The Secret to Healthy Kids

The Secret to Healthy Kids

The Secret to Healthy Kids All Parents Should Know

+ How to empower kids to make healthy decisions printout

 

Imagine baking bread, but, you forget to add the flour?

It would be a bit of a flop.

Flour is the ingredient that is the crux of a tasty loaf of bread.

And there is a secret, no one talks about that is the crux of having a healthy, thriving kid. 

Do you want to know what it is?

The one thing above all else to concentrate on as a parent that would help your child be the healthiest they can be?

Take care of their Gut (and teach your child to take care of their Gut).

Your child’s gut is where 80% of their immune system lies (1). It is where hormones are made (2), it is where the outside world meets their inside world.

Without a healthy gut, you cannot have a healthy child.

 

In this blog, you will get an introduction to:

  1. Why Digestive Health Matters in Kids
  2. How your kid’s Microbiome affects their health
  3. How to empower your kids to make healthy choices 
  4. What foods Nourishes their gut and kid-friendly ways to get them into your child. 

AND a FREE HANDOUT is included… so keep reading. 

 

Why Digestive Health Matters in Kids

Gut. Aka, Microbiome, Microbiota, Digestive System or Colon. While all of these words have their own specific definition, for ease I will use these words to refer to the part of the large intestine where loads of bacteria are housed.

Your child’s microbiota is located at the end of their digestive system, in their large colon.

The microbiome refers to the millions of bacteria that live inside the digestive system.

We, as humans, have more bacteria cells in us than we do human cells.

Lots more.

Look at your hand… If your hand represented how many bacteria and human cells you have in your body combined, the area of your pinky is human, and the rest of your hand is bacteria.

If I compared you to me,  99.9% of our genetic material is exactly the same… but our microbiome is probably 99.9% different.

Our differences, the difference between a constantly sick child and a thriving child has more to do what is in ones microbiome than a genetic difference.

 

Ok, I know what your thinking…

Isn’t bacteria bad?

That’s why we sterilise all our baby toys, why we wash our hands with antibacterial soap and why we take antibiotics when we are sick…

It was once thought we were doing good by living in a bacteria-free world… but time for an upgrade in our thinking…

Not all bacteria are bad… you would be very sick if you didn’t have any bacteria.

Your child needs bacteria not only to thrive but to survive.

Learning to take care of these bacteria located in the Gut will help your child be the healthiest they can be.

I like to think of them as a pet that lives inside me. In our house, we call them ‘gutties’. I have taught my kids that they need to take care of their gutties if they want to stay healthy – below I’ll show you how to do the same for your kids.

 

How Micbotiotia an Affect Your Kids Health

Our understanding of how these little guys affect us is growing daily. What we know,  as of today is;

Gutties are involved in:

  • Gut maturation
  • Education of the immune system
  • Protection against harmful virus and bacteria
  • Influencing brain activity
  • Affecting metabolism
  • Absorption of vitamins and minerals

What this means for your growing child is that their microbiome (Gut) can influence:

  • Your child’s life-long health
  • Your child’s risk of food allergies and autoimmune disease
  • How often they get sick
  • Your child’s risk of developing obesity, heart disease & cancer later in life
  • Your child’s behaviour
  • Your child’s cognitive development (IQ)
  • Your child’s energy levels

This list will keep getting longer with more research.

So, if you want to have thriving, healthy kids…

Then the way to those healthy kids is through their Gut. Teaching your kids to take care of their gutties is a gift that keeps giving.

 

How to Empower Kids to Make Healthy Choices

To help kids understand something it is easier for them if they can ‘see’ it.

Below is how to explain microbiome (or ‘gutties’ as we call them in our house) to kids.

Explain the below to your kids, then, during dinner concentrate on how feeding gutties with food ‘tastes amazing.’  These two strategies are magical ingredients when empowering kids to make healthy choices for themselves.

(Please excuse my drawings, it’s a skill I am working on!)

Below is a printable version… Feel free to print it out and if you want to share it on your social media feel free… the more parents explaining this to kids, the more empowered generation we will have.

Note: The whole point of explaining this to kids is so that you put the idea in their heads that when they eat they are not only eating for themselves, but for their ‘pet’… their “gutties”. 

Get FREE Printouts of the list of foods that are good for gutties AND  kid-friendly ideas to serve it.

FYI 

The best way to look after ‘gutties’ is with diet.

It only takes 24 hours of eating a better diet for your child’s microbiome to change.

So read the list below and start making plans of how you can get foods good for gutties into your kid’s diet…

And remember, changing diet is not an overnight process… small sustained changes over time makes huge gains.

Is your Child in their first 1,000 days?

During your child first 1,000 days their gut is maturing. The more you can do to feed their gutties either through breastmilk or feeding their gutties when you introduce solids and beyond, the better they will be off when they grow up.

Sign up to my FIRST foods free email course if your in the introducing foods stage.

Also as a life-style hint, let you baby play in sand and dirt, adpot a dog. A little dirt is perfect for your child’s developing gut.

What Food Nourishes Gutties?

When it comes to encouraging people to change their diet, I am a big fan of ‘adding in’ rather than taking out.

So, concentrate on the three general food groups that nourish gutties. By eating more of these foods, you will crowd out the other foods that do not nourish gutties.

The three groups are Soluble fibre, Pre-biotics Foods and Probiotic foods.

Want a quick way to help gutties flourish?

If it gets too overwhelming of what specific foods to eat… then the quick way is to think unrefined plant base diversity (aka as many different plants as possible) – we often count how many unrefined plant-based foods we have eaten in a day. It has been a great way for my kids to ‘try’ the new food on their plates. 

Foods High in Soluble Fibre

Some of the top soluble fibre foods include raw oats, lentils, beans, avocados, kumara (sweet potato), broccoli, pears, pumpkin, spinach, carrots and apples, broccoli, pears, flaxseed and sunflower.

 

Soluble Fibre Foods for Kids?

To add more fibre to your family’s diet, try Bircher muesli made with kefir for breakfast. Or when you do you next Lasagne or Chili, swap ½ the mince for lentils — snack on carrots with hummus or fruit instead of crackers & muesli bars. Small changes can make a big difference.

You can also use smoothies to your advantage, make the base either kefir or coconut water and add in greenish banana and or berries to help make it palatable for your kids then put some spinach and ground flaxseeds. It’s a fun way to feed their gutties while feeding themselves while eating a diversity of plant-based foods.

 

Foods High in Prebiotics 

Prebiotic foods feed your microbiome.  It’s like putting fertilizer on a plant. These foods will help your microbiota to thrive.  Foods high in prebiotics include garlic, onions, leek, green banana’s, apple, seaweed,  sweet potato, asparagus, almonds, cinnamon and turmeric.

 

Pre-biotic foods for Kids?

To add more of these to your family’s diet try blending onions or leeks into your next meal – kids sometimes can take a bit to enjoy the texture of onions, so blend them up instead. The more they have meals with onion and garlic blended in, the more your kids will be exposed to this food and therefore the more likely they will willingly to accept onions not blended down the track.

For lunch, you can make some rice balls that they can wrap with the small packets of seaweed. The cooked and cooled rice and seaweed is a double whammy of goodness for your little one’s gutties.

 

Note: make sure the seaweed is made with olive oil and not canola or sunflower oil.

Foods High in Probiotics

Probiotic foods are foods that contain live bacteria. These bacteria will enhance your child’s microbiome. Foods that are fermented, cultured or Lacto-fermented all have live bacteria. Specific foods include fermented vegetables, cultured dairy and some Japanese favourites.

 

Probiotic Foods for Kids?

