As parents, we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to provide the best home, education, experiences and nutrition for our children. I have found it fairly easy to gain knowledge about local schools, school holiday activities and sporting opportunities. But when it comes to nutrition, there is a wide range of conflicting information and it can become difficult to know just what your baby or child should be eating. There are a few simple tips I have picked up along the way that have made feeding my child easier and more enjoyable. I will give you my top 5 pointers (a recurring theme in my writing) to help ease a bit of the stress of mealtimes and to provide you the necessary groundwork so you can feel in control in the grocery store. I will also list references below that provide information on raw and paleo diets, an App that I found helpful and a reference to how to choose organic. As always, enjoy the read and email, text or call me if you have any questions or want further resources.
- Be an example. If you want your child to eat their veggies, they better see you putting them into your mouth as well. And they don’t have to be fancy PIntrest veggies. I mean, they can be because that is just awesome and cool and if that is what it takes to make yourself and your child eat them, then go for your life! The most important thing is to actually get them into your bodies, not to spend half your morning trying to julienne the carrots just right so they make the perfect bouquet on the plate. Make eating fun. Have a reward if you and your child eat just 3 bites of a new food 2-3 nights a week. It can be game night, movie night, staying up late or sleeping in a tent in the back yard.
- Keep the options interesting. Some people like the same thing over and over again. Most people don’t. When making a meal, include as many colours of the rainbow as possible. Sometimes just having cherry tomatoes and veggie sticks on the side can help fill out the rainbow. Try the veggies steamed, stir fried, baked, raw, stewed etc. Try it with butter, dip or dressing. Each way of cooking changes the flavour of the veggie and you and your child might like one way of preparation better than another. Variety is the spice of life. When you combine new foods into your diet, you are increasing the number of vitamins and minerals available to your brain and body making it easier to sleep, play and work.
- Have a plan. This can vary from a weekly menu that includes snacks and all meals to a couple set recipes with extra food for the easy to make and fave dishes. The more food you can have ready for after school/work, after sport, at lunch and when you are on-the-go, the better you and your child will eat. It won’t be long before you start to feel better from your dedication to your family’s new eating and the quick chocolate bar or bag of chips just won’t make you feel as satisfied.
- Be aware of sugar. Sugar is pervasive in all of our processed foods. Nobody needs cordial, pop/soda or fizzy drinks. Although you may feel refreshed after you drink it, you have made your body work hard to process that sugar and may have even created a situation where you are dehydrated. The sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade aren’t much better. They are quite high in sugar as well. If you want to provide your child with hydration and energy after school or around their sports, orange slices are an amazing way to do that. And I don’t know a child who doesn’t like putting the rind over their teeth and pretending they have braces or orange teeth. Water is the other obvious solution. Simple and available everywhere. Children especially should be having food, not cans of food like substances or food substitutes.
- Buy organic when you can. I often hear that because our soil is so depleted, we don’t get any more nutrients in organic food than conventional, so why spend the money? And I think if that statement is true, that is a valid question. But even if the organic farms don’t have a better balance of micronutrients to grow their food, or a more natural pH, a dedicated farmer that picks the food when ripe and at its most nutritious or a more sustainable farming practice, the food is still better for you simply because of what isn’t sprayed on it or absorbed into it. Research is showing the pesticides your grandparents ingested with their food is being passed down several generations and having effects on our generations as that accumulation increases. Some foods are sprayed more heavily than others and those should be bought organically. You can find the list of the Dirty Dozen on the Environmental Working Group’s website. It is startling to see strawberries at the top of the list knowing how our children love eating them. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php#.Woub36hubIU
Navigating the world of food can be confusing and overwhelming. Meals don’t have to be complicated or recipes long for a meal to be nutritious and delicious. If eating healthy is a new life skill for your family, start slow and introduce one new thing at a time. Remember this change is for the rest of your lives so a little bit each day adds up. You got this. You and your kids futures are worth it.