A couple of Saturdays ago I was asked to speak to a group of mums at the Chilled Out Mama event. I have to admit that I was secretly petrified at the thought of bearing my soul to complete strangers for 25 minutes! It didn’t help when I ran my first speech past hubby and he basically told me there was a fine line between telling a depressing story and telling one with a motivational message and I was unfortunately on the depressing side of that line. Hhhmmm thanks for the pep talk babe… The good news is the second time around I got into my story telling groove and from all reports the mums left feeling a lot more inspired and relaxed than anything else
One of the interesting topics that popped up at this fabulous event was the concept of kids and their eating habits. Jude and I are very lucky that after a very challenging first couple of months with Siarra she will now eat anything; but some of the other mums in the room had such amazing stories about their kids’ eating habits that I was completely blown away – he wont eat fish, she wont eat anything orange or green, he wont eat anything that looks like a vegetable, she will only eat dry pasta, my baby wont eat anything unless it is covered in tomato sauce, they wont eat anything unless it has been pureed for 2.16 minutes exactly (ok… so I made that one up).
We all know that Australian Dietary guidelines are in place to help our little ones grow up nice and strong so that they can make our lives a living hell when they become teenagers. But try telling a screaming child that the yoghurt they are refusing to eat is going to give them the healthy bones that they will need when trying to sneak out of their room when they are older – somehow I don’t think they are going to stop crying and say ‘thanks mum!’ And with the latest ABS statistics stating that 25.3% of kids aged 5-17 years are overweight or obese we, as parents, need to figure out how to get our little ones into the habit of eating nutritious, balanced meals. All without unintentionally creating stressful food associations for them from an early age.
Lucky for me I wasn’t the one trying to comment on all these food related issues at the Chilled Out Mama event. The gorgeous girls from One Handed Cooks were close by to share some of their experiences and expertise when it came to dealing with fussy eaters. One of my favourite suggestions was to create a tasting plate with little morsels of food that your child is familiar with and enjoys, as well as some that they may have refused previously or may have not yet tried. The end result? Your little one will try new tastes without even realising and they will form positive food associations. The best thing about this suggestion is that it can be suitable for all age groups. And who doesn’t understand the appeal of a tasting plate – did somebody say cheese platter?
I also think that the Cancer Council has a cute idea. Their Eat It To Beat It campaign has a whole stack of yummy and child friendly recipes that will allow your children to associate food with fun. As a result they are much more likely to enjoy eating. Surely that’s how Curtis Stone and Matt Moran got their passion for cooking, don’t you think??
Of course, no-one is ever going to get it right all the time. As I mentioned in my talk – I have figured out the world is going to keep on turning and the sun will still come up tomorrow even if Siarra has some icecream before she has finished all of her vegies. As long as it is the exception and not the rule. Besides, all that calcium is going to come in handy when she is trying to winch open her padlocked, re-inforced double glass bedroom windows.
What are your favourite ways to get the prescribed number of fruit and vegies into your little ones? Do you actively keep track of what you are feeding your kids in relation to the Dietary guidelines? Do you have any horror and/or success stories related to getting kids to eat healthy and balanced meals?