Wholefood, Superfood, Organic, Bone broth, Gluten-free, Raw, Paleo and fermented have become mainstream terms but even just a few years ago you probably had not even heard of them.
You may have started your babies on highly processed rice cereal as their first food, then moved onto the tinned baby food blends that line the supermarket shelves.
As they became demanding toddlers you may have got sucked into the kiddies food – squeezy yoghurts, frozen chicken nuggets, fish fingers and shape crackers.
Now they are school aged, with peer pressure and influences coming from all angles it’s hard to change their diets.
YOU may have learnt a lot about nutrition and whole foods over the last few years but getting your kids on board is another story.
Hindsight is an unhelpful friend! It’s obvious now that the earlier you start your kids on whole foods the better but what if they are accustomed to a diet full of processed, sugary foods? Where do you even start to make the switch to a whole food diet for your kids?
Make changes slowly
Kids generally resist change, especially if the change isn’t their idea! Gradually making changes to their diets is the best approach for most kids. So rather than changing their much-loved breakfast cereal to a homemade paleo granola, simply add some nutritious raw nuts and seeds to their regular breakfast cereal. If that goes down ok the next week you might try a half-half mix of their favourite breakfast cereal and nuts and seeds.
Stop making multiple dishes to suit everyone
I am always surprised at how many mums I work with make multiple dinners every night so everyone in the family is happy. My ‘this is what we are having for dinner approach’ can put a stop to all of that unnecessary work. This approach also helps to broaden your kid’s tastes and encourages them to have a more varied diet.
I am not recommending that you force your children to eat things they don’t like. Simply cook one meal at dinner time and serve it up. Ignore any ‘yuck’ or ‘I’m not eating that’ comments, sit down as a family, turn the T.V. off and encourage everyone to try it. Let them know this is dinner and there is nothing else tonight. Once they get used to this approach most kids will start to try new foods and dinner time becomes much less hectic.
Focus on adding the good stuff in
There may be a lot of foods your kids enjoy that you would rather they didn’t eat but rather than cutting out the things they enjoy, focus first on adding more whole foods into their diet. This will improve their nutrition and make their journey towards a whole food diet a more pleasant one.
- Try adding some cucumber sticks or a bliss ball to their morning snack container.
- Add a few leaves of baby spinach to their cheese sandwich and some carrot sticks alongside it .
- Add some fresh fruit and natural yoghurt to their cereal bowl or top their morning toast with scrambled eggs.
- Make a nutritious smoothie for after school snack.
- Add a heap of veggies to your bolognese sauce or some grilled fish alongside their chips.
Let them know that these foods make them stronger, faster or smarter – whatever motivates them. At the same time, you will naturally be reducing the processed or nutrient depleted foods they are used to eating.
If they like the bliss ball you can stop buying the packet snacks that are usually in their morning snack container. You might start packing them ½ a cheese sandwich with a heap of veggie sticks alongside it.
Slowly but surely you will be replacing processed foods with whole foods.
Get them involved
If kids have been involved in the creation of food, whether it was planting herb seedlings and taking care of them, picking out the vegetables at the market, chopping, mixing, cooking or serving the meal they will be more interested in eating it. No matter what age they are you can get them involved in the kitchen
Challenge them to plan and/or cook a family meal using only foods that come straight from a plant or animal.
Take them food shopping with you and ask them to choose 3 vegetables and 3 fruits they would like to eat that week. You could then look up some new recipes to include them in.
Help them look up a healthy snack recipe they would like to try. Shop together for the ingredients, help them follow the recipe to make it.
Take them fishing or fruit picking or even to a local farmers market to get them connected to where food comes from. At home, you could plant a few herbs or leafy greens together, water them every day and reap the rewards fairly quickly.