Cultured (fermented) vegetables:

Any vegetables… Sauerkraut, fermented kumara & kimchi are a few that can be made kid-friendly.

If I had a magic wand that granted every parent the ability to make one recipe, do you know what that recipe would be?

Sauerkraut.

This recipe is the kid-friendly version that after a bit of training their taste buds, your kids will love eating. Sauerkraut is the one constant in my kid’s lunch box; they love teaching their class-mates and teachers about sauerkraut.

For more ideas of how to introduce Fermented Foods to kids check out this guest blog.

Fermented Dairy:

Kefir and natural yoghurts. You can buy both of these at the supermarket – make sure they are not loaded with sugars or sweeteners – even better is if they have been cultured rather than yoghurt with live cultures added in at the end.

If in doubt, go for the natural, no added sugar/sweetener varieties.

Smoothies are great ways to get this probiotic into your kid’s diet – for a simple recipe blend 1 cup of kefir with ½ banana, add in a pinch of cinnamon or a dash of vanilla and you have an easy banana milkshake kids will love.  (if the bananas are green then this will add a good dose of prebiotics as well!)

 

Japanese Favourites:

Miso and natto, two popular foods.

Are you getting sushi for lunch? Order a miso soup to go with it. Natto is more of an acquired taste, but with some taste, training is an excellent way to start the day.

Get FREE Printouts of the list of foods that are good for gutties AND  kid-friendly ideas to serve it.

Taking care of gutties and feeding you kids foods that nourish their gutties will be of massive benefit for your kids, both for now but also their life-long health.

So get on it today… I love the saying 

Either easy now, hard later on or a challenge now and easier later on.

 

Overview of The Secret to Healthy Kids

Gut health is the crux of health, like flour, is the crux of bread.

If you want to have a healthy child but it seems like there are 101 things you could be doing… Stop.

Just do one thing…

Concentrate on feeding your kids gutties with soluble fibre rich foods as well as pre and probiotic-rich foods. If you teach them that they have a pet inside them called gutties that will help them flourish, even better.

Feeling overwhelmed?

Pick on thing to do, get ingredients to have a smoothie as a snack this week, try Bircher muesli, throw away the cracker and chips as snacks and replace it with fruit or even start experimenting with your family “vegetable sides” at dinner times.

Just do one thing until that is your family’s new normal and build from there.

If you’re overwhelmed because you cannot remember what specific foods are good for gutties… Just think plant-based foods that are unrefined: vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains AND think as many varieties as possible… so start again with one meal or one food which you d0n’t normally cook and go from there. 

 

So, if you want healthy kids?

Think

Feed yourself, Feed your Gutties.  And teach them to feed their gutties while you’re at it.

What food or recipe will you introduce to your kids today or tomorrow?

Wal

 

The Secret to Healthy Kids

+ How to empower kids to make healthy decisions printout

 

7 Reasons your child refuses to eat anything

7 Reasons your child refuses to eat anything

Is Your Toddler Refusing to Eat?

7 Reasons your child refuses to eat anything

Susie came to me when her child refused to eat anything.

James had been a good eater as a baby. Eating lots of variety of home-made baby foods, from pumpkin puree to liver puree.

Then it all changed.

He knew what he wanted to eat and no matter how much persuasion on Susie’s part, James would keep his lips seal shut.

Susie was frustrated, deflated and tired of wasting time serving James good food.

Sound familiar?

All the best plans can go out the window when babies grow into toddlers with a mind of their own.

The picky eater stage, although can be a stage can last for a lot longer than needed if it’s not addressed.

The first part of addressing when your child refuses to eat is identifying if there is an underlying cause to your picky toddler.

Why is my Toddler refusing to Eat?

The Underlying causes

Toddlers can refuse to eat for a variety of reasons.

If your toddler was eating yesterday but is not today, then they may be coming down with a sickness. Concentrate on keeping your little one hydrated and if they are still not eating in a day or so, see a doctor.

 

If your toddler is eating, but nothing that you consider healthy then there may be a few reasons behind their refusal.

1. Strong-willed Child

Imagine having an adult child who stood up to the bully, who was driven and didn’t take no for an answer, who changed the world…

How proud would you be as a parent?

The qualities we can for our children to have as adults are also the very qualities that frustrate the heck out of us as parents.

Imagine what it would be like to be told, what to wear, where to go, when to go to sleep, when to go to the toilet and what to eat.

That is a child’s world.

And the strong-willed toddlers of this world will rally against that in anyway they can. What food passes their lips is one way they can try control their world.

Start with the expectation that your child will eat but let go of the outcome.

Involve your strong-willed child into meal times. Provide them with boundaries but give them a choice. Cook with them. Garden with them. Let them choose the vegetables at the supermarket.

Work with their strong-will rather than fighting against it.

 

2. Slow digestion (Gastroparesis)

Does your child prefer smaller meals? Maybe even liquid meals such as smoothies.

Does your toddler refuse foods that are higher fat or higher fibre foods?

If you answered yes to two of the above questions, your child may have a slower digestion rate. Meaning the food takes longer to travel through your little one’s digestive system. This can be super uncomfortable for your little one, so no wonder they are refusing to eat.

There are a number of things you can do to help your toddler through this from providing small, softer meals to having their main meal earlier on in the day (so it doesn’t affect their sleep). If you want a personalised plan then make sure you check out my Picky Eater Reboot one on one – We can get really specific to help your toddler get the best nutrition while making it easier on their digestive system.

Want to raise an Adventurous Eaters?

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    3. Hypersensitive or Sensory Toddlers

    Does your child struggle with some textures? Possibly gagging at first bite or even sight?

    A toddler who is picky because they’re sensory will also have other cues in their life such as being annoyed at the seams in their socks and particular about what type of clothes they wear.

    It requires work to help your hypersensitive toddler to eat healthily. But it can be done. Taste and texture can be changed to suit your toddler with the aim of gradually introducing different textures.

    Slowly and gradually is the way forward here, with the aim of desensitizing your child to the textures they find troublesome.

    After having a sensory toddler myself I have developed a few tricks to changing foods textures and mitigating strong tastes. Learn more with the Picky Eater Reboot.

    4. Oral Development

    Did you baby have a tongue tie?

    Did your child skip the put-everything-in-the-mouth stage?

    Was your toddler eating puree foods as most of the past 10 months of age?

    When your toddler was a baby, did they have lots of baby-food pouches?

    A baby first learns to suck, then swallow, then they learn to chew.

    Skip any one of these steps and when your toddler tries to move foods like a chicken around in their mouth, they will find it difficult. So the food is spat out or gagged on.

    If this sounds like your child then you will want to start exercising your toddler’s mouth muscles by using a straw to drink of out (get rid of the sippy cup if your toddler still has one), humming, using a vibrating toothbrush or blowing bubbles. Here are some more fun exercises from this blog.

     

    5. Childhood nutritional deficiencies

    Is your child tired all the time?

    Do they have a poor appetite or do they have brittle hair, nails (often with white spots or ridged)?

    Nutritional deficiencies could be the cause of your child refusing to eat. This is a difficult one to get around because they have a low appetite they will not want to eat much – so the things they do eat need to be of high quality. But that can be easier said than done in toddlers.

    So what to do? 

    The first thing is to make each meal they have as high quality as possible… if your toddler is eating oatmeal at breakfast, mix some ground flaxseed or pumpkin seeds into it. Try Smoothies but add in extra nutrients such as a pre-biotic powder, ground seeds or even a little spinach. If this is not working for you and your child see a doctor or nutritionist about getting a multi-vitamin to boost them in the meantime while working on boosting their nutrition via whole-foods.

