Confessions of a food fanatic …
Mackay, circa 2012, my husband took on a 4 week on, 1 week off, fly in, fly out (FIFO) roster. For those lucky enough to have no idea what this means - basically my husband would work away for 4 weeks at a time. Having read countless books on clean eating and the paleo ‘lifestyle’, I decided to pour my husband-pining into the utmost control over the food consumed in our household. Our diets were squeaky clean and we felt incredible! Well, I did at any rate - and I assumed the same for my children.
It was time to attend the first of the kids’ friend’s birthday parties. Eeeek! Sugar, salt and hydrogenated fat was abound - processed was food in every direction! My children, never having experienced a wonderland such as this, parked themselves at the food table for the entire afternoon and consumed at least double what any of the other guests ate.
After I brushed off the self-aberration and shame, I learnt a valuable lesson from this event: strict abstinence from junk in the world my children live in wasn’t the key to a balanced lifestyle. I wasn’t doing my kids any favours by making every single decision about what they put in their mouths. Instead, I needed to become a guide for my children, to help them in their food choices. Now, they are offered an array of cuisines and foods, both at home and in other social environments. I teach them the importance of whole foods and encourage them to only infrequently consume the ‘less-than-nutritious’ foods (aka junk).
Children are notorious for being challenging when it comes to encouraging them to eat for health and mine are no exception. We’ve used the flying aeroplane trick (also boats, helicopters and race cars) with fairly consistent success rates. Another of my favourites is to pack a tonne of green veggies into a Bolognese sauce. I would sincerely love to provide every parent with a magic wand that would have their children begging for a bowlful of spinach at every meal, but Amazon has just sold out!
But why not try collaboration and participation? Involving my kids in the planning and preparation of daily meals has made them more likely to eat food that resembles ‘real meals’ without too much fuss. Allowing them to chop, mix and stir (with supervision for the littlies) helps them become far more enthusiastic about the cut, chew and swallow! I let them grate the zucchini and ask them to set the table in their own style. If I don’t have enough time to involve them in the preparation, I allow them to arrange the meals on the plate. When I let them own it, they feel proud… and usually hungry!
Embrace the family meal and cherish it … it is possibly the only time you have everyone’s full attention.
Of course, these suggestions are only a starting point and you have probably developed a great little toolkit of your own - so if you would like to add a few of your tips to the discussion please click here to join the FB group.
If you’re tearing your hair out and would like to know what the rules are in my house are laid out in this week’s downloadable, if you'd like to get your copy - drop me an email!