in with mash potatoes and gravy helps

EwanHoozami Thu 03-Apr-14 10:16:11

- When it comes to 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?

I find it confusing that despite plentiful and credible evidence to the contrary, the government's main messages on healthy eating dictate that low-fat is optimal for health. A recent leaflet that came home in my 4 year-old's school bag advised me to switch to semi-skimmed milk, for example. GPs regularly spend NHS funds on subsidising obese patients to attend Weight Watchers or Slimming World, which in my opinion exist to keep their customers yo-yo dieting and miserable on their low-fat high-carb regime. It's becoming more apparent that sugar is the root cause of the weight problem in the UK so why the misinformation that high-carb (i.e. high sugar) regimes are the way forward?

- Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?

I feel fairly confident that my family get a balanced diet. Lots of green veg, good clean protein and natural fats. I hold pretty strong views on fat vs. sugar but I'm realistic enough that chocolate and cake etc is widely available, attractive to children and my boys are going to have a certain amount in their diets. I don't want to be the po-faced mum that whips birthday cake off their plates at a party, but I do try and educate them that it's not an ideal source of nutrition and should be eaten sparingly (I don't use the word "treat" to describe sugary snacks to them however)

- Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.

I read a fair bit about low-carb and paleo nutrition, particularly from Briffa, Taubes and resources such as Mark's Daily Apple. I find Eat Like A Dinosaur a good starting point for a healthy diet for children that doesn't include loads of grain and sugar. I'm certainly pretty cynical about "healthy eating" messages from either the government or the big food industries (who are too closely linked for comfort in my humble, slightly tin-foil-hatted opinion..)

letsgetreadytoramble Thu 03-Apr-14 09:34:12

I try very hard to provide my toddler with a healthy and balanced diet but I do find it hard for two reasons:

1. He attends nursery 4 days a week and I need to provide his breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. This means I need to plan his meals in advance and batch cook for him. I am not a very inspired cook so I find this hard and am forever trawling the internet for new, easy recipes to try. I try to give him fish once a week, red meat once a week and a portion of lentils twice a week and I get as many vegetables as I can into his meals but they are always frozen and then zapped in the microwave so he rarely eats totally fresh veg. I give him fresh peppers and cucumber to munch on at lunch sometimes but that's about it.

2. The cost of fruit - I buy as much fruit as I can at the beginning of the week but I give him 3 portions a day, and the cost of that adds up. I try to give him different types of fruit each day so by the time I've bought enough variety I'm struggling to afford everything else he needs.

I'm also never quite sure of portion sizes for fruit - he loves it and would eat a whole punnet of grapes if I let him. I know a whole punnet isn't good for him but not sure where to draw the line - too much results in an upset tummy but we're always being told that they should eat lots of fresh fruit.

babsmam Thu 03-Apr-14 07:04:20

It's the mixed messages that get to me. What is healthy one months seems not to be the next.

I do everything in moderation and try and go as fresh and home made as possible.

I tend to read all of the advice then try and see if I need to make any changes. I don't change for changing sake but if a piece of research is well founded.

I have difficulty with all the processed kids stuff that just tempts them but I'm not happy letting them have as it's junk

Featherbag Wed 02-Apr-14 20:22:31

I'm fairly relaxed with my 2yo, I like to make sure each meal has a good mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat, and that he gets at least 6-7 fruit and veg portions a day. I allow treats, but not every day, and I prefer chocolate to jellies etc if he's having sweets.

Pollywallywinkles Wed 02-Apr-14 19:06:27

- When it comes to 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?

Don't feel particularly confused about healthy eating. Sometimes health messages an be conflicting. At one point eggs were not good for you, but now they are.

- Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?

Feel confident as does husband and adult daughter.

- Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.

Basis of nutritional advice was taught at school in 1970s. For up to date information I tend to use a reputable source of information on the Internet such as NHS website.

mjmooseface Wed 02-Apr-14 15:33:40

Well said, BellaVida, on every point you made!

mjmooseface Wed 02-Apr-14 15:32:27

I don't listen to any of the latest health information any more because what is good for you to eat one day, is dangerous to one's health the next. These scientists and nutritionalists etc change their mind all the time and I have stopped listening now because it's all so confusing. I don't drink alcohol or smoke or take any kind of drugs so I'm fine on that front. When it comes to food, I mainly eat what I like to eat. I don't add lots of salt or sugar to what I eat or cook. And I don't like crisps much. I am aware of what I'm supposed to eat and I do often look at the nutritional information on food packaging. I never did before meeting my husband and so when I am buying food for him, I look at the saturated fat levels as that is what he likes to be mindful of.

I find the nutritional labels very confusing, though. Often, the amounts are given per 100g for a 30g product or something like that. It never seems to be exactly for what the product is so you can be sure of exactly what's in your food.

