How to Eat like a Yogi #1: Listen to your body

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Source: Flickr

Firstly, I must state that this is not a ‘detox’ or ‘diet’ blog post. I’m trying to share a way of approaching food which I have learned from my yoga practice.

What is a yogi? 

A yogi is a person who practices yoga.

So, how do you eat like a yogi? 

In short, eating like a yogi means approaching food in a relaxed and positive manner.

No strict guidelines like you MUST NOT eat something, or HAVE TO eat something.

I’ll be splitting some main points into several posts, so you can slowly think about them and maybe apply them in your family to see if they work out.

#1 Listen to your body

In yoga, there is no right or wrong. Because the person next to you can do a handstand, it

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Source: Pixabay

doesn’t mean you should be pressured to do so in any way.

Teach your children to listen to their internal cues, such as how hungry they are, when they are full, whether they are ready for a new food. If Max, whose sitting next to your child likes to eat carrots and beans, he/she by no means needs to be pressured to eat those foods too.

Everyone is unique and will feel different everyday. Maybe today you can do the splits, but tomorrow your muscles might not feel comfortable to do so, and that is OK.

Today, little Tommy may feel like potatoes, and tomorrow he may not even want to see them. Tell your child that it’s OK and it’s good that he is learning to listen to his body.

Remember that it’s alright if your child’s preferences change around and their hungry today and not tomorrow. The best skill they can learn is to listen to their body and do what they feel is right.

-R.L.

Tip #6: Embrace Diversity

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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.

Tip #5: Dividing Responsibility at the Dinner Table

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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.

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Source: Hero Nutritionals

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

-R.L.

Tip #4: Play with food

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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.

 

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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.

Tip #3: Are cookies a ‘bad’ food?

 

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Source: Morguefile

“That’s bad for you”

“You’ve been naughty today, you ate so much chips at the party”

“I feel so guilty for eating that fudge cake the other day”

Everyone has probably said something like that, whether it is to children, or to friends. However, have you thought of how such labeling could impact on your child’s diet?

What happens when foods are labeled as ‘Bad’?

  • You crave them more don__t_press_that_button_by_piggybank12-d5ekdrq
    You’d probably be more likely to press a button that says ‘DO NOT PRESS’, let alone your curious kids
  • Kids develop ‘Food Guilt’
    They’ll think they are bad/naughty for eating a ‘bad’ food, creating anxiety or pressure.
  • Kids become afraid of certain foods
    This creates anxiety and a negative relationship with food.
  • Kids judge others on what they eat
    Thinking that a friend is not as ‘good’ because they had choc chip biscuits for snack instead of an apple.

The TRUTH

  • Food is neutral
    You are not bad for eating chips and not better than the person next to you for eating a salad
  • Too much of anything can be unhealthy for children
    Fruit is nutritious, but everything in moderation. Too much of a ‘good’ thing may also be unhealthy.
  • Packaging can be misleading 
    Vegetables are often classified as ‘good’, but does that mean kale chips covered in sugar, salt and palm oil is healthy?
    Check out what The Nutrition Guru and the Chef said.

 

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Source: Pixabay

What should you say & do instead?

  • Say that they are a “sometimes” or “once in a while” food
  • Emphasise the positive/good
  • Teach kids to have a balanced diet, not one that is skewed towards a certain group of foods. This removes the concept that some foods are forbidden, allowing kids to happily enjoy their ice cream, while understanding that veggies are also important.

-R.L.

Tip #2: Try, try & try again

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It’s the 4th time your kid has rejected the broccoli

So, you conclude it’s a ‘disliked’ food and stop serving it.

However, research shows that it takes children over a dozen exposures to a certain food before they begin to accept and maybe like it.

 

“A child should aim to try something 10-15 times, without the pressure to eat it.

-Dr. Powell

 

IMPROVES HEART HEALTH (1).jpgYou can imagine this as meeting a new person. You wouldn’t call them your friend or best friend before you get to know them.

It would probably take at least a few weeks for you observe whether this person would be a suitable friend, and then a few years before they become your best friend.

Kids also need to get to know their food, and this takes TIME.

 

So what can you do?

Try, try & try again

They might reject it the first 5 times

Spit it out the next 5 times

Eat one bite the next 5 times….

then at the 20th time, they might just surprise you by saying

THEY LIKE IT!

So don’t give up trying. Find different ways of exposing children to new foods

Check out the infographic for some extra tips.

You can look to the recipes section on my site for some fun ideas!

 

-R.L.

Can sugar make your ‘picky’ eater stay picky?

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Short answer. Yes!

WHY?

Sugar can affect taste buds¹Tips to Reduce Sugar in your Child’s Diet (2).jpg

When children consume too much sugar on a daily basis, they crave more sweet foods and will be more resistant to healthier alternatives that are low in sugar.

Research shows that picky eaters eat over 50 grams of sugar per day! That’s over 12 teaspoons of sugar!

Do I need to ban everything that has sugar?

No. We support EVERYTHING IN MODERATION, so if your kid goes to a birthday party, they should by all means enjoy the cake without any guilt.

In fact, banning something can actually increase their crave for it. Food guilt is also not good for healthy relationships with food.

What’s important is that they establish a good foundation of eating habits. If your child generally enjoys nutritious foods low in sugar, they will be unlikely to indulge as much sugar as their peers, because it will be too much for them!

 

But my kid doesn’t like fruit & veg…

That’s OK. You can start by taking baby steps and creating that pressure-free eating environment. You can also refer to the infographic for some quick tips!

If your child is currently hooked onto sugary drinks, why not try diluting it with water first and gradually taking it out of their normal diet.

You can also educate your child on sugar by challenging them to identify the amount of sugar in supermarket cereals and finding the one with the least sugar. Children always learn better when they’re having fun!

Do you have any other tips to share? 

-R.L.

 


¹ Laura Kopec ‘My Kid’s a Picky Eater: Twelve Secrets to Changing Your Child’s Eating Habit