By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
Persuading a wilful child to eat healthy food may not be easy but sometimes it's hard to persuade them to put on their seatbelt and you wouldn't start driving until they did. The two battles are similar.. Both protect their safety which is every parent's job.
My husband is a building project manager and over the years I have learned the importance of laying solid foundations at the start of any building project.
Pregnant women are generally very careful about what to eat to protect the developing fetus. Once children can eat solid foods and express their will, however, some parents surrender to fussy eaters by giving them what's easy and involves the least fuss.
I'm sorry parents, that's not OK. If you want your child to develop a strong body and mind, it's NOT how you lay solid foundations. To do that you MUST feed them proper food and proper food does not come in plastic sachets squirted straight into their mouth.
You are the adult. For your child's health, do not give in.
Up until the age of 24/25 your child's body is developing. After that, the aging process begins. If the body and mind are not properly formed by then the degeneration process is likely to be more rapid.
Let's look at some of the systems in the body:
Take the nervous system; research confirms a healthy diet is crucial to reduce the risk of developing anxiety and depression. We know slow-releasing, high fibre carbohydrates help feed the brain and improve cognitive function, Omega 3 fats from oily fish, grass-fed beef, and seeds like flaxseeds and chia play a role in reducing inflammation and depression, and fresh fruit and vegetables are crucial to maintaining a strong brain-gut connection.
Then there's the respiratory system - Food additives and colourings found in packaged food are known to increase the risk of asthma. Fresh fruit and veg, particularly those which are rich in vitamin C such as lemons, oranges, kiwi fruit, guava, avocado, and dark leafy greens will play an important role in protecting the respiratory system.
When it comes to the digestive system, I want to say this, children should not get constipation! It is not normal to feed your kids laxatives, and nor can you expect them to be able to go to the toilet naturally with no fibre and very little water in their diet. Fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breakfast cereals and beans, and plenty of water, and your children should be a regular as clockwork.
Never have we been more conscious of the importance of a strong immune system. Before Covid, it was commonplace for kids to catch colds at school or fall and scrape their knees. Give them real food and allow their bodies the chance to fight the infection. The more you allow this system to work the stronger it becomes and the body's natural defense kicks in.
Fresh fruit and vegetables which provide vitamin C and K, zinc for wound repair found in lean meat and seafood, and Vitamin D from the sunlight and oily fish, and butter will all help maintain a strong immune function.
Let's go back to our building analogy and compare the muscular and skeletal systems with the frames, trusses, bricks, and mortar on a building. Children need protein to manufacture muscle and they need calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D to develop strong bones. Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, seafood, milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, whole grains, beans, and good fats will all achieve this.
So how do you get fussy kids to eat proper food?
If my article has convinced you that it is essential to try then read Emily Nunn's excellent blog from The Department of Salad which gives some step by step suggestions that have proven to be effective.
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