Fish fingers? Yes please! Any other type of fish? Definitely not. It can be hard to get children to eat healthily, and it can be particularly difficult to help children eat fish. World Cancer Research Fund's Head of Health Information Sarah Toule wants to help – she's come up with four ways to get the kids hooked on fish.
1. Don't be pushy, but don’t give up! Young children are learning to assert themselves, and this involves making up their own minds about what they do – including what they eat.
Forcing fish on kids will only lead to more resistance, but don't forget that it can take at least ten attempts before kids will try something new, so keep fish on the menu, and set an example by enjoying it in front of your children.
2. Distract children from their fad by making fish fun. Cut meaty fish into chunks and grill them as lollipops on the end on sticks, adapt our healthy fishcake recipe into mini fishballs or let kids make up their own fish tacos.
Anything that can be dipped into sauces or handled with fingers seems to be more enticing for young children!
We should be eating fish at least twice a week, but our recent survey found that nearly two thirds of us are eating fish only once a week or less.
Even more worryingly, the survey found that those with children between the ages of 5-11 eat even less fish, with only 25 per cent in this group having fish twice a week or more.
Fish offers many important nutrients for children including protein (essential for building new tissue), vitamin D (vital for absorbing calcium and strengthening bones) and omega-3 fats (essential for healthy brain development).
3. Play it safe. Serving up your kids’ favourite types of food will make it easier to start adding fish into the mix.
Simply swap one ingredient for fish in the dishes they already enjoy, such as pasta dishes or sandwiches, or use fish as a pizza topping.
4. If all else fails, disguise it! It might mean some white lies are required, and it won’t help kids overcome their dislike for fish, but you will at least know they are reaping the health benefits.
You will only get away with doing this if you use a fish with a milder taste, such as haddock or cod. Using it in a flavoursome dish – such as curry, fried rice or a stir-fry – will help mask the taste. You might even get away with pretending it’s chicken!