Young children should eat just one square of chocolate per week, according to the Irish Government’s new healthy eating guidelines.
The Department of Health launched its first-ever National Healthy Eating Guidelines on Thursday, which outline which foods children aged between one and four should avoid.
The guidelines advise parents with children in that age bracket to give their kids tiny portions of unhealthy foods, suggesting half a biscuit a week or three individual potato chips.
The new guidelines advise giving children three small meals a day in addition to two or three healthy snacks since children have “small tummies” at that age.
Any foods high in fat, sugar, or salt, should be limited to one “tiny” portion a week, the guidelines say.
The guidelines were launched by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman, and Minister for Public Health and Wellbeing Frank Feighan on Thursday.
The guidelines noted a difference between the dietary requirements young children aged one or two and those aged three or four.
For children aged between one and two, the Health Department is encouraging parents to feed them two servings of meat, fish, eggs, beans and nuts every day in addition to three servings of dairy. The Department also encourages between two to three servings of fruit and vegetables and three to four servings of cereal, rice, pasta, and potatoes every day.
For children aged between three and four, the Department encourages three to four servings of meat, fish, eggs, beans and nuts every day in addition to three servings of dairy. Children aged between three and four should also eat four to five servings of fruit and vegetables and three to four servings of cereal, rice, pasta, and potatoes every day.
The Department of Health is also encouraging parents to supplement their children with five micrograms of Vitamin D per day between October and March.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that the new guidelines would enable parents and childcare workers to provide young children with the correct nutrients, setting them up for a healthier life.
“We all want to give our children the very best start and helping them to establish a healthy relationship with food is something that will benefit them for their entire lives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said that the new guidelines would enhance children’s health in the future.
“The early establishment, and fostering of good nutritional habits in a nurturing, caring society, will provide an excellent foundation for the future health of our nation’s children.”