    If this is your child, be mindful that the more typical ‘child-food’ is not a good source of nutrients… so even though they will be getting more food… it is not going to help them gain more energy.

    6. Toddlers Gut Health

    Has you’re child recently had antibiotics and now refuses to eat?

    Did or does your toddler suffer from eczema?

    Does your toddler only like bland foods?

    If so, your toddler’s gut microbiome may be the reason they refuse to eat anything.

    Your toddler’s gut microbiome was seeded at birth and there is a number of things that can impact if from antibiotics to their diet.

    Changes in your toddlers gut health can affect what they choose to eat. There are plenty of things you can do as a parent to help their gut health, from baking with gut-friendly ingredients like these healthy chocolate chip cookies, to training taste buds to eat fermented foods like sauerkraut to making sure their Vitamin D is optimal.

    Optimizing kids gut health is one of my passions in life. A bit geeky, I know. But the gift that a healthy gut offers a person is life-changing.

    7. Sweetened Taste Buds

    The more you have the more you want. Taste buds are trained. And if your toddler is mainly eating sweetened foods, that is not only what they will crave. And, your toddler will have desensitization to sweet food as well as a sensitive palate to sour and bitter foods.

    That broccoli will taste horrendously yuck to them.

    So if your toddler is refusing all things veggie and will only eat refined, sweeter foods – their taste buds need a reboot.

    There are lots of ways to train your kids taste-buds, but you will need to put in the effort.

    Changing up breakfast is a game-changer for some parents as to when we start the day on sweet foods, we will likely crave that food all day. So simply changing breakfast can set your toddler up for less sweet cravings during the day.

    Check out my Picky-Eater Reboot for more ways to train your kids taste-buds.

    The overview of Why your Toddler is refusing to eat

    The picky eater stage, although can be a stage can last for a lot longer than needed if it’s not addressed.  If your child is refusing to eat anything then check to see if they have any of these underlying reasons.

     

    1. The Strong-willed Child
    2. Slow digestion (gastroparesis)
    3. Hypersensitive or sensory child
    4. Oral development
    5. Nutritional deficiencies
    6. Gut Health
    7. Sweetened taste buds

    Then make a plan going forward. And little by little your picky eater will be eating trying new vegetables like sauerkraut and Sweet Potato before they are even asked to.

    Want to raise an Adventurous Eaters?

    Get 10 bite-sized easy to digest emails and discover the foundations to Adventurous Eaters.

      7 Reasons Your Child Refuses To Eat Anything

      How to get your Toddler to eat more Veggies

      How to get your Toddler to eat more Veggies

      How to Get Your Toddler to Eat More Veggies

      10 Simple ways to encourage a child to eat when they refuse

      Imagine your picky toddler eating all their veggies happily at dinger tonight.

      Imagine, your child devouring that healthy lunch box you lovingly prepared.

      It can seem like a fantasy wonderland.

      But it doesn’t have to be.

      Getting a child to eat veggies when they refuse is like the old pentene shampoo add….  “it won’t happen overnight… but it will happen”.

      How?

      It’s like trying to push start a car. The first few heaves can feel like you are getting no-where… but after putting in some effort?  You get that car moving and the effort involved to keep it moving along is a little push now and again.

      Getting toddlers to eat Broccoli requires some effort to start with. You may not feel like you are not getting anywhere.

      But the momentum will be building.

      And, soon…You will be surprised with your child’s open mind to trying new foods without much effort on your part.  Just like the car coasting down the road.

      To start that momentum, there are 10 simple ways to get toddler eating veggies.

      So, when your child refuses to eat anything, employ one or a few of them consistently, and eventually, your child will be a healthy, adventurous eater.

      Want to raise an Adventurous Eaters?

      Get 10 bite-sized easy to digest emails and discover the foundations to Adventurous Eaters.

       
      Start my free course

      10 Simple Strategies to Get Your Toddler To Eat Veggies

      1. The Blender is Your Friend

      Are you kids minds closed to eating anything new or healthy?

      Does it feel like they have pre-decided not to like Broccoli or another vegetable before they even try it?

      I remember my oldest daughter being like this. This is the reason I wrote the book Healthy Little Eaters – because I wanted my child to love eating healthy and at that moment of time the only healthy eating she did was when I forced her. Healthy Little Eaters was all the research put in one place that helped me give her a totally new direction.

      But that’s a long-term strategy. And, I am sure you want some quick wins.

      So, use your blender.

      Think about the foods your child is eating already. How could you blend some vegetables in there?

      For example: do they like Mac and Cheese?  If it is the white sauce they like, add in some cauliflower puree, if it is the more yellow cheese sauce they like, then add in some butternut squash or pumpkin puree. The trick is to keep the colour constant and then slowly add more and more of the same colour vegetable.

      Do your kids only eat baked beans or spaghetti?  Again, a little of cauliflower puree is a great or add in a vegetable sauce

      Blending vegetables will help to train their taste buds for different flavours without their mind getting in their way.

      I was surprised how quickly my children began eating cauliflower after adding in a dollop cauliflower puree in their French toast.

      Using a blender can also help you feel satisfied that your kids are receiving some nutrients – which will help you to reduce the pressure your kids may feel about finishing their vegetables. Backing pressure off on your kids is the biggest and hardest step you can make as a parent but is the step that brings the biggest rewards. Witnessing your kids getting some nutrients through the blended veggies will help put your mind at ease.

      Takeaway: Using a blending by pureeing the vegetables of similar colour to your child’s already accepted meals can increase their nutrient intake without them having to ‘try’ a new food. This will also train their taste buds without them noticing

      2. Use Foods Your Toddler Already Likes

      What foods do your kids already like?

      When you put a vegetable on the table ask yourself ‘is there a way I can make a link to a food that they already like?”

      For example, if you want to encourage them to eat avocado, if they like creamy yoghurt can you bring their attention to the smoothness and creaminess of the avocado when they try it?

      You can also do this with flavours.

      If your toddler likes garlic bread. Make garlicky cauliflower bites.  When you put it on the table tell them it tastes like garlic bread. If they bring it up to their mouths, casually ask if they can taste the garlic-bread.

      The goal is to get your toddler to think about something else rather than the uncertainty of the vegetable.

      Takeaway:  Drawing kids’ attention to something already familiar in the ‘new veggie can help your child to create a link to what is already familiar to them.

      3. Give your Toddler a Choice

      Do you have a strong-willed child?

      If you do, I’m guessing they will tell you what they want to eat and when they want to eat it no matter what you do.

      It can be frustrating.

      But, food, going toilet and going to sleep are the only things they can control. And they love control.

      So, give them some.

      Ask them what they would like to eat tonight by giving them three options.

      Or you can ask what vegetables they would like with dinner by giving them 3 options. Or when you are in the supermarket, ask them to pick a vegetable to eat with dinner.

      This way they feel like they have some control and when they sit down at dinner you can remind them that they are the ones that choose that option. I like to do it in a ‘thank-you’ way. “Thank you for choosing the Broccoli for tonight’s dinner”

      Takeaway:  Give your strong-willed child what they want. control: You provide the boundaries they get to choose.

      4. Play with Flavours

      Is your child sensitive to bitter foods?

      Some toddlers are more sensitive to bitter foods than others.  If you are nodding your head thinking “this is my child” then there are two things you want to do.

      • Read on to #7. Decreasing your child’s sugar intake will help do wonders for accepting bitter foods. The sweeter your kids’ diet is, the more bitter foods will seem to them.
      • Play with the flavours to help mask the bitter taste. Adding a bit of fat or a sharp taste like balsamic can help mask bitter foods such as broccoli.

