TALKING KIDS NUTRITION AS A MUM AND A NUTRITIONIST
When I think about kids nutrition and talking to parents who have fussy eaters I think it’s always really important to remind ourselves that we are all unique. There is no one size fits all approach really. As adults we can make the choice of what we’re going to eat, we don’t necessarily like all foods either, nor want to eat the same thing day in day out. But with kids our role is to guide them and ultimately for a significant period of their lives we’re making those choices for them. So when food is rejected or they’re not into something we really feel it right?
One day with kids we might send them to school with a good looking lunchbox and it all gets eaten, you think ‘yes! nailing this parenting thing!’ but then the next they do the same and it comes home full and you’re punishing yourself with ‘what did i do wrong?!?!?!’
It happens to me with my six year old, Jet, and he’s generally a great eater. So I listen to what and why this is happening with his food and we have a chat about what we can do to make that lunchbox work for both of us so that it comes home mostly eaten. Because his focus and many other kids is to eat quickly and get out there and play.
Communication about food instead of making it a disciplinary factor is key…
So if it’s an avocado sandwich, a few pieces of cheese for lunch and at recess a piece of fruit and a yoghurt then at least I know he’s getting that in during school hours and I max out on the nutrition macro and micro nutirents out of school hours so I know I’ve done my job not only as a mum but as a nutritionist too. Our breakfasts and dinners and snacks out of school hours are always rich in nutrition.
+ Citrus Gelatin Gummies : great for digestive health and last in the lunchbox til morning tea – refined sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, full of the good stuff. Find the recipe here.
Here’s some key points to consider when next thinking through how to get through these formative years with kids and support their growth, development, brain, energy and nutrition for healthy little bodies:
+ Aim to reduce processed and refined foods ‘the culprits’ and reserve the times when kids are exposed to them as just ‘sometimes’ foods. If you let them have a little on occasion, they’re less likely to rebel against you.
+ Focus on the ‘can haves’ in your language for your kids and you and that positivity will flow well. The minute you say ‘can’t’ it’s like a rule is implemented and rules we all know are more fun when they’re broken.
Positivity first in EVERYTHING is a winner!
+ Be the role model for your kids in the way you eat and the way you speak to yourselves. My beautiful mum, raised my sisters and I on a really healthy diet, and whilst in teenage years I know I rebelled a bit to that in all sorts of damaging ways, the foundations and modelling she did for my sisters and I really laid some incredible values around food for life. Many of these I use now with my own family.
+ Ensure fibre and protein are front of mind. Don’t be afraid of serving up a chicken drumstick or a lamb chop for them to snack on after sport for instance and start training their minds to think that’s the good stuff they need to get in. To do this you need to be prepared. I get the time thing, really I do, it’s intense having children, working and trying to reserve something for you too, but a bit of weekly planning will honestly save you.
+ Make kids part of the cooking experience – get them in the kitchen and help them understand what and where food comes from. The problem with processed foods is that kids are not able to know where their food has originated from. With tiny people I always teach them little nuggets of nutrition in the form of the super powers in food and that seems to help – kids love play and animation and we can do that with them with food too.
+ Finally focus on their digestive health. The gut is the seat of our health and the more energy we put into establishing good gut flora and digestive maintenance the better off all of us are but when we lay these foundations early we set them up for life. With good digestive health we boost immunity and reduce those immune responses that come in the form of allergies, we now know how intricately linked gut and mental health is so when we focus on the gut we are setting up a strong relationship between the two and obviously we improve the absorption of nutrients in our food so we can thrive.