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Let's try some small steps towards a more balanced diet


peppers2peaches.ie deliver amazing fruit baskets

peppers2peaches.ie deliver amazing fruit baskets

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peppers2peaches.ie deliver amazing fruit baskets

WE'VE all been there. I have to confess, it's only a few days since I yielded to pester power and visited a fast food chain for a quick meal with my daughter.

After a busy morning, I'd fully intended going home to rustle up something quick and nutritious before the afternoon activities commenced, but passing by the golden arches of a well-known restaurant, the tempting smell, childish entreaties and my own empty stomach made it a quick surrender.

So the best I could do was strike a deal that 'yes, you can have a Happy Meal, but you have to take milk as the drink with that'.

Happily, that was an acceptable offer and we both tucked in, with me kidding myself we'd done enough walking that day to justify the treat. Looking at the nutritional details prominently displayed in-store, I calculated that the child's option she tucked in to was actually okay in terms of calories and salt, though it was missing out on the fruit and vegetable front.

And having won on the milk, there was little chance of persuading her to opt for carrot sticks instead of fries, particularly as I couldn't resist the chips myself.

Parenthood and life seems to be full of trade-offs between aspirations to be super-healthy and the reality of busy lives, constant temptation and our own appetites for the less-than-perfect choices.

But it does help when at least restaurants make the nutritional options clear and give you enough information to select the least-bad options. Unfortunately, some chains still bury this information away on websites, or make you seek it out in restaurants, instead of putting it upfront where you can get it easily without seeming like a fanatic.

Which is important when it comes to something like salt - as our survey shows, this is often present at high levels in things like pizza and where we don't particularly expect it.

And worse, some big chains still don't offer any nutritional information despite the huge consumer interest in knowing what's going into their own and their children's food.

Which is why I'd be all for government measures to require calorie counting in restaurants - though personally I'd prefer to see it made mandatory only for larger chains with more than four branches, but extended to include fuller details such as sugar, salt and fat content.

The longer I've been a parent and the more I've looked at nutrition issues, the more I'm convinced that it's only by nudging our own daily choices towards healthier habits - and getting the food industry including restaurants to offer them - that we can succeed in having a (mostly) balanced diet.

As a mother that means planning ahead - having a ready supply of easy-to-eat fruit, some meals cooked in advance to heat up quickly - and not passing McDonald's when we're both starving!

Irish Independent