Cleaning up the Childrens Diet
This is a photo of my two beautiful children. They are the stars of my life. While they eat mostly organic fresh produce,over the holidays I have become a little more complacent with their diets, as I am sure many parents can relate to. Now we are back into school life I want to refocus on what is going into their little mouths to fuel their growing bodies and minds. These are the spaces I want to clean up:
Stop the cereal from a box and the oh so yummy, classic Australian vegemite toast. Somehow these became the normal over the holiday instead of the now and then options for the kids but I certainly do NOT consider these the best way to start the day and I only want the best for them. What you eat at the beginning of the day often sets you up for how you are feeling for the rest of it!
Stop cheeky treats while out and about such as banana bread, ginger bread men, apple juices, icy poles or sorbets.
Family gatherings and birthday parties
Stop cupcakes, chocolates etc because they are "special occasions". They happen almost weekly and there are so many great healthy versions that the kids are just as happy with!!
School Lunch Boxes
Their snacks are always fresh fruit and vegetable sticks but I want to get creative with the staple part of their lunches and not fall back on the standard sandwich.
Protein for the "fussy eater"
My daughter will eat everything, lentils, chickpeas, hummus, every vegetable etc... my son has always been another story and has taught me many lessons. As they are both vegetarians I am always conscious of their protein intake. I want to step it up and change it up with him.
My key points to think of when implementing changes in a diet, such as the above are:
- Don't trick yourself with labels. Remember that just because foods are organic or dairy-free or gluten-free does not make them healthy or sugar-free!!! They are often a good step up but I think many people get caught in the trap of believing they are doing the right thing by their families or themselves because of these labels.
- Go cold turkey. I am also a big believer in all or nothing for a period of change while breaking habits. This does not work for everybody but for my husband and I it is the way to go. It is not forever but committing to completely cutting something out for 3-6 weeks while the cravings disappear and new behaviours are created is very effective, especially with children. When they get a consistent response to requests, they learn quickly that it is no longer an option.
- Education. We have explained to them what we are doing and why. The why is very important! Children absorb everything and teaching them to have a healthy understanding and relationship with food will set them up for respecting and nourishing themselves.
- Have a healthy substitute on hand. Today we went to a birthday party and they both asked for the cupcakes, the chocolate frogs and the gingerbread cookies that all the other children were eating. My answer was no to all. They got to then make organic bliss balls that were full of nuts, goji berries and coconut and loved them thoroughly and they got their dose of sweetness. It is always helpful to have an alternative option in these situations!
- Out of sight, out of mind. Don't have it in the house is another one of our rules. So out goes the organic corn flakes and gluten-free bread for a period.
- Dedicate time and energy to being creative. I want to make our daily yummy green smoothies more palatable for the children, I want to fill the porridge bowl up with all sorts of seeds and goodies, I want to have a perfect veggie patty and sausage option, I want to have 3-5 really healthy lunch options I can alternate that the kids will actually eat... and more. This will only happen if I spend the time to look up recipes, have the ingredients available, learn to make them and get the kids to try them. I need to schedule time in our always full week to doing this to make it happen. It can be a super fun activity with the kids and getting them involved often helps their desire to make the change too.
- Have everyone on board. Both parents are key to this happening. It is extremely helpful if children themselves, the grandparents, nannies and other people you spend lots of time with are also aware of what your are aiming to achieve and why.
I will share how we go and the new recipes over the coming weeks.
Below is every Naturopaths worse nightmare... but oh, when in Paris...these are the special occasions that are worth it!