At Natures Clinicals we believe that all the knowledge you will ever need about nutrition is within your reach. Within you is an amazing storehouse of all the information you have ever encountered about diet. Your body knows better than any book what nutritional balance it needs. It tries constantly to communicate that information, but it's just not always received and interpreted accurately.
Flax Seed Oil has become a very popular dietary supplement due to its high Omega 3 content. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that our body is unable to produce and should therefore be present in our diet for the maintenance of good health. Current food trends have resulted in a depletion of available Omega 3 in our diets. Adding Flax Seed Oil to our daily food intake through a varity of recipes or simply as a dietary supplement, rebalances this deficiency.
Pumpkin Seed Oil is extracted from the seeds of special varieties of pumpkin (Cucurbita maximus) and is rich in phytosterols and antioxidants. The unrefined oil has a rich flavor and a unique color. It appears dark red in the bottle, but once poured the oil is dark green with a deep red tinge.
As a general guideline, whole natural foods, unprocessed, free of chemicals, pesticides and colorings are a great place to start. Most of us are fortunate enough to have ready access to an abundance of beautiful fruits, vegetables, grains, and minimally processed meats as well as plenty of fresh fish.
We all like to see our children healthy, both physically and mentally.
That nutrition has a huge role to play in the health and vitality of our children is nowadays very much accepted. So much research has been carried out linking, to name a few obvious examples: food additives to behavioural problems; current eating habits to the marked increase in child obesity and diabetes; and a high fat diet to high cholesterol levels at an early age. We are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy foods and in general as a community what we eat is much less nutritious than it was 20 years ago.
If you are looking to improve your child’s diet, you may well be at a loss as to where to begin. Here are some tips for bringing up healthier children.
1/ This point was eloquently put forward by chef Jamie Oliver in his ‘School Dinners’ series: there are some things children must eat, like it or not. What exactly these things are may be open to some interpretation, but the message is clear: just as you don’t ask your child whether or not he or she would like to go to school, don’t ask them whether or not they’d like to eat their greens. Some foods (notably vegetables) should simply be non-negotiable.
2/ Difficult eaters generally only occur in a rich consumer society where children are given too much choice. A hungry child refuses no food. Not so long ago, we all sat around the table to have a family meal together, and we ate what mum cooked. There were no special “kids’ foods”, no alternatives, no bribes or prizes and no dessert if you didn’t eat your meal. By contrast, today we have a huge array of foods designated ‘for kids only’ and we are quick to offer our children ‘something else’ if they refuse to eat what’s on their plate.
3/ As parents we have the responsibility to educate our children to eat well just as much as to be polite, punctual or non-violent. Up to a certain age children are too young to make the correct choices regarding food.
4/What food should children eat? Most authorities agree on some basics: plenty of vegetables and fruit, plenty of whole grains, some good protein (from dairy, meat or fish) and a minimum of refined and junk food. All experts also agree that good food habits are best instilled early on. Here are some ideas which work. Hopefully they will help you feed your children well, with less trouble.
Back to the table
Eating is a social activity, and eating together is an important part of family life, not least because it encourages youngsters to share their parents' food. When you make a family meal a regular affair, cook the same food for all (assuming children over 2 years old). If you prepare healthy, varied food for the adults, there is no reason why the children shouldn’t eat it. It's also less time-consuming. You’ll reduce the chance of picky eating substantially, and will bring up children who take pleasure in and appreciate a variety of foods, flavours and textures.
Pacts, deals and agreements
Getting children involved in decisions over their food will get lots more co-operation around the dining table. Sit down with the kids and make a list of (healthy) foods they like, agree to try, and prefer not to have. Ensure both sides stick to this agreement until the next round of negotiations.
No more fighting
Set clear rules regarding food (whichever ones work for your family) and stick to them. When the rules and agreements are clear, it’s easier to avoid food battles and hassles, bribery, begging and rewards.
(Almost) the same
Substitute favourite foods with healthy alternatives. For instance, offer a bowl of muesli and fruit instead of processed breakfast cereals. Or offer organic baked beans instead of the usual supermarket variety. Try rice pasta instead of the normal white pasta.
If your child objects to broccoli on his plate, it doesn’t mean he won’t eat it in a delicious, blended soup. Fish might not go down well as one big chunk, but minced and made into burgers it might. Some vegetables (the all-important food group that tends to present the biggest challenge for parents) are more acceptable raw, hidden in a pizza sauce or served with some melted cheese.
When you think ‘snack’, think fruit or veg. Make this automatic link in your mind, so that gradually you (and your kids) stop thinking of a snack as a treat out of a bag. If it works half of the time, you’re doing great.
'Can I help?'
Children love helping in the kitchen and are more likely to eat something they prepared. Make time for it when you are relaxed and in no rush to make dinner, and use the opportunity to introduce them to one or two new foods.
Something to avoid, too
Side by side with all these positive changes, explain to your kids what’s good and not so good for them and why, and encourage a move away from fizzy drinks, sugary treats and salted snacks. Teaching them what to avoid and what to accept - in food as in life - is part of their education.
