Archive for the ‘Healthy food for kids’ Category
I know you are busy. I know the family, work, school juggle and how as parents we are constantly looking for what is easy, quicker, cheaper and more efficient. But I reckon it is a good idea to momentarily pause as you race round the supermarket…
Various studies say around 70% of food eaten by your kids is what you give them – more if they are younger, less if they are older. So some simple changes that you make can have a huge flow on effect.
Much of what we do is automatic, we don’t even realize the cumulative implications. By being aware of a few potential trouble spots can make you hesitate long enough to make a difference.
Scan through this list and see what resonates with you.
- As you are about to load that big pack of cookies into your trolley, look for a smaller pack. (This is contrary to budgeting advice as bulk packs are generally cheaper – but remember a bulk pack in your pantry requires discipline to slow the eating… if it’s not there they, or you, can’t eat it.)
Have your kids got the discipline not to finish a big bag of cookies once it is opened? In most cases a mega bag and a standard bag will get eaten at exactly the same rate.
- Before you automatically take three bags of crisps because they are ‘on deal’ stop and ask the questions – Do I need it? Do I want this much in my pantry?
Just because it is on deal to buy three doesn’t mean you need three bags. Resist the temptation to be a marketer’s puppet! Buy what you need.
- Think carefully before you buy mini-cookies. This might backfire if it means that your kids eat handfuls of them. You might be best to buy standard size and stick to your guns that one or two is enough. Similarly single serve packs of crisps are excellent if they only eat one pack at a time.
Mini-muffins in theory are a great idea – you satisfy a sweet craving and eat a smaller portion. By the time the children are teens though, a single of mini-muffin doesn’t even touch the sides. Before you know it they have scoffed three or four. Better to stick to standard size and the odds of them being satisfied after one are higher. Jumbo-muffins or cookies should be avoided like the plague!
- ‘Accidentally-on-purpose’ run out of foods you want your kids to cut back on.
Simple if you want your kids to eat less biscuits – buy less of them. It’s okay – really it is! So this week buy two packets instead of three.
- Think seriously before loading sugar-laden drinks into your trolley.
If it is an easier sell to your kids, tell them you are buying less sugar-laden drinks to save money. Harder to argue over than the nutrition angle and result is the same – especially if you are saving for something that they want. Water is both cheaper and better.
- You have two packets of crackers in your hand and can’t decide which brand to buy – a few seconds looking at the label can help you decide which is a better choice. Ingredients to compare are fat and sodium – the lowest of each is best.
Lots of small changes make a big change.
It’s official, the best nutrition and education brains in the NZ have made a recommendation*, parents are advised to involve their kids in food shopping and cooking family meals.
WOW – what a trump card for parents. It is not just you nagging to get your kids to help – evidence from the experts actually backs you up! Your kids are likely to be healthier if they help. Why? Because study after study shows that a child who has practical food skills makes better food choices…
Okay, so this is good in theory, but how do you do it? It just so happens that I ran some focus groups with kids, aged 9 – 15 years, to find the sort of things parents could do to encourage cooking. What I found out was seriously enlightening, somewhat amusing and really helpful. These eight key points could verge on being precocious – but it certainly helps us if we know what they are thinking!
In their words, this is what parents should do…
1. Let me choose what I cook – ‘Simple – if I don’t like it, I’m not going to want to cook it.’
3. Have all the ingredients – ‘Don’t expect me to be able to substitute ingredients when I am just starting off on this cooking lark!’
4. Stay out of the kitchen – ‘Don’t be a helicopter hovering around. Give me some space to work things out – but stick around in case I need to ask.’
5. Resist ‘you should have’ comments’ – ‘If I want to know, I’ll ask.’
6. Be impressed – ‘If you expect me to do this again you need to be impressed, so you might have to “fake it ‘til I make it”. And don’t go telling all your friends if I burn something or do something stupid. Don’t make me look like a fool.’
7. Don’t nag – ‘If I take a bit longer than you do or I don’t clean up exactly like you do, cut me some slack – I have just cooked you a meal!’
8. Cut me a deal! – ‘If you expect me to buy into this “cook a meal once a week idea” there has to be something in it for me. This “skills for a lifetime” doesn’t really flick my switch – but money for the movies or that new dress does. You are probably going to buy me new stuff at some stage anyway, you may as well make me think I have earned it.’
Other recommendations include eating together as a family, eating from the four food groups daily, ensuring food safety and yet other guidelines looks at physical activity – because food cannot be considered in isolation if you are wanting a healthy child.
* On Aug 6th The Ministry of Health released Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children and Young People (aged 2-18 years). Full details, including downloadable brochures, may be found on www.healthed.govt.nz
It’s a bit scary every time we read a paper there are more frightening stats about how many of us aren’t making good food choices and the consequences of that. Claire’s latest blog shares a couple of excellent tools to encourage kids to remember ‘what you eat is your choice’. The first is to hold an image in their mind and the second is the classic little trick of 20/20 - which is good for all of us!!!
