With all the changing information on nutrition, it’s no wonder parent’s heads are spinning. We all love our children and ultimately want them to grow up strong and healthy. But how do we do that?
In my lifetime alone (I’ll admit I am showing my age a bit here), I’ve known the food triangle, which turned upside down into a food pyramid. It was low fat, then low carb, then superfoods and eventually just straight kale and quinoa sandwiches. Now it’s the healthy food plate.
What’s a parent to do?
In moments like these, I go back to basics with what my Mum taught me: You can’t go wrong with a rainbow of colour on your plate. She encouraged me to try just a little bit of every food. I raised my sons the same way, and you can imagine my surprise when my four-year old requested ‘Alaskan King Crab Legs’ for his 5thbirthday dinner.
‘But I’ve got a picky eater at home’, I hear you moan in the background. Not to worry. No, I mean it: Don’t worry. Force feeding children never worked and they all seem to eat everything once they are hungry enough. The best thing you can do is to avoid the power plays over food and simply set a good example. Tear into that Caesar Salad with gusto and let them hear you say ‘Yum! This is so delicious’ like you mean it. Here is some expert advice from our friends at the Royal Children’s Hospital: https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/nutrition-fitness/common-concerns/fussy-eating
And let’s not forget that meal times are wonderful social occasions. We can’t hold a phone when we have a knife and fork in our hand. Relax and check in with each other. Enjoy the eye contact and make eating an enjoyable family experience.
In a nutshell (pardon the pun and apologies if you’re allergic), lead with the pleasure that comes with food – all the colour and flavour – and some precious time together!