Getting kids to try new foods (from a Mum!) 

Everyone will have a different opinion on this but I recently read an article by Justine Lebrun on the I Quit Sugar website which you can find here.

Whilst I agree with many of the points raised, & like that she is a Mum so has experienced it first hand, every family situation is different.

For the last 2 1/2 years, the Father of my little people lived away from home 5 nights a week. Last year I was working 4 days a week, pregnant, managing a pretty big renovation & part of the time living with my parents. Not to mention having a newborn.

This year he is back in town, leaving home at 430am every morning & returning home somewhere between 6-7pm. With a crazy 7 year old, an even crazier 5 year old & a 3 month old who is still “witching” at dinner time, meals aren’t always the peaceful event you hope for. As a matter of fact, my 7 year old asked me tonight “why is it so quiet?” with the witching baby being jiggled in the Baby Bjorn while I attempted to cut / boil / cook dinner. It’s harder than you think.

Nevertheless, our method with me generally as a “single mum” with 3 kids is: the boys sit up on bar stools & eat their dinner. I generally pick at the vegetables I’ve presented them (that I know they won’t eat), modelling how much I loooooove cauliflower. At the same time I can stack the dishwasher, talk to the kids & keep moving so the baby doesn’t wake. We are a “no screen” household from Sunday evening til Friday afternoon every week, however this year my son in year 2 is going to have to make PowerPoint Presentations so some screen time will have to happen (nooooo!). Both boys also have some online Maths homework.

During the week, they are exhausted from school & I find that if I’m going to try a new meal, Saturday, Sunday or Monday is best. Tuesday-Thursday they are too tired to want to try new things. I’m guessing many families are similar.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – there aren’t too many adults who only eat crumbed fish & spaghetti bolognaise. If you’re going to crumb it, use a healthy crumb – my go to is either straight quinoa flakes; or a combination or quinoa flakes, sesame seeds, chia seeds & almond meal – depending on what we have in the pantry.

Make it fun & colourful. Cut the veggies in a different shape – try sweet potato in wedges one night & discs another; make carrot sticks into match sticks one night & noodles another. Cut long thin pieces of cucumber, or thin discs. Use a spiraliser. Make it different every night. Don’t make a fuss over what isn’t eaten.

Most importantly, be realistic with your expectations – I haven’t eaten meat in nearly 20 years but my sons like meat (currently). I don’t like pasta, they love it. I could eat salad & veggies all day, every day, whereas they feel slightly different! I do sneak veggies into their bolognaise (usually grated cauliflower & zucchini) but that’s more of a nutrient than a taste issue for me.
We agree as a family that sweet potato is the best veggie ever & that frozen bananas make the best smoothies. We all love my crumbed fish & cucumbers.
We all love whole fruit.
My 7 year old & I share a mayonnaise addiction whereas the others don’t see the fuss. It’s the same throughout life- we all know someone who hates coriander right? How about anchovies? I love both but there was a time where neither were on the Menu for me.

 

 

 

 

 

How do we make Australia healthier?

I look at my experiences differently as a Health Coach. Take last weekend as an example – 5 couples went away on a planned getaway. We booked out an expensive house, indulgent but lovely. I wasn’t drinking as I hit 25 weeks of pregnancy but everyone else enjoyed quite a few drinks. We all enjoyed food in excess – home made gnocchi & pizza, multiple cheese platters, bacon (not for me), eggs, avocado, haloumi, nuts, even a bit of chocolate. In everyone’s defence, this was a special weekend & all admitted they would “suffer for the cause” after!

There was a lot of giggling, swearing (which doesn’t happen at home) & plenty of really fascinating conversations. Having beautiful friends who are a Pediatric Doctor, a lawyer, & a Personal Trainer, I of course opened the floodgates with discussions of obesity, prevention, labelling of foods, obstacles to weight loss in lower-socio economic areas (such as not being safe to walk to school, lack of playgrounds, being unable to afford sports equipment). Then there is the next baffling obstacle: government. I am not a political person, you will not see me protesting or wearing a t-shirt of my preferred political party.

It is incomprehensible to me that as an Australian taxpayer, millions of dollars are spent every year on “fixing” obese patients, yet the Government is not subsidising the factor that contributes to 70% of the problem: diet.

Why aren’t fruit & vegetables subsidised rather than junk food?
Why isn’t more money being spent on pregnant women – educating them how to feed themselves & their future offspring? Rather than “healthy eating guidelines”, a more beneficial guide would be some sample meals.

I firmly believe Government also need to be regulating food packaging more. The words “natural”, “healthy” & “sugar-free” mean nothing. I read the ingredients of every product I buy, especially for my children (yes, I’m that person in the supermarket who agonisingly picks up a packet, reads the ingredients then shakes her head & mutters about how disappointing it is).
Even better, minimise processed foods that contain ingredients – whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains (where you can phsyically SEE the grain- eg brown rice, buckwheat), & if you choose to eat them organic eggs, & organic meat.
The health star system is incredibly flawed & misleading to someone uneducated who is making the effort to try for healthier choices. First area it is flawed is by basing the rating on kilojoules. How backward!

It’s interesting how going back to my parents house now, I’ve been telling them (they don’t get a choice!), that they need to implement a few swaps – like:

  • buying organic peanut butter (instead of Aldi or Kraft brand which contains sugar & vegetable oil), & checking there’s nothing added.
  • buying organic eggs (instead of free-range)
  • Checking the ingredients on bread as the cheap ones tend to contain sugar.
  • I buy organic apples & carrots, where Mum is happy with conventional.

Interestingly, my sons also consume more gluten, milk & high-fructose fruits while at my parents.

Last weekend my sons had a sleepover (where they stayed will not be mentioned!) – my 5 year old came home hyperactive & excited to tell me they had Domino’s pizza, “lots” of apple juice & sweet, processed biscuits. He then proceeded to have the worst diarrhoea he’s had in years. I feel strongly that no household should have processed juice, or flavoured milk more than a handful of times a year. Never would be better. How about modelling to children the right way to eat & setting them up for life? 

As a parent, has your mindset changed on future proofing health?