Peer pressure, advertising power and social demands are likely to combine to make the task of feeding your children healthily quite challenging. It’s impossible to avoid junk food, the temptations of ready-prepared, processed foods are great, and you may be seen as odd by other parents if you insist that plain pasta is not a good enough dinner. Your children, too, may fail to appreciate your efforts. So if you manage to achieve some good results most of the time, congratulate yourself. You’re doing great, and you’re doing your kids a big favour.
Children need to eat a variety of foods everyday to be healthy. I know from my own experience that school lunches can be tricky. Often the problem is that they come home uneaten or the best and healthiest parts are left uneaten at least. It sometimes is tempting to put in unhealthy treats in the hope that something will at least not come home in the lunch box. However, this is not a good idea as it sets up unhealthy eating habits that can be hard to break. Here are some ideas below on how to create a good packed lunch that will get eaten and keep your child healthy and also some ideas on how to energise your child with a nutritious breakfast.
A healthy breakfas
A healthy breakfast wakes up your child's body by starting his / hers metabolism. Breakfast provides the energy he or she needs for the day. Research has found that children who skip breakfast tend to weigh more. This may be because these hungry children eat more later during the day. If your child doesn’t have a good breakfast they may have less concentration at school as well.
Mornings can be a mad rush for many families. Thankfully, breakfast can be relatively quick and easy to prepare. Whole oats / porridge (try to stay away from the quick cook variety) is a great start, eggs, wholegrain toast, peanut butter and fruit are great breakfast foods. I often give my son some durum pasta with homemade tomato sauce as it gives him lots of energy for the day and keeps his tummy full. Avoid cereals high in sugar that give little nutrition and lead to crash and burn energy patterns soon after. Breakfast cereals aimed at children have excessive levels of sugar, salt and fat and very little of anything nutritious. Weet-bix are okay, as are some low sugar muesli’s.
Packed Lunches (some tips)
- Keep it simple. Chances are, they will prefer simple foods. Try tuna or cheese sandwich squares accompanied by rice cakes and peanut butter, as well as fresh fruit (such as an apple or strawberries). See the lunch box ideas included.
- Think of ways to get protein into the lunch instead of just carbohydrates. Add a cheese stick, a small cup of tuna salad with pickles, or sliced meat and veggies in a pita pocket. Provide a cup of peanut butter for dipping apple slices into or smearing on top of mini rice cakes. A lunch that is purely carbohydrate will turn quickly into sugar and enter the cells leaving the child with a slump soon after lunch. Protein slows this spike and slump process down and gives more sustained energy.
- Ask your child to help. If you bring your child to the store, he or she will help you plan the lunches and therefore be more likely to eat them. Ask your child specific questions: Do you want a salad in your lunch this week? How many times? Do you want baby carrots? Hot noodles?
- Substitute favourite foods with healthy alternatives. For instance, offer a bowl of muesli and fruit instead of processed breakfast cereals. Or offer organic baked beans instead of the usual supermarket variety. Try homemade popcorn or pretzels instead of potato chips. Instead of white bread try whitish bread with whole-grains in it. Instead of muesli bars (believe it or not, most of these are relatively unhealthy, being high in sugar and hydrogenated fats), try pistachio nuts and dried apricots.
- If you are trying to improve current habits, don’t throw out everything you have in the cupboard and start afresh all at once. If you go to extremes, chances are your child may resent it and it won’t take long before you go back to the old eating habits. Expose them to new foods slowly and gradually, so they don’t feel that all their favourites have been taken away from them in one go.
- It will be a lot easier for you to teach your children to eat well if you do. It’s hard to expect them to eat their salad while you tuck into a bag of chips. If they see you eat vegetables, fruit, rice and fish, they'll be more inclined to want them.
- Explain to your kids what’s good and not so good for them and why, and encourage a move away from fizzy drinks, sugary treats and salted snacks. Teaching them what to avoid and what to accept - in food as in life - is part of their education.
Here are some ideas for school lunches that are easy to prepare and balanced.
- Peanut butter sandwich
- Muffin ( try for home made as supermarket varieties are high in hydrogenated fats and preservatives)
- Banana & Apple
- Water bottle
- Pistachio nuts
- Hot cup – with thin noodles, peas, carrot, corn, cooked in instant stock
- Nuts and raisins
- Rice crackers and hummus dip or cheese
- Sandwich – tuna and cheese or last nights meat and salad
- Low-fat yoghurt
- Water bottle
- Sandwich – cheese, lettuce and carrot
- Low-fat yoghurt
- Carrot and celery sticks
- Dried fruit
- Rice crackers and cheese
- Avocado roll up (soft bread with crusts removed, spread and rolled)
- Hard-boiled egg
- Carrot stick
- Fruit biscuits
- Kiwifruit with spoon and knife
- Rice salad – last night’s leftover rice, celery, capsicum, raisins and peanuts (moistened with mayonnaise, vinaigrette or orange juice)
- Celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter
- ½ avocado (squeeze lemon juice over to stop browning)
- Crackers and cheese or dip
- Slice carrot with a potato peeler to get thin bits in sandwich
- Crackers and dip
- Slices or fingers of cucumber, cherry tomatoes
- Left over large style pasta (penne, spirals, etc) mixed with cheese sticks, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes
- Left over potato salad
- Use ½ pita (rolls or flatbread) instead of bread
- Cut sandwiches to fingers or squares or roll up to make it ‘new’