Under-pressure mums tell lies about serving junk food to children
PRESSURE to feed children healthy food has created a generation of "little white lie" mothers who, according to a new survey, fabricate stories about their youngsters' diet in order to save face with their family.
Three out of four mothers admit regularly lying, sometimes even to their husband or partner, about what they dish up to children to avoid criticism.
However, nearly as many are simply confused about what is healthy and what is junk food, with seven out of ten dismissing fish fingers as unhealthy.
Ironically, the person a woman is most likely to lie to is her own mother, probably to avoid having an argument, as 93 per cent of those quizzed said they did so to take the stress out of modern-day parenting.
The survey, for the British Potato Council, found that social pressure created by campaigns such as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's to banish junk food from children's dinner plates was provoking mothers to lie about what they dish up.
The most commonly told fib is is to claim that children are not allowed chips or fried food. This is most likely to be told by a woman to her own mother. The second biggest food lie is for a mother to tell her friends and family that her children eat mostly fresh food at home.
Other lies include suggesting children are allowed chocolate only at weekends, that they are never allowed frozen food, or that they get their five-a day-portions of fresh fruit and vegetables. Some even claim their children prefer healthy food to junk food, which most parents would raise an eyebrow at.
Natalie Savona, a nutritionist and author of the book Wonderfoods for Kids, said: "When it comes to healthy eating and children, there is a lot of guilt attached to what parents feed them. I've no doubt some people would rather admit to killing their mother-in-law than feeding their kids junk food.
"The secret is balance and being honest with yourself about what you can achieve. The odd bit of junk food will do no harm as long as it's combined with a diet that is rich in fresh food and vegetables."
Jacqui Lowdon, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, added: "The fact mums tell fibs about the food they make for their kids is a sad reflection of the often needless pressure parents are put under.
"Some people have neither the resources nor the time to put a freshly cooked, hot meal on their children's plates every evening. As long as they sensibly combine food - for example, fish fingers with mashed potato and a portion of veg - they won't go far wrong for their children."
However, the mothers who cannot kick the habit of lying about what they feed their children may soon get their comeuppance at the hands of their own offspring.
The survey found that 58 per cent of mothers admitted their children now challenge them over claims that individual foods are good for them - a sign that youngsters are learning fast about healthy eating issues.
A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "Everyone has a part to play in encouraging children to eat more healthily and become more active.
"Our ongoing healthy-living campaign is designed to encourage everyone, including parents, to... see healthy eating and physical activity as aspirational, desirable and achievable.
"The Choose Change, Choose Healthy Living advertising, part of the healthy-living campaign, has been created to motivate individuals to take on the challenge of living more healthily."
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