      If that fails then sprinkle a little sugar or if your boiling that vegetables add sugar to the water… It is more important for kids to develop a positive association with vegetables than to worry about sugar. And, research showed that just three exposures to a sweetened vegetable helped those kids enjoy that vegetable later on. So, use their sweetener preference to your advantage.

      Takeaway: If your child is super sensitive to bitter foods then add a flavour such as fat or sweetness to the bitter vegetable when you introduce it.

      5. Play with Textures

      Do your toddlers almost gag on different textures?

      First, check that your toddler is chewing and making good jaw movements well first. If not, make jaw movements exercise a priority.  Suck on homemade ice-block or get them drinking out of a straw are a couple of ways to exercise their facial muscles.

      From there play with different textures of the food.

      Does your child prefer crispy textures? Then bread the cauliflower or broccoli and make it crispy.

      Write a list of your child’s favourite textures – pick a vegetable you want them to have more of and think of ways to add their preferred texture to that food.

      A personal win:  My 16month old is having a hard time with the texture of mince. We often will have Chili or chicken mince, so I really want him to like this texture. Recently we had Chili over a baked potato. One of the toppings I put out included natural yoghurt.

      He loved the texture of yoghurt, so I added in some small amounts of mince to spoonsful of yoghurt. Boom – for the first time he didn’t spit out the mince.

      If your kid loves the creamy smooth texture like yoghurt, then can you add this to your next meal to help them get used to another texture?

      Takeaway:  Build a new texture into the textures your kids already like. Little bit by little bit will help to get your kids liking other textures without a fight.

      6. Play Games

      Knowledge about food: from the sight, smell, texture and tastes is all learnt. Preference for food is all learnt.

      How do you make kids (or adults) happy to learn?

      Make it fun.

      When encouraging kids to eat healthy make the learning environment fun. Play games like ‘who can keep a straight face’ when introducing sour fermented foods such as my kids’ favourite sauerkraut help keep the mood light and fun.  The positive environment creates happy memories with healthy foods. Even if they don’t like it, they will be developing a positive association with veggies in general. So, you are winning.

      Turing trying new foods into an experiment:  Sign up for Adventuring Little Eaters email course and you will also get tasticaiton and foodication handouts from Healthy Little Eaters Free. This will help to make trying new foods and experimenting with different taste sensations in a playful way.

       
      Start my free course

      7. Sugars out

      Have you ever gone sugar-free for over a month, then eaten a bar of chocolate?

      After a month of sugar-free that bar of chocolate will seem out-of-this-world too sweet.

      If your child is having chocolate, candy, biscuits or something sweet every day, his or her taste buds will be set up to want sweeter tasting foods. When spinach, broccoli or another typically bitter food is eaten – the bitterness can then register as too powerful and then ‘yuck’ for your child’s taste buds.

      Of course, they are not going to like it.

      By decreasing sugar in your toddler’s diet, their taste buds will desensitise to the sweet taste, making accepting the bitter foods more likely, or, at least not overpoweringly yuck.

      Decreasing your toddler’s sugar intake is a long-term strategy. Start by making some sugar-free baking such as these Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies or cut the fizzy intake. You don’t need your kids to go sugar-free – Even small changes to help decrease the amount of sugar they are eating can help shift their taste buds to accept the more bitter foods.

      Takeaway:  Your kids’ reaction the more bitter foods maybe more because their taste buds are set up to only have sweet foods. Decreasing their sugar intake a little bit by aittle bit will help to make vegetables taste delicious to your toddler.

      8. Start with what Vegetable your Toddler already likes

      Eating a variety of vegetables and healthier foods rarely happen in one step. It can take progressive shifts to get there.

      What flavours and food do your kids like?

      Start with those foods and see if you can do a small step sideways.

      For example: Do your kids like potatoes? – get them to try kumara, but say they are “sweet potatoes”… ‘potatoes but sweeter’. Boom, you have created a link to the food they like already.

      You can do this for many dishes and build on each step: let’s go back to your toddler who likes potatoes. Start the progression by adding a little paprika to the dish. After a while draw attention to the paprika and tell them how paprika can help that cut, they have healed faster or have laser-like eyes (paprika is good for healing wounds and eye health). Then add in the next progression… try chilli or dhal and instead of speaking about the new dish, make a link to the paprika in the chilli or dhal.

      Making small progressive steps so you toddler is eventually eating the foods you eat is a process that can take some time, but is much less daunting for your toddler when trying to get them to eat healthier.

      Takeaway: Make progressive steps to new meals. Start with what flavour’s your kids like. Where can you make a sideways step to another food?  Gradual progress is still progress.

      9. Become a Story-teller

      Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” – Robert McKee, professor

      Storytelling is also a powerful way to put ideas into your toddler’s head. Use personal stories as a way to teach a positive association with healthy eating.

      I have often spoken to my kids about how I thought my mother was loopy when she went avocado crazy over summer. The thought of eating an avocado made my stomach churn. It wasn’t until I was an adult when I tried it. And I am glad I did. I finally didn’t let what I thought and avocado would taste like get in the way of trying it – and I found that I really loved it!  (now they see me put avocado on my salads, breast fast with eggs or make it into a dessert!)

      This is a story about how I let my thoughts of what an avocado would taste like get in the way of me enjoying it. All about me, but building a positive association in their heads as well as teaching them a growth mindset to healthy eating.

      I tell a story to my kids about how ice-cream makes my tummy feel yucky, but when I was little and I really wanted to like ice-cream because everyone else did.  I would love to mix it up with my spoon and let it melt rather than eat it. I didn’t understand what ice-cream did to my stomach until I was an adult and I learnt to check-in. But I am super glad I did as now I choose not to eat ice-cream because I know my stomach won’t feel good after eating it.

      This whole story revolves around checking-in and the story of how I have got empowerment over my food choices. Again positive and teaching them you can still learn to check-in, even as an adult.

      Takeaway: Stories put ideas into toddlers head. Ideas which are layered with unconscious healthy eating messages from checking-in to instilling a growth mindset to healthy eating.

      10. Make Vegetables Important to your Child

      Want some chicken feet?

      No?

      What about some delicacy that will help you boost your collagen to look younger?

      I bet you are willing to try delicacy that boosts collagen… because it means something to you. (that delicacy is chicken feet J )

      Plonking broccoli on a plate and saying eat it because it will make you healthy is abstract for your toddler. They don’t know what healthy is, let along why they should care about it.

      But if you said, broccoli helps you to go poos without it hurting, (if they are constipated) or broccoli will their heart grow stronger so you can run for longer, or simply broccoli will help you grow muscles like daddy or mummy. Whatever works for them but make it a concrete example. Something important to them.

      You can also change the vegetable name, instead of calling it broccoli, call them dinosaur trees – and knock them down with your dead and munch on them as a dinosaur would.

      Make vegetables important for your toddler either by the way it will make them feel afterwards or name it differently.

      Takeaway: Kids don’t know why eating vegetables is important. Give them a concrete reason to love those veggies.

      Simple Strategies to Encourage Toddlers to more Veggies Overview

       

      Toddlers eating vegetables happily can seem like a fantasy wonderland… But it doesn’t have to be.

      Just like push starting a car requires a bit of effort, getting your toddler to eat their broccoli also require effort. But, little by little they will take bites and before you know it your once non-eating vegetable toddler will be a child and teenager who eats whatever you make.

      It won’t happen over-night… but it will happen… if you start using these 10 strategies to help when your toddler refuses to eat.

