This post has been written by the talented and very knowledgeable Ali Morpeth, Nutrition Coach and mum to 3 kids under 5. Very grateful to Ali for taking time out of her very busy schedule to write this blog for us.
I am regularly contacted by parents who are unsure about what is a ‘healthy’ way to feed their families. It’s no wonder – if you google healthy eating you get met with 849,000 opinions! This week is the UK’s Nutrition and Hydration week, so as the spotlight is on food, I’ve put together some top nutrition tips for parents
3 top tips for bringing up healthy kids:
If your kids are ‘fussy eaters’ don’t worry. Fussiness is normal! Did you know children are born to like sweet things and dislike bitter tastes? In the times of cavemen, sweet foods were generally safe, and bitter things poisonous. Liking sweet foods was essential to the survival of our species. It’s not abnormal if your children want to eat chocolate cake but not broccoli.
If your children are fussy about foods, evidence shows the best approach is not to pressure your them into eating things they dislike. Perhaps consider continuing to serve broccoli, or whichever food they have an issue with, to make it a normal part of the plate. If they choose to eat it, great. If not, no worries. Wait till next time. Serve the broccoli again, see what happens.
A varied diet is a nutritious diet. Lots of colourful fruit and veg – eating the rainbow – creates a healthy gut and immune system. Many families get stuck in a ‘rut’ cooking the same things over again because they know their kids will eat them.
To add more variety, how about asking your kids to walk down the supermarket aisle and pick 3 vegetables to bring home to cook? Or set up a tick chart in your kitchen – get your kids to put a tick on the chart for every new item of food they eat throughout the week! See if you can get them to eat 30 foods. Nailed that? Try 40!
Don’t let this add stress. Variety doesn’t have to be about perfection – you might run out of kale! Just keep the big picture in mind and think of quick ways to get more variety into your family diet e.g; adding side salads, nuts, seeds etc.
Eat like your great-grandmother
Our supermarkets and social media feeds are full of confusing messages about ‘healthy food’ If you are unsure about whether something is ‘good’ for your children, ask yourself: would my great grandmother recognise this as food?
We have gone through a huge nutrition transition over the last 100 years – moving from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to a diet rich in fats, meat, processed foods and salt. It hasn’t done us any good at all.
So, if you think a food item would have been recognised by your great grandmother, the food is probably going to give your kids some end health benefit. If they wouldn’t have a clue what it was…well….the food is probably not going to contribute to wellness, although it may taste really nice. It’s fine to eat these foods too, just make it some of the time rather than part of your regular meals.
For example, if you are weighing up crunchy nut flakes against porridge oats in the supermarket aisle – there’s a clear winner there. My great-granny certainly never kept crunchy nut flakes in her kitchen larder, but she probably did have oats. Picking the oats is a great move towards a healthy and nutritious diet for your kids.
I am a certified Nutrition Coach and hold a Masters in Public Health.
I spent 15 years working on nutrition policy and public health programming for global food manufacturers and UN institutions like Nestle, Unilever and UNICEF before I decided I wanted to work with clients 1-1 to improve their health. I give nutrition support to individuals and families from my consultation room in Ilkley, West Yorkshire and via Skype.
Contact me for a free 15 min discovery call and find out how I can help your family lead your healthiest life: 0779 2266578
Find out more about me via my website alimorpeth.com