I have been a qualified nutritional therapist since 2004 and I have helped many parents with their children’s nutrition. In that time, I have had three children and been able to put my expertise into first hand practice! Here are a few top tips to share with you:
Firstly, take a step back and really think about the routines, ritual and rules, if any, that you have around food and meal times. When I work with children, I am actually really working with the family and we will often have long conversations around the following questions:
Are meal times and structure important to you?
Are you happy for your children to help themselves to food at any time?
Do your children have a choice in what they eat?
Do you eat with, and eat the same food as your children?
Are you happy to cook different meals for different members of the family?
Do they help with meal preparation?
Are you happy for your children to eat in front of screens/television?
If there are things you want to change, it can be useful to make these changes first.
The next step is to choose one dietary change. This is where working with a registered nutritional therapist can be very helpful as they can identify that one thing that is going to give the most benefit and be realistic for YOUR FAMILY.
A good place to start is weekend breakfasts. Commercial breakfast cereals are highly processed and often contain large amounts of sugar. Mix in or swap for a good quality muesli (avoid the crunchy mueslis – these are also very high in sugar), experiment with porridge with different toppings or have a fruit/yoghurt style breakfast with added nuts and seeds. Include savoury breakfasts: scrambled eggs on toast.
Have a good look at the amount of sugar your children are eating. Foods marketed as ‘healthy’ such as fruit juices, smoothies, compotes, fruity yoghurts and muesli bars often contain large amounts of sugar. Biscuits, cakes, sweets and fizzy drinks creep in and can easily become a habit rather than a one-off.
Eating too much sugar can cause energy peaks and subsequent troughs which make us feel tired, irritable and hungry again. If your child is constantly hungry, feels tired during the day, lacks concentration and gets headaches this is an area worth looking into. High sugar diets can disrupt the microbes in our digestive tracts which are linked to immunity.
- Encourage water as a drink from an early age and dilute fruit juice ½ ½ with water.
- To limit the sugar ‘hit,’ mix smoothies and compotes with yoghurt and have them as a pudding rather than as a drink or snack on their own.
- Add fresh (or frozen) fruit to plain natural yoghurt instead of buying pre-made fruit yoghurts.
Children’s nutrition = nutrition for the whole family. Unless your child has a specific health concern it is useful to make changes that will benefit everyone AND be easy for the person planning, preparing and cooking the food.
Finally, it’s not about nutritional perfection but about finding the things that are going to bring about an overall improvement in a practical, stress free and tasty way!
Please don’t hesitate to get it touch if you would like to talk about how I can help your family make positive nutritional changes. www.lucykellynutrition.co.uk @lucykellynutrition
Article written by Lucy Kelly BSc (Hons), DIP ION, MBANT, CNHC Registered