Yep it’s been a while since I posted – I’ve literally gone back to this post a million times and in amongst a seriously torturous Anatomy and Physiology subject, a trip interstate, 14 weeks of morning sickness (yep, there’s another little one on the way!) and the emergence of the very stubborn and independent personality of our almost 2 year old, I just couldn’t find the time to get it out. And I’d love to say it won’t happen again but…well…we’ll see how we go.
I have however been giving the blog a lot of thinking time. I don’t intend to make this blog about parenting, rather I aim for it to be more of a discussion on nutrition and good food. But because I am studying nutritional medicine and have a child, nutrition and parenting are a natural focus for me. So every now and then, I think I might begin to share a few things we have learned about encouraging our child to eat food that we think counts. Everything we have learnt/tried/failed with/succeeded with has been due to overheard discussions in a playground, or chats with family or friends, or read in books, searched on the internet or just through dogged persistence. And if you’re as interested in getting your kids (or yourself for that matter!) to eat well as we are ours, then perhaps one or two things shared here might give you some help too.
In addition to a tiny bit of food-related parenting stuff, I would also like to begin to bring in some of the things I am learning about nutrition (only briefly, as I am sure not everyone is as interested in this stuff as I am). All of this will largely be in the same format as previous posts just with a few extra bits of stuff thrown in here and there. As usual I’ll continue to share recipes that we have developed for our family that I believe are really nourishing and have been tasty to our toddler’s little palate (most of the time). And for those that read the blog for the food only I’ll put the recipe first so you don’t have to wade through the parenting stuff! Let me know what you think.
It has surprised me to learn that many of us don’t get the recommended servings of Vitamin E (an immune boosting anti-oxidant). Sunflower seeds are natural Vitamin E powerhouses (check them out here , here and here for the nutrition nerds and for other recipes, look here and here). Pop a tablespoon of them in a smoothie and you’re getting close to half your daily Vitamin E needs. I find smoothies one of the easiest ways to ensure kids get a few servings of fruit, veges and plant protein. They are quick and I can make double or triple and we can feed the whole family. We make them fresh, for the longer you leave them, the quicker they lose nutrient value.
Serves: one big one and a little one
1 x small knob of ginger, peeled and chopped (leave it out if it’s too much for the little ones)
2 x kiwifruit, peeled
1 x pear
3/4 – 1 cup spinach or silverbeet, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbs hemp seeds, hulled
4-5 ice cubes
1/2 – 1 tsp raw honey (optional)
Blend or process all ingredients until smooth. Consume immediately.
And as far as the getting kids to eat stuff bit goes….
I’m not an expert in child psychology nor in child nutrition (although one day I hope to be closer to the second one) so these comments are not meant to be taken as advice, rather just a discussion about things that (usually) work for us. Our beliefs and approaches to Raffaella’s eating are largely a summation of experience and tips we have been given along the way so I believe it’s only fair to pass some of it on!
Well, for us it can best be described as a work in progress. It is made more challenging sometimes by the philosophical choices that we make regarding her diet and the fact that she is a toddler…enough said. Raffi and I remain vegetarian however we try and give her fish twice a week. Dario eats meat occasionally but not in front of Raff. This may change in the future…who knows. In my belief the most important thing, as always, has been to meet all nutritional requirements of her growing body effectively through whole foods, healthy fats and a low to no processed sugar intake. I believe this is the healthiest diet she can possibly have and nothing so far has swayed my opinion on this.
At this stage we don’t give her any processed sugars or takeaway food (although I will buy the occasional organic toddler food sachets if I’m desperate). I give her the occasional home baked good (now sometimes with cocoa/cacao in it) and we now give her honey, agave and coconut sugar in small quantities. Avoiding commercial sweets and icecream gets harder all the time but it is really important to us.
Some things that have helped to encourage her to eat well so far have been:
1. Eating food together, as a family, when possible. Matching up schedules (when Raff heads to bed at 7pm) doesn’t work for dinner time but we try to eat lunch and breakfast together most days. Modelling good food eating works wonders.
2. We try not to overwhelm her with food. For some reason a big plate of food seems daunting to her and she can reject it without giving it a go. We give small portions and add more as she goes.
3. We try hard not to focusing on the food. Ever said to a toddler ‘How about you try some of the broccoli’ and have them not even touch it? Once she knows it’s something we place emphasis on, the more likely she is to not give it a go. It can be hard but it often works.
4. We try our best to give her a plate with several options – i.e. I may have made some brown rice cooked in stock with sweet potato and squash but while I cooked the rice I steamed one or two small florets of broccoli, cut up some fresh cucumber and a few small slices of cheese. It seems to takes the focus off one item (similar to the big plate concept I mentioned in point 2) and it lets her pick and choose, giving her autonomy over her meal and how it’s eaten. Rarely does she not try a little bit of everything.
5. Encouraging Raff to be involved in food preparation is extremely successful and rewarding for all of us. I bring it to her level and we regularly do (clean!) floor cooking. Sometimes this happens.
But it’s worth every spill.
And keep trying, if it’s important enough, you’ll work it out together eventually!