Tip #6: Embrace Diversity

160h

Source: Gratisography

This has two main objectives:

1) Making diversity the new norm

If you want kids to be more accepting to new foods, change ingredients around often. This teaches children to be adaptive and flexible.

Think of a person that has lived in several places (like me!). I’ve lived in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, which means I’ve met and seen many different people from different cultures. When compared with my peers, I am more accepting and understanding of different traditions, religions etc.

Something similar goes for food. If you child constantly sees new combinations and foods appear on the dinner table, they will gradually understand that CHANGE is OK, and it’s not that scary. They will feel more at ease with new flavours and stepping out of their comfort zone.

2) Creating interesting meals

Who likes spaghetti with meatballs 7 days a week?spaghetti-576787_1280.png

Make meals interesting and something to look forward to! If it’s oats with blueberries today, why not add some cocoa powder and bananas tomorrow? If you made chicken avocado sandwiches today, why not change it to cheese and avocado toast tomorrow?

If children find meal time more interesting, they will generally be more excited about it!

Things to keep in mind


165050612.jpgMake sure there’s at least one food that your child will like
. This makes your child more comfortable with meal time, and assures you that he/she will be eating something. When children feel more comfortable, they will be more likely to try other things on the table.

Even if your child likes one dish a lot, be mindful of how often you serve it. You want to teach them to have a balanced and versatile diet and not rely on only one type of food. Serving it once in a while will also keep them excited about it, rather than getting bored of it!

-R.L.

Advertisements

Tip #5: Dividing Responsibility at the Dinner Table

photo-1455815323463-b27bb4f82953

Source: Danielle McInnes (Unsplash)

During meal time, parents should be in charge of WHAT, WHEN & WHERE to eat, while children are responsible for HOW MUCH and WHETHER OR NOT they want to eat.

As a parent, carefully plan the family’s meals so that you’re not giving in to ‘short-order cooking’.

You want to ensure that there is something everyone prefers, but also new foods to keep things interesting.

You also want to ensure that meal time is free of distractions and that snack times are well planned so they don’t affect your child’s appetite.


 

Your child, has the responsibility of deciding whether they eat and how much they eat.

There should be no ‘one-bite’ rules, and no force feeding.

You can however, teach your children how to monitor their internal cues for when they are full and express their preferences in a polite and more positive manner.

picky-eater-infographic

Source: Hero Nutritionals

The above has been drawn from Ellyn Satter’s books on happy and healthy eating.

-R.L.

Mealtime Memories

red-bear-child-childhood-large

Source: Pexels

What’s your worst childhood mealtime memory?

Mine was when my aunt would tease me every time they bought out the oranges after dinner, because I was that ‘awkward’ child that didn’t (and I still don’t) eat oranges.

To be honest, I still don’t like seeing that aunt, because she brings back bad memories. I feel that there’s something WRONG about me when I’m around her.

Now what’s your best childhood mealtime memory?

Mine was when my mum would make me my three favourite dishes on my birthday. I really liked how she understood what I liked and disliked and would give me that combo every now and then.

Until now, those flavours still bring back good memories, like how a song can carry emotions and meaning.


So how do you want your child to look back on their mealtime memories 20 years later?

Something different to what you’ve experienced? Something similar?

Is there something you can draw from your experience?

What do you want ‘mealtime’ to mean to you children?

pic

Source: Allie Eats Three Foods

 

Fun?

Happy?

Stressful?

Anxious?

Scared?

 

 

 

I’m not saying you need to smile and be that super nice and caring mum or dad EVERY night during dinner. However, by just being more conscious about what voice you use during meal time, you can make a big difference. 

Parenting is hard, and all you amazing mums and dads are doing a great job!

Keep it up 🙂

-R.L.

My Meal Prepping Tips

dsc046182

Like many mums and dads out there, there are a million (or maybe more) things that I need to get done over the week, and cooking is certainly not something I want to be wasting time on. However, understandably we all know that we can save a lot of money while getting nutritious meals by cooking ourselves.

So how to we make meal prep less stressful?

After few years of experimenting, I’ve come up with some TIPS on how I meal prep.

The Veggies

Tip #1: Buy what’s in season

It will save you money and get you good quality.

Tip #2: Find out how to store them

Some veggies can last quite a while if stored correctly, so I always try to Google up the best way to store it. For example, I found out that broccoli is best stored in a plastic bag (there are other ways, but this works best for me).

Tip #3: Run veggies under cold/ice water after steaming/cooking and drain VERY well before storage

This keeps the veggies from turning yellow and becoming soggy. The draining part is very important!

I usually just steam or boil my veggies for 3-4mins (w/ salt, fresh ginger slices or olive oil) and store them in air-tight containers. You can portion them and put them in zip-lock bags too if that’s more convenient.

Tip #4: < 3 days in the fridge; >3 days in the freezer

This is my little rule.

If I’ll eat it within 3 days ⇒ fridge

More than 3 days ⇒ freezer


The Protein

dsc04346

My favorite is chicken breast, because it’s not that expensive and easy to prepare (no taking off the bones and cutting off excess fat).

Tip #1: Marinate in the zip-lock bag

This means the meat is ready to go whenever you need to cook!

Every time I buy meat, I’ll clean it, wipe it dry and chuck in a large zip-lock bag with whatever spices I like.

Then I either freeze it or put it in the fridge to cook within 2 days. If you put it in the freezer, the meat will marinate itself when it defrosts.