To me, a balanced and healthy diet is eating lots of fruit and vegetables. Drinking water and pure fruit juices. Eating some meat, carbohydrates, dairy. For me, it's not eating a big meal too late at night or just before you go to bed as your body doesn't have long enough to digest your food - This is something I have struggled with having a young child and have found myself eating as late as 11 at night and then falling straight into bed after! I always feel bad when I do that.

I think stressing about food and how many calories you've had etc can be quite counter-productive to one's healthy eating. I think healthy eating has to go hand-in-hand with general looking after your body. Keeping fit and active.

Having said all that, I love at the end of the week, getting in a lot of treats and chocolates after a long, hard working week to share with the husband over the weekend. And we eat out/have a takeaway about once a month. We make sure we remain active though when we eat 'bad' stuff like that!

Like CheeseTMouse I'm not always sure of the correct portion sizes for my son. But he seems to be good at telling me when he's had enough or if he needs something else to eat. I try very hard to give him lots of variety with his meals and making sure he has plenty of fruit and veg has led me to eat more fruit and veg myself. All of this scary talk of obesity on the rise in young children has got me a bit paranoid about what I feed my son and hope that mine and husband's attitude to healthy eating rubs off on him as he gets older.

laurapotz Wed 02-Apr-14 15:13:37

- When it comes to 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?
I understand about healthy eating but I am a terrible comfort eater. With a six month old baby I often ending up reaching for the things that are quick, easy and apeal at the time rather than eating a balanced diet. My baby weight is really not shifting!
- Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?
I know what to feed myself and my husband but I'm less confident with my baby girl. I am currently weaning her and unsure I am giving her the right balance of nutrients.
- Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.
Mostly on the internet, but I plan to talk to a health visitor about feeding my baby.

BellaVida Wed 02-Apr-14 12:28:05

I teach my children that it is more about a healthy lifestyle than just healthy eating. I think it is more important to educate them so that they can make their own choices. My 7 and 10 year olds know about food groups and know what food they can eat freely and what things they can have in moderation and know to balance out their school lunch choices.

We are careful as a family not to comment on size, weight or to use food as a punishment or reward, but we do have treats on certain days, celebrations and holidays. I might be bombarded with advertising and messages on body image, but I don't want my children exposed to that, until they have the knowledge, confidence and maturity to deal with it.

When I was growing up, there simply wasn't the same availability of processes food. Meals were cooked from scratch and we baked our own bread, pies, cakes. We used refined sugar, full fat butter and many other things we are now told are bad for us! Then I remember we spent most of our time running around outside, climbing trees, going on bike rides and generally in the go. I'm still here!

mindingalongtime Wed 02-Apr-14 09:06:00

I just feel that the government have nothing better to do than scaremonger us about what we eat. Some people will never change they way they eat or the food they buy.

Most of us try and eat healthily, I just say, everything in moderation and of a little of something you like does no harm.

I see children everyday who are deprived of sweets, chocolate and biscuits and they are the ones who pig out at parties in quite a disgusting manner as their parents are not around to police them.

Cook from scratch with fresh food and you are pretty much on the right path.

GetKnitted Tue 01-Apr-14 20:59:29

I don't feel confused, I know that too much sugar is bad, particularly if combined with a lot of fat, I know that the ideal portion of rice or pasta is a single serving spoon on a plate, I know that processed food has far too much salt in and that the E numbers are through the roof, but I can't seem to explain it all to my ice age genes!

Blu Tue 01-Apr-14 16:46:03

When it comes to a 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?

Not really. To be honest, with some basic knowledge, it ought to be a matter of common sense. It is largely the barrage of advertising and endless reports about this and that that might confuse you so I ignore most of it, and stick to a basic diet of fruit and veg, complex carbs, protein and healthy oils, remember to include some oily fish, etc. And then everything else in addition is 'junk' or 'treats'.

Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?

Yes, I feel confident about how to do it., or what a balanced diet constitutes. Less confident that I actually achieve it: it's hard to keep young teens of the cinema popcorn, the cans of pop, the Haribo, especially once they are out and about and have money. Every occasion seems to warrant stuffing your face - on Mn a favourite pastime is a DVD and popcorn, I would just think 'watch a DVD'.

Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.

I don't 'source advice', I mostly try and ignore advertising. I read the broadsheet papers and take notice of things like when there was a report about the possible effects of preserved meats like ham and sausages, but eve then the info is so crude - even serious papers just print the press releases and leave out important scientific detail.

I think portion control is an issue. There was a Jamie Oliver programme where he showed what should be the right size portion of pasta, for example. I think we have fallen for the U.S model of pile it all on the plate, an feel that massive portions - pubs are terrible for this - are to be celebrated.

peronel Tue 01-Apr-14 16:14:42

I think I am informed enough to know what is healthy, but like many people I believed for a while that saturated fat was bad. Having been on an atkins type regime I am now far more concerned with levels of sugars - especially when they are disguised and given various names.
What annoys me is the amount of unhealthy stodge and confectionary that we are bombarded with on a daily basis...angry

supergreenuk Tue 01-Apr-14 15:19:49

I always get fed up and confused with the whole fruit juice thing. Yes it's full of sugar but one of your five a day. ????