       

      1. Blender is your friend
      2. Create links
      3. Give them a choice
      4. Play with flavour’s
      5. Play with textures
      6. Play games
      7. Decrease sugar intake
      8. Use Progression
      9. Tells stories
      When you have a toddler who refuses to eat anything you put on the table, employ a few of these strategies.

      Sometimes you will get quick wins and other times you will have to put in more effort.

      Make the whole goal to be your toddler ENJOYING meals times, ENJOYING tasting and trying new foods… they will eventually develop a positive association with eating healthily.

      This positive attitude they will take with them on their journey of life.

      So, start now

      Other Encouraging Healthy Eating for Toddler Blogs you may like

      7 Reasons Your Kids Refuse Vegetables

      Children typically go through a phase where they look at vegetables (or new food) with the same disgust as a pregnant person feels when someone drops a stinky one.

      But, just like my babies who didn’t sleep through the night –  it can last longer than it needs to…

      Is Baby Health Luck of the

      Even though a baby seems fully formed, their gut isn’t. It can take up until they are 3 years to have a fully functioning gut. How do you make sure their gut is in tip-top shape?  Learn more here.

      Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

      The Healthiest cookies you can bake. Kid-friendly, good for your gut while tasting lip-smackingly good.

      Recent Adventurous Little Eaters Blogs

      Baby Health Tips

      Baby Health Tips

      A Healthy Baby can seem like ‘luck of the draw’. But by taking care of an infant’s gut microbiome in their first 1,000 days you can raise a healthy baby and toddler who grow into healthy, thriving kids. These tips to a healthy baby will put your baby on a life-long health journey.

      How to Get Your Toddler to Eat More Veggies

      Growth Mindset For Kids in Healthy Eating

      Growth Mindset For Kids in Healthy Eating

      Growth Mindset for Kids in Healthy Eating

      Have you ever had the same experience as someone, yet when you heard them speak of it later, their perspective was totally different than yours?

      We are each unique, not by what we do or what we have… but because of our differing perspective.

      Diet is no different.

      How we see our diet and our perspective of diet is reflected in the choices we make.

      Imagine raising children that make healthy choices?

      The best way is to that is to teach them a healthy food mindset.

      What is a mindset?

      Let me tell you where I learnt it from.

       

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        Mindsets 

        Carol Dweck in her game-changing book Mindset: Changing the Way you Think to Fulfil your Potential, introduced the world to mindsets.

        A mindset is a way we see life. This is why you and I could experience the same thing,  yet interpret the event in a completely different way.

        Carol broadly identifies two ways to see learning (after all healthy eating is learning).

        A fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

        A fixed mindset is when we think the ability is static. You are born with it and there is nothing you can do about it.

        “Your view of yourself can determine everything. If you believe that your qualities are unchangeable — the fixed mindset — you will want to prove yourself correct over and over rather than learning from your mistake” – Carol Dweck

        A growth mindset is when the ability can be developed. Through learning and effort you know you can grow, despite where you start from.

        Changing our beliefs can have a powerful impact. The growth mindset creates a powerful passion for learning.

        “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”  Carol Dweck

        I bet, as a parent the light has just come on in your brain. How mindsets relate to your child’s schoolwork or how you praise your toddler with their artwork.

        In Carol’s book Mindset, she has a chapter dictated to parents that I think every parent would get a lot out of.

         How is related to the food you may ask?

        How to Grow a Healthy Food Growth Mindset for Kids

        Teach your kids a growth mindset with food and you will teach them a healthy eating mindset.

        A healthy eating mindset starts with you and your beliefs about food, your perception about healthy eating and healthy foods.

        Kids learn more from what we do, than what we say.

        It took me 5 years before I realized that if I wanted my children to have a healthy eating mindset, I couldn’t hide in the cupboards gorging on my go-to sugar hit one minute and then tell them no to a cookie the next.

        I had to stop hiding.

        I had to admit I was not where I wanted to be for my kids.

        Owning where I was today, so I could grow tomorrow, was my first step.

        Teaching kids a healthy eating mindset starts with you. In Healthy Little Eaters the first 1/3 of the book is about how changing your mindset will set the stage for helping your kids grow into healthy, adventurous eaters.

         

        Want to parent kids to have a healthy eating mindset?

        There are four mindsets that if you grow into yourself… the way you then parent will change drastically. This will help set your kids up to a healthy eating mindset (while changing some of your afflictions along the way)

        4  Healthy Eating Growth Mindsets for Kids

         

        1. Healthy Eating Mindset is Effort, not Perfection

        Is diet all or nothing to you? Either you’re being good, or, you’re being bad? You’re either eating healthy or, you’re not?

        Black and white thinking, such as being good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, is the seed of a fixed mindset.

        If you are to teach your kids to have a healthy eating mindset it starts with the mindset that healthy eating is not about being perfect.

        It’s about effort.

        Making an effort each day.

         

        Healthy Eating is about effort. It may come as bad news to you, but those families who you think to eat healthily – put in the effort. There will never be a time when everything will fall into place and you will magically get more time to prepare, plan or bake healthy foods. You have to make this a priority and make a little effort day by day.

        The good news is, that when you put effort into making small changes after a while those small changes just becomes what you do. Spending 2 hours on a Sunday preparing healthy snacks… doesn’t feel like effort anymore.

        The quickest way to changing your mindset from perfection to effort is to think: how can I be healtheIER today? Or how can I make my kids diet healthIER today?

         

        As a parent, the effort is not only for your kids but also for you (to lead by example).

        For you re YOU: If you want to be healthier, what change can you make that you are 90% sure you can do?

        For example: if you drink juice, fizzy drinks – can you half the amount that you drink. Start there. Is that an effort that you can see yourself achieving?

        Secondly, you need to congratulate yourself when you do. Congratulating yourself by comparing yourself to you yesterday, not comparing myself to someone else, grows confidence and love for that action.

        Remembering to congratulation yourself will empower you to keep making an effort.

        Try it yourself.

         

        For example re YOUR KIDS: If you have lots of packet foods as snacks. Could you half that by spending 2 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday baking or preparing homemade snacks?  What small change can you make to your kid’s diet that may be more effort for you, is helping them to be healthIER? 

        Takeaway: Healthy eating is not all or nothing. Changing your mindset of healthy eating from perfection, eating healthy… to effort, eating healthIER.

        2. Fixed Mindset is seeded from Labels

        The chicken or the egg, what comes first?

        He doesn’t like vegetables

        She won’t eat tomatoes.

        She’s not a good eater.

        He only likes white foods.

        Kids prefer lollies.

        Every kid loves ice-cream.

        When I was growing up, we occasionally had ice-cream as dessert.

        I remember, mixing it with my spoon for so long that it became a runny, melted mess. I did this for two reasons – 1. to separate the hokey pokey bits out of the ice-cream. 2. my stomach always churned when I had ice-cream, I didn’t feel good eating it.

        But I was meant to like ice-cream and it was not until I got into my teenage years that I felt strong enough to say no to ice-cream. Going against the grain of what people expected me to like.

        When we put labels on our kids, this seeps into the way they see themselves. Labels teach kids that what they are today is unchangeable. It is who they are.

        To teach kids to have a healthy eating mindset, it starts with you as the parents teaching them that what they like, or they don’t like today is changeable. We grow. We change.

        To do this use words like ‘learning to’, ‘growing into’ or ‘challenging’.

        For example:

        He is learning to like vegetables.

        She is challenging herself to taste a tomato.

        She is growing into a healthy eater.

        He is learning to like all sorts of foods.

        Comparing these phrases to the ones above and you will see they change from labelling a child who then unconsciously develops an identity about themselves, to teaching kids that their experience with food today will not be the same as it is tomorrow.

