How to encourage your kids to eat more whole foods
Jess from Energetic Mama is our guest today sharing some very helpful information about whole foods, what they are and simple ways to encourage our kids to eat more of them! I am an affiliate for Jess’ course but as usual, only recommend products I truly believe in. She is a fountain of information as you will see from the following post.
As a busy mum it’s hard enough to find your way through the maze of ‘food advice’ out there. There are experts all over the place telling you all kinds of conflicting advice. You may have wondered:
- Should we go Paleo? It seams to be the done thing these days!
- Is dairy good for my kids? Or is it contributing to their eczema, tummy aches and snotty noses?
- Maybe we should eat less meat! Doesn’t meat cause cancer?
- What about gluten? Maybe we should try cutting it out!
Let’s just stop right there for a minute.
Rather than get caught up in cutting things out of our diet let’s look at the big picture.
As a naturopath who has worked with hundreds of families to improve their health I believe one of the most ‘health boosting’ changes a family can make is to include more whole foods in their diet.
So what are whole foods anyway?
- Whole foods are foods that are natural
- Whole foods are packed with nutrition
- Whole foods are health boosting for our families
- Whole foods are foods that come straight from a plant or animal with minimal processing
- Whole foods include foods like vegetables, salads, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, meats, yoghurt, whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa
OK so whole foods are good for us!
But it’s one thing to make the decision to add more whole foods into your families diet yet another thing entirely to get your kids on board the ‘healthier eating’ train. Kid’s generally don’t like change and can be stubborn little things when it comes to the foods they eat. Here’s how to encourage your kids to eat more whole foods.
Stock a whole food kitchen
Kids will eat what is available to them, so if the kitchen is stocked with white bread, packets of biscuits, chips, shapes and sweet stuff then that is what they will eat. On the other hand, if there is an array of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other whole foods on hand their food choices will change.
If your kids are used to having lots of convenience foods at their disposal there is likely to be some “there’s nothing to eat” complaints to deal with as you transition to a whole food kitchen so you will need to spend some time helping them to figure out what a whole food snack looks like. Soon they will be coming up with their own smoothie creations, spreading slices of apple with nut butter or munching on a carrot with some delicious dip.
Be a whole food role model
It’s scary but true! Kids do what we do, not what we say.
Telling them they need to eat their veggies just sets off boundary pushing and resistance but over time SHOWING them that you will happily eat your veggies will set them up for a lifetime of veggie munching!
I once had a mum bring her daughter to my naturopathic clinic concerned that she wasn’t eating breakfast. The mum had tried to tempt her with all kinds of healthy breakfast options – homemade granola, smoothies, scrambled eggs, paleo pancakes but the child refused all of them. We started talking about the family morning routine. Dad left early for work so wasn’t around in the morning and mum was left with 3 kids to get ready for school as well as getting herself ready for work. Like many of us, mornings were crazy and mum rushed around getting everything organised while she plonked breakfast on the table for the kids. Mum was too busy so skipped breakfast all together.
We came up with some ways mum could make some time to sit down and eat breakfast with the kids and before long the little girl started eating breakfast too. Don’t underestimate the influence your actions and food habits have on your children. You don’t have to be perfect but know they are watching and picking up on your habits.
Eat one meal together as a family
These days it is rare that the whole family is together every night to eat dinner together. Parents work late, kids have sport practice and it is difficult to organise a time that everyone can eat together.
What I see happen commonly though is mum or dad are working late so the kids eat early and the parents will eat later. This often means the kids are eating something kid friendly like plain pasta, pizza, fish fingers or chicken nuggets. These common kiddie foods are highly processed and nutrient poor so our kids are getting full tummies but they aren’t getting the nutrition their growing bodies need.
I encourage at least one parent to sit down with the kids to eat a family meal. Kids should start to eat what the family is eating from a young age. Eating family meals together helps to broaden a child’s food horizons while feeding them kiddie foods just makes them fussy and picky.
Another mum I worked with was overwhelmed and exhausted so we were looking at ways to ‘lighten the load’. One of the more stressful times of the day for her was dinner time. Her two kids were extremely fussy so to avoid conflict she would ask them what they wanted for dinner every night and was making 3 separate meals to suit everyone. I don’t know about you but for me creating one meal every night is enough to deal with, let alone three!
She had noticed her kids getting fussier and fussier over the years but just thought she had fussy kids. I explained to her that asking them what they wanted for dinner every night was the cause of them becoming fussier and encouraged her to start making one meal for the family. It didn’t take too long for her kids to eat with more variety.
When it comes to our kids eating habits we need to have firm and loving boundaries. As with most things parenting, taking the easy route to avoid conflict in the short term (haven’t we all been there) usually leads to bigger problems in the long term. Be gentle on yourself and your kids, take things slowly and make the journey to whole foods a fun one.
Want to know more about the how’s, why’s and what’s of Wholefoods for your kids? Join me in my free webinar on Tuesday 12th June – Wholefoods for kids! A realistic approach to boost your kids health. I will be sharing
- WHY wholefoods are so important for your kids!
- WHAT wholefoods are best for kids and
- HOW to encourage your kids to eat more wholefoods!
Jessica Donovan is a mama of 2, Naturopath and holistic health expert who helps families thrive. She is passionate about educating parents on nourishing their children with real food, helping to boost their health and heal naturally. Jessica combines her naturopathic knowledge with a realistic, empathetic, inspiring and down to earth approach to empower women to look after themselves and take charge of the well-being of their families.
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