A word from Claire….
I am a dreamer so it sort of follows that I dream, or visualize, about food too.
When I think about my meals I sort if hold an image in my mind about what to eat. I ‘see’ my plate as being half fruit and vegetables or salad, quarter protein (meat, fish, eggs or poultry ) and quarter carbohydrates or grains (rice, pasta or breads – here’s the good part - I love potatoes and depending on who you listen to they can fit in two categories – veg or carbs!?)
When I put this image in mind I find it easy to help me choose how much of what to eat… it’s kind of fun trying to ‘untangle’ foods like fried rice too. It’s easy to fix if your plate gets distorted – sometimes the quarters look more like thirds – ’cos lets face it, it is usually the fruit and veg half that gets the nudge – just eat a carrot, tomato, orange, apple or a handful of grapes and your picture gets ‘right’. (According to the health guys, about 2/3′s of us don’t get the half bit right – so that is why they are always going on about it!?!)
The other day I learnt another cool trick – it’s 20/20. As you are taking your food stop and and consciously take 20% more fruit and vegetables and 20% less of everything else. I gotta say 20% more and 20% less isn’t hard at all – doesn’t make much difference to your meal but does to your skin and jean size!
So there you go - see a picture of a plate and play 20/20 – both easy…
No matter what country you live in, there is unilateral agreement that kids need to eat more fruit and vegetables – whether your local message is mix it up, 5 to 10 a day, go for 2 & 5, more matters or 5+ A Day - whatever it is, these two little tricks that Claire shares will help your kids reach the goals…
If you want to see more of Claire’s Blogs – nutrition and cooking tips in ‘teen-speak’ – written by a teen in a tone they relate too… check out her blog.
As a finalist in the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards there has been a fair bit of media interest… the highlight has been her interview on Breakfast TV and her chat with Coran Dan - follow the link and you will see her explain why she wrote the book. The interview focussed on her age (or lack of it!) and that a cookbook had never made it this far in the awards before – she also has a major grovel to get votes in the Children’s Choice award which is really funny! from my perspective I think the potential impact on teens and parents if a nutrition book could win is so huge – so if you haven’t already – please vote!!
The other exciting thing this week is her debut on the the Smalls Blacks in Kak’s Kitchen. This is now a regular event every Sunday morning at 7.30am for the next 25 weeks (and average about 10 times on Sky Sports and the Rugby Chanel) – it is pitched at younger children and the intent is definitely to encourage kids to have a go at cooking. I will load these to YouTubes but in the meantime just follow the TVNZ link and she is in Chapter one.
A study just released on US teens is scary, alarming and galvanizes my thoughts and intent about teaching kids to cook!
The problem seems to be pretty much the same worldwide - the trend to reliance on fast foods and kids not being able, or motivated, to fix a meal shows no sign of abating.
For some sobering reading check this out – but don’t get too depressed – there are some simple things you can do to counter this influence and encourage your kids to get some food skills … and you are in the right place to find them!
US adolescents get a fifth of their calories from fast food, study finds.
A study of the 12 largest fast food chains in the United States has criticised the energy, sugar, fat, and sodium content in the foods they market to children. Its authors hope that a combination of public outrage and the threat of new laws and enforcement of existing laws on truth in advertising may bring about the changes they seek.
The report, by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, was presented on 8 November at the 138th annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Denver.
It found that every day a third of US children and teenagers eat fast food; it is the source of 16-17% of the energy intake of adolescents.
From my perspective, as a parent I want to give my kids as many advantages in life as I can. I want my kids to be able to cook because success in any skill builds self esteem and cooking is absolutely no exception. I believe that imparting food skills also fosters personal responsibility so I feel confident that they will be better equipped to look after themselves.
I have found a great article written by Otago University nutrition student Jessica Meads, who shares her tips on getting teenagers into healthy eating habits. Jessica identifies four barriers – time, lack of interest, food phases and outside influencers, and gives solutions from her perspective on each of the barriers.
Her solution for lack of interest is certainly involvement in family cooking and echoes the philosophy of It’s my Turn to Cook. Jessica states “This will not only allow them to learn how to fend for themselves, it will also increase their awareness of what actually makes up their favourite meals” She goes on to say, “Encourage them to choose what they would like to cook each week, getting them to write down what ingredients they need. Through this you could encourage healthier meals to be tried or simply how a favourite meal could be made healthier. For example, asking them to make a salad to accompany the meal too or add extra veggies to a pasta dish. Hopefully their interest might be sparked and you never know – the next Jamie Oliver could be discovered!”
To read the whole article go to http://www.healthyfood.co.nz/articles/2010/february/top-tips-to-transform-your-teen
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