        They are growing, learning and sometimes need to challenge themselves to eat healthier. This will become their new unconsciousness around food.

        Word choice around foods helps to instil a growth mindset, (healthy eating mindset) or a fixed mindset. Choose your words wisely and don’t put your kids in a box by labelling them.

        Takeaway: Change your words – Change kids’ mindset – Change what they choose to eat

        3. Taste is Trained Not Found Out

        I grew up not liking tomatoes. I thought that I would never like tomatoes. When I was 21, my sister had been introduced to tomatoes on marmite toast by her flatmate. When I visited her, she won’t let me use her toilet until I had tried it.

        I loved it. So much so, I  got in trouble for eating their last tomato. laughing

        Taste is often thought of as something set in stone.

        Kids don’t like vegetables, they don’t like lentil curries, they don’t like tofu … If this was true, then how come kids raised in India like lentil curries? How come kids in japan love tofu?

        They like it because those kids are exposed to these foods more frequently than the kids who do not like it.

        If you want your kids to like vegetables from Brussel sprouts to tomatoes… then expose them to it.

        Train their taste.

        Below are 10 ways to train your kids to taste without bribing or using sweeter foods as a reward.

        If you want to learn more about training taste, keep an eye out for next weeks blog.

        Takeaway: If your child doesn’t like a particular food… Try, try, try again.

        4. Growing a Growth Mindset… Mistakes will be made.

        “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.” – Nikki Giovanni

        I used to think that if I made a mistake that made me less of a person. That I was bad in some way. The irony of that is I never learnt from my mistakes. I just felt guilty about the mistake I made.

        I unwittingly started to hand this mindset down to my children. When they overate sugar and went a little crazy, I would point it out like it was a bad thing. I am sure their interpretation was ‘I am bad’, or ‘eating ____ means I am being bad’.

        In reality, they had made a mistake. But I didn’t’ teach them how to respond to that mistake, except by making them feel guilty.

        Don’t make the mistakes I made. Or if you have… don’t feel guilty about it. Start to respond differently when your children make mistakes around food.

        How?

        When your child overeats either at a meal and they feel ‘stuffed’ or they overdo the sugar and they go a little crazy.

        When the storm has calmed.  (not in the moment of craziness – you will never get through)

        Sit with them and ask them about it.
        Encouraging them to make their own connections through your open-ended questions to what they ate and how they felt.

        This is what I refer to as Checking-in in Healthy Little Eaters.  Checking-in is a growth mindset that teaches kids to self-regulate through creating in-built mindfulness around food.

        Raising kids with an awareness of how food makes them feel, is a gift I wish every kis grows up with. This awareness starts with seeing mistakes, such as eating too much sugar, or overeating because they are distracted, as the path to food-awareness. Rather than something to berate.

         

        Takeaway: Use mistakes, such as overeating or unhealthy eating as the pathway to self-awareness around food.

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          Growing a Healthy Food Mindset in Children Overview

          A healthy food mindset is seeded in knowing healthy eating is

          • about effort, not perfection
          • not labelling kids as a bad eater or not liking vegetables
          • about taste buds in training
          • make the most of mistakes

          Raising a child who has a healthy food mindset starts with the messages that you give them.

          A healthy eating mindset starts with you and your beliefs about food, your perception about healthy eating and healthy foods.

          Developing a taste for healthy food and healthy food habits come about from a process. Something that requires a little effort each day.

          Instil a healthy eating mindset by teaching your kids a growth mindset to diet.

          Growing children to have a healthy food mindset will be their unconsciousness food setpoint that they will take with them on the path of life.

          Imagine what they can achieve, what they can add to the world if they are healthy, vibrant adults.

          Other Encouraging Healthy Eating for kids Blogs you may like

          7 Reasons Your Kids Refuse Vegetables

          Children typically go through a phase where they look at vegetables (or new food) with the same disgust as a pregnant person feels when someone drops a stinky one.

          But, just like my babies who didn’t sleep through the night –  it can last longer than it needs to…

          Is Baby Health Luck of the

          Even though a baby seems fully formed, their gut isn’t. It can take up until they are 3 years to have a fully functioning gut. How do you make sure their gut is in tip-top shape?  Learn more here.

          Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

          The Healthiest cookies you can bake. Kid-friendly, good for your gut while tasting lip-smackingly good.

          Recent Adventurous Eaters Blogs You May Like

          Baby Health Tips

          Baby Health Tips

          A Healthy Baby can seem like ‘luck of the draw’. But by taking care of an infant’s gut microbiome in their first 1,000 days you can raise a healthy baby and toddler who grow into healthy, thriving kids. These tips to a healthy baby will put your baby on a life-long health journey.

          Growth Mindset for Kids in Healthy Eating

          Child-friendly Winter-wellness Drinks

          Child-friendly Winter-wellness Drinks

          3 Child-friendly Winter-wellness Drinks

          Are your kids sick?

          Or, do you want to boost their immune system… so they don’t get those nasty bugs going around?

          These three Winter-wellness drinks are my go-to during the winter months.

          Boosting Vitamin C, giving their gut a kick or helping to keep hydrated – all needed during the winter months.

           

          Child-friendly wellness Orange Booster

          I grew up with my parents giving me lemonade when I was sick.

          A lasting tradition from when my great-great-grandmother would make her own.

          While lemonade now is low in nutritional value, we can expand our great-grandmother’s wisdom. Give your child’s vitamin C a boost with this Orange Booster in times of sickness.]

          Vitamin C is a key player in immune function

          Ingredients
          • Juice of 1 lemon
          • Juice of 2 Oranges
          • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
          • 1 tsp freshly grated turmeric (optional)
          • 1 Tbsp honey (omit the honey if your child is under one)
          Method

          Mix all ingredients and use as a concentrate.

          To dissolve the honey, either give a blast in the blender with all the other ingredients (this also helps the little bits of ginger and turmeric mix in better for younger kids) – or melt the honey in Luke warm water and add to other juices.

          To serve

          To serve this concentrate add to water, fizzy water or serve as a hot toddy.

          I use ¼ of Orange tonic to ¾ water, you may want a little more or a little less…

          Gut Lovin’ Smoothie

          Food for Toddlers during a cold

          Kids can be ‘off’ food during a cold. THis is not a bad thing. But, the first food back should be easy to digest and full of nourishment for their immune system.

          Your gut is where 80% of your immunity is. Look after your child’s gut with this smoothie and their immunity will get a boost to help tip the balance of their bacteria to the good guys and they will be back on their feet in no time.

          Ingredients
          • 1 cup unsweetened Kefir (use coconut water instead of Kefir during the snotty nose, lots of mucus colds)
          • ½ Banana
          • 1 handful of frozen blueberries
          • Few leaves of spinach
          • ½  tsp freshly grated ginger
          • 1 tsp Beet kaavas (optional) 
          • 1 sachet Liposphere Vitamin C (optional)

             

          Method

          Put all ingredient is the blender and blend until well combined. Serve.

           

           

          Kefir – While you can your own either using diary grains or water grains, you can also get unsweetened dairy kefir at your local supermarket)

          Want to Raise an Adventurous Eater?

          Get 10 bite-sized emails that takes you through the fundamentals of raising an adventurous eater. Practical tips you can start using today.

           

          Coconut Water

          The Perfect Hydration for as Sick Toddler

          Ever wonder how to keep a toddler hydrated when sick?

          Coconut water is super easy to have on hand and ticks all the boxes when a child doesn’t feel like eating. This drink is great for staying hydrated and it tastes good, so your toddler will want to drink this one. 

