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One of the most pressing problems that literally all parents will encounter at one point or another is that of getting the appropriate amount of the appropriate foods into their kids at the appropriate time. Left to their own devices my two would literally eat only cake and Haribo Starmix – the odd stick of cucumber if I really insisted on it – and I see it as the most important part of my job that I don’t let them grow into one of those adults who turn up on page 16 of The Sun proclaiming they’ve spent their lives only eating margarita pizzas and oven chips.
It’s not easy, though. Life with kids is hard enough as is without the added pressure of being some Annabel Karmel/Nigella Lawson hybrid. And despite the fact I quite like spending time in the kitchen I’m definitely guilty of falling into the comforting trap of repeating our favourite easy meals: spag bol, chicken burgers, casserole, repeat until snoozing.
Any chance to improve my family’s diet without much effort on my part sounds blissful, so when the healthy eating aficionados from Fish Is The Dish offered to hook me up with their nutritionist, Juliette Kellow, I was all SIGN ME UP, let’s eat some fish!
I’ve always been a fish lover but somewhere in the last few years my taste for it has somewhat fallen along the wayside. For some reason I don’t cook with it as much as I had previously and don’t order it in restaurants. So I was really excited to chat to Juliette and find out how I could introduce fish back into mine (and the kids’) diets in a way that would be tasty, would improve our health and – most importantly – wouldn’t take loads of time or effort.
Juliette explained some fishy basics to me before we got cracking on my personal food plan. Adults and children the same age as mine should be eating at least two portions of fish a week, with the same common sense being used around raw fish and shellfish that you would in an adult’s diet (i.e. be aware that it might make you poorly if not handled correctly – click here for guidelines on seafood safety).
Keeping your kitchen stocked full of nutritional basics – wholegrain bread, brown rice, jacket potatoes and fruit and veg – will help you all follow healthy eating guidelines, and a balanced diet is is really important part of a child’s growth, which continues until they’re around 16 or 17. The nutrients in fish are vital for brain and cognitive function and development, as well as giving immune systems a boost and supplementing calcium stores.
I was absolutely thrilled to hear that we were doing quite well on the nutrition front, though we weren’t getting anywhere near our ideal fish quota. With my whole family almost hitting their 5 a day fruit and veg target we were encouraged to eat at least two fish-based meals weekly, with each cooked portion hitting 140g. It was also suggested I think about tinned fish to simplify reaching this target, as well as increase the amount of eggs and wholegrains we eat, so pick wholegrain toast and wholewheat pasta over white for example.
And how did we get on?
We ate an increased amount of fish for a month, and in all truthfulness I really feel it has changed our wellbeing for the better. Some of my markers of bad health are weak nails, bad skin and increased hair loss, and all these things have markedly improved in the month we carried out the experiment.
Eating more fish has been a catalyst for us eating slightly healthier, too. Fish is a lot lighter than meat and I’ve found the meals we now have leave us feeling full without being uncomfortably bloated, hitting our quotas of 5 a day the whole time. I order more fish in restaurants – I’ve discovered a new love for lobster tails – and it’s meant I enjoy a larger range of foods than I was before. All-round it’s been a completely positive change for the three of us, with even hesitant Hux deigning to try new things that he would have otherwise turned his nose up at.
Stay tuned this week for a couple more fishy tales from me: our favourite family fish recipes (designed to make everyone) happy, a mega-easy Asian Fish Dish that I have at least once a week for lunch and the ultimate Homemade Fish Fingers.
Huge thanks to Fish is the Dish for working with MTT (and making us healthier!)