Are you struggling to entice your child to eat right? Coming from Spain, many parents have intimate knowledge of the healthy Mediterranean diet – plenty of fruit and vegetables, oily fish, lean meats, nuts, seeds, quality olive oils, some dairy and wholegrains. However trying to navigate our children to the right foods can be a battle especially when we are all bombarded with processed, packaged foods. Just walk around any supermarket and you’ll notice all the highest sugar/high salt/processed foods are displayed at eye level for children to create maximum pester power.
Here are a few simple steps:
- Avoid all-day grazing and structure your children’s eating pattern to three meals a day with two quality snacks (eg one mid morning and one mid afternoon). Good snacks might include a handful of nuts or a matchbox size piece of cheese with a piece of chopped-up fruit. This means that when they sit down to eat a meal later they should be properly hungry.
- Start breakfast with a protein base eg a good-old fashioned egg is a perfect start. It will keep your child’s mood and energy levels steady throughout the day. Avoid starting the day with sugary breakfast cereals or pastries. Rather than juices which have a high concentration of natural sugar, cut up or slice a piece of fruit with breakfast. These strategies should avoid your child suffering sugar cravings later in the morning – unhelpful for weight control, energy levels or teeth. There’s lots of antioxidants and fibre in the pith of oranges, the skin on apples etc. Try seasonal fruits – English strawberries are around right now.
- Finally, if your child craves junk foods such as high-salt hydrogenised fat chicken nuggets, take small gradual steps towards familiarising them with quality home-made ones, cooked in olive oil which are more nutrient-dense.
For more tips on healthy food and tackling fussy eating in children, please join us Nutritional Therapists Marta Vazquez and Jeannette Hyde at 10.30am on Thursday 14 June in Fulham Broadway Methodist Church for a talk. Cost on the day £10.