I find that yogurt, milk and lemon all help tenderize the meat!

Here are some good combinations that I’ve tried out (for around 1 kg of meat) <–skip the dairy to make it dairy-free

  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder + 1 tbsp smoked paprika + 1 tbsp yogurt + squeeze of lemon
  • 3 tbsp paprika + 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 3 tbsp tamari + minced ginger + 1 tbsp mirin (optional) + 2 tbsp japanese rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder + 1 tbsp turmeric + 1 tbsp smoked paprika + 3 cloved minced garlic

*Experiment with whatever you have in the kitchen and garden, from spices to herbs!

Tip #2: Pan fry for 1.5 min on each side then into the oven 180 degrees for 10-15min

Yes I know what you’re thinking….I have to wash an extra pan??

But trust me, this method keeps the chicken juicy and ends up saving you time if you cook in bulk, because the oven does most of the work.

It will take some experimenting to get the oven time right, but you’ll be a pro after 3 or 4 times.

When it’s meal time, I microwave my chicken and it’s still tender and juicy!

For storage, I pack them in portions (in zip-lock bags) or put them in a glass container. To defrost, either put it in the fridge for 1-2 days or on the counter for a few hours…OR you can do it the quick way and chuck it in the microwave.


The Carbs

bread-587597_960_720

Source: Pixabay

Whether it’s sweet potato, rice or other grains, they can all be portioned and frozen.

If I’m eating them in the next few days, I just put them in a glass container and in the fridge.

-R.L.

[Video] What’s the best diet?

ANSWER: One that you and your kids enjoy

The truth is that every person is different. We all have different preferences, needs, likes and dislikes.

What’s the point if I cut carbs and then crave them badly everyday, feeling guilty every time I eat spaghetti?

Pressure, anxiety and guilt is your worst enemy.

There’s no need to ban anything from your diet or your child’s diet. Just remember ‘everything in moderation‘.

If your kids want to eat cake or ice-cream once it a while, that’s completely fine! Enjoy it! It’s all part of a healthy lifestyle.

Being healthy is not just about diet and exercise, it’s also about being happy and loving yourself for who you are.

 

Teach your kids to love themselves by loving yourself.

-R.L.

Tip #4: Play with food

healthy-1607692_1280

Play chess with your veggies!  |  Source: Pixabay

Yes.

Let them play with it!

Mush it, touch it and maybe lick it. This is especially useful for younger children when they’re still exploring things around them.

If they’re not allowed to explore the food and figure out themselves that it’s safe to eat, they’re unlikely to be putting it into their mouth.

So give your kids some freedom in exploring new foods, and maybe even get them involved in the kitchen when you’re decorating the cake or topping the breakfast oats.

Other Fun Ideas:

  • Make star shaped and heart shaped sandwiches with cookie cutters
  • Make animals out of dough
  • Use a mini ice-cream scoop to make little watermelon or rock melon balls
  • Make traffic-light eggs by slicing capsicum horizontally and cracking an egg in

I recently came across Jacob’s Food Diaries, which is a really amazing inspiration for parents! The Melbourne mum Laleh started making these amazing creations to make healthy food fun for her son Jacob. I think it’s a great example of how we can create a positive relationship between children and food.

 

14034771_502576096533558_1154098792539081781_n2.jpg

Source: Jacob’s Food Diaries Facebook Page

This may look all a bit too much for busy mums, but sometimes just adding a bit of colour to your child’s food can make a big difference!

-R.L.

Stop ‘Weight Talk’

pexels-photo-139106-large

Source: Pexels

“She’s so skinny, is she not eating enough?”

“I’ve been gaining weight, I probably need to start dieting”

“My thighs are massive!”

Have you ever said something like this to yourself or someone else? 

Any comments, to yourself or to others, to suggest problems with weight are considered ‘weight talk‘.

When we say these things, those little ears are listening and those observant eyes are watching. This is how they developing standards of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

If their mother or aunt constantly talks about dieting and how huge her arms are, children will begin to realise that huge arms are ‘bad’.

If their mum comments on a skinny friend on how good they look, they will grow up thinking that being ‘thin’ is good and will try to live up to those (unrealistic) standards (possibly using unhealthy methods).

young people [are]…overexposed to unrealistic body shapes

Dr Newton

What are the facts of weight obsession?

  • Body dissatisfaction – 7 out of 10 preschool aged children are unhappy with how they look, preferring a ‘thin’ body. 
  • Eating disorderskids with parents that talk about dieting or diet are more likely to diet in the future and develop eating disorders.
  • Fear of food – kids can end up trying to avoid food groups and developing anxiety. This reduction in variety can cause selective eating (or increase the severity).

The problem is we focus too much on WEIGHT and APPEARANCE and too little on MENTAL and PHYSICAL health.

If your child is eating happily, developing a good relationship with food, and your family doctor has no concerns about their health, it doesn’t really matter if they look slightly thinner or fatter than other children.

They are MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY healthy!

What do we need to do?

What’s important is that we teach children about ‘mindful eating’ and listening to their internal cues.

They need to learn how to enjoy eating and consume all foods in moderation. NOT judging their self-worth by their weight or how they look.

To everyone out there: try to be more conscious of what you are saying around children. It’s not easy, but if we make the effort, we can minimise the long-term impacts on our children.

*If you’re interested in more tips on developing a mindful eater, check out Baby Guru Nutrition, I just love their values on eating and nutrition!