          Coconut water is a:
          • Good source of lauric acid, which helps to boost immunity
          • Good source of electrolytes, helping your child to stay hydrated
          • Can help fight the bugs causing mild gastroenteritis.
          • Good carbohydrate source to help keep your little one’s energy up when food is off the menu
          Where to find coconut water?

          Either in supermarket, normally with the water (make sure the ingredients list says 100% coconut water).

          Or, use the water out of a young coconut.  Most supermarkets stock this in the fresh produce isle – check out this youtube video for the easy way to open young coconuts.

          Tip

          If your baby or toddler is refusing everything to drink, first make sure you see you doctor. In the meantime give them some frozen ice-cube coconut water. The cold sensation can be enough to get them through. 

          Want to Raise an Adventurous Eater?

          Get 10 bite-sized emails that takes you through the fundamentals of raising an adventurous eater. Practical tips you can start using today.

           

          Child-friendly Winter-wellness Overview

          Having a sick child can be frightening.  Make sure you know the signs of anything serious. But if they are just a little off and refusing to eat then make sure you keep them hydrated. Coconut water is perfect hydration for a sick toddler.

          When they do show more interest in eating, make a Gut Lovin’ Smoothie – its a perfect come back food for a toddler during a cold.

          To help keep the winter blues away, get some Vitamin C into them with the Child-friendly wellness orange booster. 

          But, a load of hugs will help and they will be back on their feet in no time. 🙂 

          Other Gut Lovin’ Recipes You May Like

          Kid Favourite Kraut

          This is my go-to for our families fermented goodness.  With a range of vegetables and the addition of orange, your kids will go crazy over this. 

          This is amazing for keeping kids healthy.

          Is Baby Health Luck of the

          I started making this for my 4th when I introduce solids.  But it has become the family favourite breakfast spread.  The addition of garlic boosts this already immunity-boosting spread.  

          7 Reasons Your Child Refuses Vegetables

          Children typically go through a phase where they look at vegetables (or new food) with the same disgust as a pregnant person feels when someone drops a stinky one.

          But, just like my babies who didn’t sleep through the night –  it can last longer than it needs to…

          Find out if you’re making the same mistakes I made first time around. 

          Want to Raise an Adventurous Eater?

          Get 10 bite-sized emails that takes you through the fundamentals of raising an adventurous eater. Practical tips you can start using today.

           

          Recent Blogs From Adventurous Little Eaters

          3 Child-friendly Winter-wellness Drinks

          7 Reasons Your Child Refuses Vegetables

          7 Reasons Your Child Refuses Vegetables

          7 Reasons Your Child Refuses Vegetables

           When did your baby sleep the whole night through?

          All four of my children consistently ‘slept through’ only after I finished breastfeeding. When they were little and woke in the middle of the night, it was easier to feed them to sleep than to deal with the crying with only 1/3 of my brain ‘on-line’.

          I realise now that if I had just put a little more oomph into helping them to self-soothe (instead of using me a crux to sleep), they would have slept through much earlier.

          And I would not have suffered from the waking haze of tiredness that crept into my day.

          Getting children to eat vegetables is the same.

          Yes, you are right…

          Children typically go through a phase where they look at vegetables (or new food) with the same disgust as a pregnant person feels when someone drops a stinky one.

          (I can still feel my throat tighten when a family member farted in the car – giggles were replaced with gagging)

          But, just like my babies who didn’t sleep through the night –  it can last longer than it needs to.

          By understanding why they screw up their nose at your loving prepared broccoli, you can help them to enjoy healthy foods, just like we can help babies self-sooth to get a good night’s sleep.

          1. They are afraid…

          Would you like chicken feet for dinner?

          90% of you just felt the nausea of the first three months of pregnancy return.

          Chicken feet, to most of us, sounds, and looks about as appealing as your baby’s latest diaper change.

          But…

          What if I said…

          The delicacy tonight is eaten regularly in China by those who have a youthful complexion. It enhances collagen and helps you to radiate as you did before kids.

          Sounds more appealing, right?

          We are afraid of the unknown.

          So, make new foods that your child has not eaten yet, fascinating.

          Or better yet, make it familiar.

          They are more likely to try:

          • Broccoli, if you told them, they are dinosaur trees, knocking them down with your head and roaring as you open your mouth up to take a bite.
          • Carrot’s pulled straight from the ground, teaching them how they are grown.
          • Kumara, if you say it’s the sweetest potatoes they will ever have, they will want to try because you made a link to potatoes (if they like and eating potatoes).

          Just like I put chicken feet in a way that you can relate, “youthful complexion”, “radiates” – make vegetables or any new food into a story that your little one can relate to.

          We are less afraid of things we know, so make the unfamiliar vegetables familiar for them.

          Is your child afraid of ‘new’ foods?

          Make unfamiliar food, familiar.

          2.    Are you Gargoyle mum?

          I wish I weren’t, but I am. 

           I’m a ‘get shit done girl’. Why walk when you can run. Why mess about ‘encouraging’ your child to eat vegetables when can pull out gargoyle mum and bribe, reward… force them to eat it.

          It helps them eat it… right?

          Yes. In the short-term, but you will not always be there to make sure every pea is eaten.

          And, your kids will rebel.

          Busting out gargoyle mum every night leave’s you craving inner calm that is only achieved by wine.  (at least that was the way for me) 

          Do you want a way out of the dinner wars?

          Yes?

          Take out your emotion. It’s easier than you may think. 

          Your kids will have opinions about the food you have just cooked. Even if they haven’t tasted it yet. Don’t let their opinions mean anything to you. 

          Below is an example of a dinner with my emotions ruling and dinner without my emotions ruling.  Gargoyle, get shit done mum v’s non-reactional mum.

          Bottom line:  your kids are not saying yuck or gross to annoy you. I know how deflating it can be to get that reaction after you have put effort into making something healthy. But if you don’t take their response to mean anything to you, other than it is their opinion and they are entitled to it – it will take the emotion out of dinner times for you.

          Turing from gargoyle mum into a calm mum.

          Their reaction to your un-reaction,

          will astound you.

          3. The Strong-will Child

          Do you have a strong-willed kid?

          Years back, a friend of mine said something which changed the way I saw my strong-willed child.

          “We parent our kids out of the qualities we would love them to have as an adult”.

          Imagine having a strong-willed adult kid. Someone who stuck to their guns and stood up for what’s right. Who took on the world because their ‘will’ was as strong as Hercules on steroids.

          Makes me glee with imagined possibilities.

          But they are not adults, just yet.

          They are children.

          And that Hercules-like ‘will’… is up against you.

          Argh, so frustrating.

          If your child is strong willed, I am sure you can use manipulation, bribing or just everyday control to break them down.

          But do you want to break them?

          Getting around the Strong-willed child

          Children don’t have much control over their lives.

          They are told when to go to sleep, what to eat, they are given clothes to dress in and sometimes even forced to go toilet.

          Strong-willed children just want some control over their lives… and guess what is easiest to control…

          The food that passes their lips.

          Ways to give your strong-willed child control over their food

          1. Empathise with them like the example in #3.
          2. Give them three meal choices and ask which one they want.
          3. At the supermarket, ask them to pick out two vegetables they want to eat with dinners.
          4. Start a garden, ask what vegetable they want to grow.
          5. Always let them decide how much they eat (non-negotiable if you’re going to raise an Adventurous Little Eater)
          6. Last resort, have a go-to back up when they don’t want to eat dinner.  When they are not fussed on dinner, then they get the option of having the back-up.

          If you have a strong-willed child, find ways to get them on board without force on your part. It requires a little extra work up front, but they feel heard and understood.