I suppose as long as it's not the main drink and on offer all day it should be fine.

Flufflewuffle Tue 01-Apr-14 14:25:19

My philosophy is pretty simple I think. Everything in moderation, including moderation, to quote Oscar Wilde. smile

And I'm trying to teach my kids the same. You can have junk food and sugar, sure. But only a bit. And not every day. Because it does nothing for you other than taste good. But have some, because it is yummy. Plenty of fruit and veg.
Don't eat if you're full. And eat if you're hungry. Also, eat little bits and often.
Try to eat a bit of everything on your plate before you're done. You don't have to clear your plate. And never say you don't like something, until you've actually tried it. Properly. Giving it a lick doesn't count smile

quietbatperson Tue 01-Apr-14 13:40:35

This news story today about a recommendation to eat 7 portions of fruit and veg a day is a perfect example of how advice changes all the time, varies so much between countries, and how the public get mixed messages about healthy eating. The timing of this thread is unexpectedly apt.

Keepcalmanddrinkwine Mon 31-Mar-14 21:37:50

There is too much advice out there and most has an agenda. I try to feed my family a balanced, healthy diet but it's a challenge. Cooking from scratch with good quality ingredients is a good start.

The thing I'm finding most challenging is how sweeteners are put into everything now. I'd rather things were just less sweet.

nkf Mon 31-Mar-14 20:55:08

I don't believe in everything in moderation. I think moderation is a value judgment not a measurement. And nobody needs sugar.

We eat healthily most days, I cook and bake most things from scratch. I don't buy ready meals either. The kids don't have much in the way of sweets or chocolate but that means every now and then we treat ourselves with a takeaway or an ice cream or sweets and it really does feel like a great treat.
I don't feel guilty then as the rest of the time we are eating well.
Snacks are fruit or cereal and for lunches I make soups often which is a great way to get extra veg into them.
Everything in moderation that's my motto grin

Piscivorous Mon 31-Mar-14 19:43:04

When it comes to 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?
Very similar to what prettybird said. I'm not confused as I have adopted an approach of trying to buy only basic, fresh foodstuff. I don't buy anything that says low-fat on the label as it tells me it is heavily processed.
I find the media reporting irritating, that one week something is good for you and the next week bad. I also find it concerning that the powers that be are still peddling the high-carb, low-fat diet as a cure all despite a rising tide of evidence suggesting it may aggravate conditions like diabetes and obesity. Moderation and tailoring nutrition to the individual is far better than any dogmatic approach.
I hate the traffic light nutritional info as it shows sugars but not total carbohydrates so crap, processed food with sweeteners and starchy thickeners can look healthier than wholefoods, funny how each new way of doing things benefits the food manufacturers and makes it harder for the informed consumer hmm

Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?
I love cooking and am happy cooking most things from scratch. I think our diet is healthier now than 10 years ago as I have learned more about nutrition and subscribe less to the low fat myth.

Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.
Absolutely what prettybird said above. "Ignore the official advice. Read around the topic for yorself. Make your own decisions. Ask yourself why there has been such an epidemic in obesity since "low fat" became the mantra." That epidemic is also in heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other illnesses, how much of it is diet related or not we don't know but I don't believe that information is given easily due to big vested interests

prettybird Mon 31-Mar-14 13:14:37

When it comes to 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?
Not confused per se - but I have learnt to read around the topics for myself. As a result, I am not longer scared about saturated fats, eanjoy full fat milk (which is actually a low fat product despite perceptions) and am much more conscious of avoiding sugar in all its forms. This doesn't mean that I won't eat carbs - but that I enjoy them properly when I do.

Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?
Yes I feel confident. But then, I'm a confident cook so I am happy cooking most things from scratch. grin

Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.
Ignore the official advice. Read around the topic for yorself. Make your own decisions. Ask yourself why there has been such an epidemic in obesity since "low fat" became the mantra.

Like others on here, I generally try to keep to moderation in all things. Occasional cake and biscuits, chocolate at the weekends - boys get given tons at Christmas and Easter and we dole it out in small amounts!

The only thing I always end up wondering about is all the conflicting information about saturated/unsaturated fats, whether olive oil is really better for you than butter, etc etc.

ShatnersBassoon Mon 31-Mar-14 11:34:47

- When it comes to 'healthy eating' are there any things that you feel particularly confused about? If so, what are they? Why are they confusing?
I don't find it confusing. It's mainly common sense.
- Is providing your family with a healthy and balanced diet something that you feel confident about? If so why, if not, why not?
Yes, I feel confident. I enjoy cooking and have lots of time to do so.
- Please share your experiences on how you go about sourcing the right nutritional advice on providing a healthy diet for you and your family.
It's information I've gathered over my lifetime. We have no dietary limitations which makes providing a balanced diet very easy.

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