PJ Library teamed up with Laura Southern, founder of London Food Therapy, to talk healthy eating with kids. Here are her helpful, manageable tips to try!
1. Exposure. The more exposure children have to different foods then the less 'scary' they seem. Even if your child won't try them, offering a variety of different healthy foods throughout the day makes them seem normal, and eventually part of the diet.
2. Encourage 'good fats'. These can be found in olive oils, olives, nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut and oily fish and are essential for children's brains, growth, heart, skin and joints. Try and get a source in their diet at every meal. It could be seeds sprinkled on their cereal; suggesting hummus and olives as a snack; or making salmon for dinner.
3. Include more vegetable protein. Protein is essential for children - for growth, energy and hormones - but often we get stuck in a rut and it is chicken or beef at every meal. Vegetable protein from lentils, chickpeas, beans, legumes and soya can be less inflammatory than animal protein, is full of fibre and protects the planet. Try replacing mince beef in bolognaise for lentils or have falafels instead of chicken in a wrap. Aiming for one meal a day containing vegetable protein is a great place to start.
4. Variety is key. Many children (mine included) can be fussy with food, especially vegetables. It is the variety that is key, not the quantity. Far better for your child to have a few small bites of different nutritious foods, rather than a large amount of just one healthy food. This is because our 'microbiome' (the bacteria that reside in our gut) feeds on plant matter, and the wider variety they have, the happier they are. If they are supported, then that leads to a healthy body.
5. Eat a 'traffic light' of fruit and veg. We often talk about eating a rainbow - the different colours of fruit and veg all provide different nutrients and a variety is key to health. Some children can find this overwhelming, so just looking at traffic light colours: red (also purple and blue), yellow (also orange) and greens. Ideally we are aiming for two from each colour a day but don’t worry if that becomes too much of a headache to sort which leads on to my final tip….
6. Relax! It is easy as parents to worry about what our children are eating, or not eating. Remember it's normal for children to be picky with their food, often it is the only way they can exert control over their lives. Try and make mealtimes relaxing, don't show them you're stressed, but model good eating habits yourself. If they see you eating healthy food, then eventually they will start to eat it (even if it's not until they're grown-ups!)
Laura Southern is director of London Food Therapy offering nutritional therapy services in North London. She specialises in children's health and is passionate about encouraging kids to maximise their nutrient load. She is also mum to three boys aged between 10 years and - 18months. You can find more details or book an appointment on http://www.londonfoodtherapy.com
August 1, 2019