Ensuring your child gets the right nutrients is hard, especially if they’re a picky eater. Try these tips from naturopath Marlie Ferguson.
You’ve lovingly crafted the perfect, nourishing meal for your child: spaghetti bolognese with lean mince, grated vegetables, wholegrain pasta with a little cheese on top. But they merely pick at the pasta and nibble the cheese before pushing it away, declaring, “I’m full.” Welcome to the dinnertime stand-off.
Children are prone to taste neophobia, the fear of trying new flavours. Wary of yet another stand-off, parents may pander to their little neophobes, offering familiar bland foods like plain pasta, rice and bread that they know will at least be eaten. Unfortunately, bland foods are typically rather bland on the nutrition front too, lacking the protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that growing bodies and brains need. Thus, munching on bread and plain pasta may leave a child feeling full, but it leaves their little body hungry for nourishment.
The benefits of health habits
Ensuring adequate nutrition for children is a battle most parents are losing. Less than 1 per cent of Australian children aged two to three years consume the recommended serves of vegetables. Only 78 per cent eat enough fruit; while four to eight-year-olds eat just one-third and two-thirds of their vegetable and fruit requirements, respectively.
As parents, we cannot underestimate the benefits of adequate childhood nutrition will have on wellbeing throughout life. Apart from their substantial vitamin and mineral content, fruits and vegetables provide valuable phytochemicals and antioxidants. These substances reduce inflammation and oxidative stress while improving immune function and bone strength. Healthy habits instilled during childhood have been shown to persist into adolescence and adulthood, reducing the risk of a plethora of diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and dementia.
The good news is that parents have a secret weapon to help them win the battle and ensure when children eat they are nourished. Morlife Clever Kidz and Greens Kidz are nutrient-dense wholefood greens and chocolate formulas that fuel their growing bodies and brains and are nutritional insurance for parents of picky eaters.
Try these easy ideas to sneak more nourishment into your kids:
- Put a fruit bowl where children can see and reach it
- Fortify juice, smoothies and milk with wholefood supplements; sprinkle them onto yoghurt and cereal, too
- Store carrot and celery sticks in easily accessible containers in the fridge
- Chop soft fruits into fun shapes with cookie cutters
- Hide vegetables in the food, such as powdered kale in savoury muffins
- Lead by example – replace ‘sometimes’ food with healthier alternatives
Hidden Greens Breakfast Balls
1 cup (110g) rolled oats
1 cup (150g) frozen blueberries
1 tbsp peanut or almond butter (or coconut butter for nut-free schools)
1/3 cup (25g) desiccated coconut, plus extra for coating
2 serves (12g) Morlife Greens Kidz powder
- Place oats, blueberries, Morlife Greens Kidz powder and nut butter in a food processor and blitz to form a thick paste. Stir through the coconut.
- Form mixture into balls and roll in the extra coconut.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.