          Give your strong-will child a say in what food passes their lips. (with your boundaries)

          They will make less of a fuss at the dinner table.

          4. Healthy food is yuck

          What is ‘kid’ food, and what is ‘adult’ food?

          Do you expect kids to like vegetables?

          When my 2-year-old polished off half a punnet of blueberries in front of our B&B host in Wales, it was like he had just seen her sprout muscles as Popeye did after eating a can of spinach. He spluttered and mumbled, unable to form words at 2-year-old eating blueberries.

          I didn’t quite get it, and I still don’t. Kids love berries. At least that is my opinion, my expectation.

          It wasn’t his.

          Do you expect toddlers to like blueberries?

          What about broccoli?

          Do you expect kids to love broccoli?…  Spinach?…  Mushrooms?…  Garlic?

          It is our expectation that forms our reality. Not the other way around.

          When you tell your kids to ‘eat your broccoli’ and then you will be rewarded with ice-cream. You are teaching them that broccoli is yuck – no wonder they don’t want to eat it.

          It is a standard held expectation that kids do not like vegetables. Some, like my B&B host, even think fruit.

          We can argue all we like about what comes first the chicken or the egg. Reality or expectation.

           Results speak for themselves.

          When you expect kids to like foods like vegetables, lentils, tofu, blue-cheese and when they either say ‘yuck’ or spit it out as a baby, you think ‘oh they just need to train their taste’…

          The reality is, kids, eat more vegetables. 

          What foods do you expect your kids to like?

          What foods do you expect your kids not to like?

          Expectation shapes reality. 

          5. Thinking taste is set in stone?

          I used to think that I was trying to figure out what my baby liked.  If she spat something out, it was a sure sign she didn’t like it.

           I had to find out what my baby liked… right?

          But, it’s not that way around… 

          How do you train arm muscles? Take a 50kg barbell and say well if you cannot lift it, accept you have weak arm muscles and they will be like that forever?

          Not likely.

           If you cannot lift that 50kg, you’ll start with a smaller weight, slowly increasing the weight regularly until the 50kg goes up as natural as your nightly wine goes down. You will train your muscle to grow stronger

           Taste buds are the same.

          You can train your taste-buds to accept (and like) more flavours.

          Yes, babies indeed have a preferential taste for food that you ate when you were pregnant and breastfeeding.

          But, their taste-buds are not set in stone.

          If kids (and adults) don’t like a food first time around, repeating the same taste will help to train their taste buds, so eventually, they will happily munch on a vegetarian quiche, blue cheese or olives.

          Try changing the way you cook foods. Roasted broccoli tastes different from boiled and adding garlic to sauté the florets changes the taste again.

          Half of getting kids eating vegetables is for the parent to be not afraid to experiment.

          When they say ‘yuck’, praise them for training their taste-buds. Saying ‘not to worry, eventually one day you will like it – your taste buds are growing stronger.’ 

          Note: I act like it is a grown-up thing to like vegetables and by them accepting more vegetables they are getting older.  What kid doesn’t want to be older or a big-kid?

          Getting your kids to like different foods is about repetition.

          The more they try,

          the more they will like.

          6. Textures are difficult.

          Is your child a sensory child?

          You will know. The seams of their socks irritate them, the texture of clothing has to be a certain way. As a baby, they may have taken a bit longer to adapt to the changing textures of food.

          Some babies and kids are more sensory than others. This will affect their food choices and what they say they like/dislike.  They are the ones that find foods such as broccoli, spinach and Brussel sprout very bitter.

          NOTE: don’t confuse your child with a sensory child if they seem not to like typically bitter foods. It may be that their taste buds are trained to sweet and therefore bitter foods, seem even stronger.  By decreasing sugary foods, you will find your child more accepting of these vegetables.

          What can I do to help my child accept more foods if they are sensory 

          Exposure.

          This is not an answer I am sure you wanted. But, science is settled when it comes to people who have a sensitivity to anything – from snakes to flying to food.

          Repeated, gradual, exposure helps to desensitise their reaction to what they struggle with.

          If you’re worried that they will form a negative association of say broccoli, and it is a vegetable that will be a regular in your family’s lives… you can introduce broccoli with a little sugar for the first three servings of that vegetable. 

          A research paper showed that by introducing vegetables with a bit of sugar, kids were more likely to like that vegetable later on. If you want to go ‘al natural’, then give stevia or honey a go (no honey for those under one though).   

          If you have a sensory child, repeated exposure to new, different food is the only way to help them grow a taste for that food. It’s like riding a bike, you need to have continued experience being able to balance while riding (taking steps to get there)  before

          Let your baby/toddler/child experience different textures, flavours etc even it is, little by little.

          More exposure = desensitizing taste buds = more of that food eaten.

          7. Your Little One is Programmed for Sweet Foods?

          Can your child sniff out chocolate?

          Emily said that she just needed to open a packet of biscuits and her daughter would sprout ninja-like skills appearing before her, waiting with eager anticipation as a dog waits at the door for his morning walk.

          If your child seems to have a one-track mind for anything sweet, there are 3 ways to help break this cycle.  

           

          1. Breaking the Fast

          Overnight you fast (go without food). Breakfast is ‘breaking the fast’.

          When you break the fast with something sweet, Cheerio’s, Ricies, most cereals, honey toast, orange juice, Up & Go  – to name a few everyday breakfast items… you set the day up to have sugar highs, followed by lows. 

          The sugar lows will result in cravings for something sweet. Sniffing out anything that can fill that hole.

          Try switching breakfast.

          Break the fast with protein and healthy fat foods.

          Avocado toast, porridge made with full-fat milk, a cereal that has nuts and seeds with a bit of full-fat natural yoghurt (sweeten with berries or honey if needed). Eggs; scrambled, poached, boiled, an omelette is a few of our favourite breakfasts in our home.

          Give it a go for a week and see if your child’s sugar craving reduces. 

           

          1. Feeding Good Gut Bacteria

          When you eat a highly processed diet with lots of sugars from the more typical chocolate bars and biscuits to the less insidious, crackers – your gut bacteria are dominated by guys who love this food. They (your residential gut bacteria) will then influence you to eat more of this food.

          To shift this balance, increase probiotic foods and fibre rich foods in your child’s diet. The balance of their bacteria will change.

          Cravings will become less, and they will feel more satisfied with dinner and not need something sweet.

           

          1. Habitual

          Most of you and your child’s foods choices are habitual.

          Like Pavlov’s dog. Every time they rang the bell, he would salivate in anticipation of food.

          A bell would ring… he would get food. 

          His brain started anticipating the food once the bell rang, hence salivating.

          Do you always serve a sweet treat after school or after dinner? 

          Can your child go without this sweet treat?

          If not, it is most likely a habit, something their body expects and prepares for at particular times of the day.

          Breaking a habit with your children requires resolve.

          Know what you’re doing and why. Sticking to your guns. And within a relatively short period, a new habit will be laid down.

          The sweet cravings at particular times of day will cease. 

          If your child seems to be programmed to eat only sweet things, try switching up breakfast, feeding their gut – not their brains and if in doubt always start with habits.

          Life-long healthy eating starts with habits.

          Refusing to eat vegetables is common childhood experience. One that if we, as parents are not conscious of can last longer than it needs to.

          In hind-site, it would have been much easier for me to help my babies self-sooth to get them sleeping through. Just a little more oomph in the middle of the night would have made my life easier.

          By getting more oomph into your day and tweaking how you teach you’re kids about food makes for healthy eating kids. Both now and in the future. 

          Dinner times, kids eating healthy food… can be a happy experience, even when they are a toddler.

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