Eating habits are learned behaviours; they’re not intuitive. What children learn at home sticks with them well into adulthood.
I am lucky enough to have two amazing little people in my life. My niece and nephew are two of the most important individuals and I take the role as “Auntie Tasha” very seriously.
Making them nourishing foods that they love to eat is one of my greatest joys. When they finish a plate of my food, my heart skips a beat. I know, I need to get a cat or something.
I have total hit and misses when it comes to creating foods that they love; my niece is sometimes a little hard to crack. She has been the ‘test child’ for many of my recipes and proceeds with caution when trying my creations.
Her favourite dishes are my veg bolognas, Shepherd’s Pie, Nut Balls and recently, finally my Strawberry Kisses (a gelatine based ‘lollie’). Her least favourites are bone broth (which I now add to everything that is savoury, drizzle over broccoli, chicken, any type of meat) and smoothies.
My nephew on the other hand, LOVES all food and his tastebuds are custom to just about anything. He isn’t a fan of gelatine lollies so I add bone broth instead.
‘Nourishing foods’ are different for everyone and that is okay. I am not saying this is how everyone should eat rather this way this is what works for me and my family.
So, ‘real food’ for me: Organic Vegetables, Fruits, Bone Broths, Grass Fed Meats, Free range eggs, Healthy Fats (Coconut oil, Avocados, cold pressed olive oils), Gelatine and some nuts with the occasional Treat yo’ self birthday party , had a crappy day, CBF cooking or the silly season (because nourish that soul!)
These are some things that have worked for us:
ALLOWING A CHOICE : I try to find nourishing foods that they love and have a range available so they can choose what they want to eat. I know for my little people ‘faves’ can change daily and I’m pretty sure that for 6 months when I asked Abbey what she wanted for dinner, it was always steamed broccoli, avo and honey mustard chicken with nut balls for dessert. Platters work well too, generally we use cucumber, carrots, avo, cold meats.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Eating a burger with onion rings whilst telling a child to eat their chicken with steam veg is going to go down like a cup of hot glass. Any food I encourage them to try, I eat myself, I try new things with them and am honest when I don’t like the taste of something or a particular fruit or veg, I explain to them that I don’t love but I know it makes me able to swim longer. I used to have an obsession with red capsicums, so Abbey would always see me eating them, one day staring at me chomping away, she grabbed one and started eating them with me. This phase lasted a few weeks however it was a reminder that they are always watching and absorbing.
BEING FORCEFUL: I made this mistake or forcing my niece to eat foods I believed were the best for her and telling her ‘sugar was bad’ rather than being positive and explaining the benefits of nourishing foods and encouraging her to be mindful of how her body feels after processed foods or processed sugar. This created an unhealthy habit of her feeling guilt and hiding if she was eating chocolate or donuts. I felt like absolute shit that she had felt pressure to hide from me and having that I have previously experienced eating disorders and treatment in my teens and early twenties, this was devastating and it lead me to research healthy food habits and positively influencing for kids.
GET THEM IN THE KITCHEN: I never really thought this would help but it has and after some researching, it is proven that getting kids into the kitchen makes a difference. If we are cooking, Logan is there by our sides, stirring, chopping with a blunt knife, cracking eggs. He is always trying to eat whatever were cooking so it encourages him to try new things. The first thing ever I made with Abbey was banana bread, she was so proud of herself that she had bought the bananas, cracked the eggs, blended the almonds, that every time she ate a piece she proudly talk about the ingredients that were in it.
MOVE YOUR BODIES: If I spend the day with Abbey, quite often she will reject any foods that I initially offer her however by lunch time she is a cranky little monster and we now make a joke about her “Hangryness”.
Generally we will do something where she is moving, running around at the park, swimming in the ocean, or rock climbing at Lattitude. By the time lunch time comes around she is demanding strawberries, almonds and avocado. Now, I’m not sure that is because she is starving hungry or as several studies suggest that kids who exercise are more likely to keep exercising as an adult and further more triggers a desire for improvements in other areas of your life such as diet, the phenomenon is known as the transfer effect.
DO THE BEST YOU CAN/DON’T COMPARE: Lastly, I’m not perfect, you are not perfect, we live in an imperfect world, so do you best with what you have at the present time.
My niece and nephew like most kids (and adults) love sugar and many scientists suggest that humans are primed to want sugar at an instinctive level as it plays such a vital role in our survival. It is understandable that more often than not kids would rather a donut over a plate of broccoli!
If you are struggling with getting your little ones to eat nourishing foods, don’t compare yourself to other parents or your kids to other kids and especially not to those online. You don’t see others struggles and people control what they post online. You are on your own individual unique journey, doing the best that you can.
Making small changes, having little wins here and there, focusing on what nourishing foods your little ones love and slowly adding more of the good stuff.
Try my Strawberry Chia and Cream pops with your little ones (and for yourselves). They are sweet, full of good fats and dairy free!
Strawberry Chia and Cream Pops
1 cup of frozen strawberries
1 Tbs of chia seeds
1 TBS of honey
1 cup of full fat coconut cream ( I use AYAM)
2 Tbs of honey
1 Tbs of gelatine (I used Great Lakes Gelatine)
1 Tsp of vanilla extract
DirectionsSTRAWBERRY CHIA Purée strawberries and honey until smooth. Stir in chia seeds and set aside.
CREAM Blend coconut cream, honey, gelatine and vanilla until well combined. Alternately spoon strawberry and cream mixture into ice cream moulds until they are full. Pop in the freezer until completely set (about 3-4 hours depending on mould size) Remove from freezer a minute or two before serving and run under warm water to release from the molds.
Natajshia has a brilliant event tomorrow Saturday 21st January at 2pm, Raw&More Nourishing Cafe, Findon SA, where she will be demonstrating and where YOU will be tasting five of her favourite recipes! Bookings essential as seats are limited. Book HERE. Get in quick!