"You might think it's healthy but it is actually harming your children."

It seems like a simple and easy meal idea, but have we been kidding ourselves?

There is a concerning trend that has nutritionists worried.

A dinner table battle that is being clearly won by the under-fives.

The kids are in control at the dinner table Mums, and the latest weapon in their arsenal is the smoothie.

We all got one for Christmas, didn’t we? The latest innovation allowing us to blast our way to liquid goodness.

While we are finding it a godsend for ourselves, when it comes to our kids we need to think again.

We all got one for Christmas

It might seem like a healthy, convenient option for your little ones. The ingredients sure tick all the boxes, and if the advertising is to be believed not only will your kid’s skin glow and their hair thicken, but they will be full of energy and live an extra ten years as well.

But it seems that many of us are taking the smoothie trend to an extreme and using them as a meal replacement for our children rather than a treat.

A browse around any Facebook mother’s group or Pintrest page these days will reveal post after post about fussy eaters and the one solution many mums are coming to is this:

“Look at Jack inhale his green smoothie at dinner time. He simply won’t eat the lasagna the rest of the fam is having so instead I bullet him up an almond milk, kale, strawberry and banana smoothie. With a bit of ice he thinks he is having ice-cream for dinner.”

“Sophie’s tea today: Dairy-free peach, carrot smoothie. Just delic.”

“It’s soooo hot instead of bothering with cooking spag bol I have taken to giving the boys this for dinner: apple, spinach, ice, soymilk and chia seeds. They just love it. And soooo much easier and quicker to clean up”.

Parents replacing their children’s meals with smoothies with a misguided notion that they are healthy and a genuine sense of relief that the kids will actually drink it and the dinnertime battle will be avoided.

It looks healthy.. it tastes healthy...

For Nutritionist Susie Burrell, it’s another way that children are pulling rank on their parents, and it's one that could prove problematic.

She says that time and time again she sees parents change the family food environment for their children, children are choosing what they will or won’t eat.

“Our jobs as parents is to teach our children. Eating dinner at a table as a family is important for so many reasons.”

Susie says that the number one predictor of fussy eating behaviour is a parent preparing a separate meal for a child.


“Changing meals teaches children that they are in charge,” she says.

And while she acknowledges that green smoothies have plenty of nutrients in them they should never replace meals. “Smoothies look healthy but having a smoothie is not dinner.”

Kids naturally want the sweet option and if a veggie shake sweetened with fructose is served up in a cup then who would say no?

What is worrying is that the makers of the blenders and recipe books don’t seem to see the inherent problem with drinking instead of eating.

One website I came across even suggests that you “activate those salivary enzymes by 'chewing' your smoothie.”

Why not just eat food?

Another concerning trend is an emerging number of parents who feed their children diet shakes, or drinks made from protein powders.

Susie says that there can be nutritional implications with such forms of liquid diets. “The micro nutrients in diet shakes are at adult levels and not appropriate for children.”

“As soon as parents are replacing a normal meal, that is a concern.”

A smoothie is not dinner.

The irony is that most parents feeding green smoothies or protein shakes to their children are simply trying to do the right thing by their families.

Susie says we are over-parenting and overfeeding our kids. “Overwhelmed parents, working parents, exhausted parents, they are just trying to do their best.”

She says to hold the smoothies off for treats and concentrate on real foods – those that require your teeth.

What do you find is the best way to tackle your fussy eaters?

Want more? Try:

11 Tips for coping with fussy eaters.

My kids aren't fussy eaters they eat what they are given or not at all. 

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