08 Mar Healthy Eating for Children
In this blog post I interview my friend and colleague, Naturopath Bree Jenner from the Health & Wellbeing Studio. Bree has a special interest in helping families and children. In this Q & A I ask her questions on how to best support healthy, growing families, naturally.
How do I incorporate more nutritious foods into my child’s diet?
I’m an advocate for involving kids in what they eat to promote ongoing positive life choices around nutrition and a healthy relationship with food. This helps them understand their bodies and how food makes them feel. My top 3 tips include:
- Eat a Rainbow a Day – colour is key, and a fun way to get kids involved in food choices.
- Provide healthy options – limit the amount of sugary and refined foods in the house. Offering a choice of healthy snack options such as a prominent bowl of fruit or veggie platter and dip in the fridge.
- Bulk up meals such as soups, stews, pasta sauces, even sandwiches, wraps and frittatas with a rainbow of vegetables at every opportunity – grated or pureed fruits and veggies blend well into sauces.
Any advice for parents of fussy eaters?
The key to approaching fussy eaters patience and positivity.
- Offer new foods a little bit at a time, a number of times.
- Try new foods prepared in different ways.
- Work with the styles of foods that your child enjoys – smoothies, colours, things to dip, eating with their hands, choosing their own plate, silly names for foods.
- Hide it. Although this seems to work against empowering children to make their own choices, however sometimes getting the nutrients in can influence the senses that are contributing to their limited food choices:
- The cycle of carbohydrate cravings means less supportive nutrients getting in, and the body craving more carbohydrates.
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause gut inflammation that can affect nutrient digestion and perpetuate the cycle as the body craves more energy.
- Some nutrient deficiencies can affect the taste and smell of foods.
- Hiding strongly flavoured foods can provides some of these essential nutrients, but also exposes tastebuds to the flavours, even if masked by other stronger, more palatable flavours such as berries.
Children tend to bring home different “bugs, viruses and colds” from school. How can we best support their immune system?
- Eating a Rainbow a Day is a great start to arming children against the bugs they are exposed to at school and kinder. Each colour of the rainbow represents different types of plant nutrients that we need to build healthy immune systems.
- Our gut is particularly good at letting us know when something isn’t right. We just need to know how to listen to the stories it tells (bloating, diahorrea, constipation, pain, etc). Protect the gut with a healthy environment of beneficial bacteria by including lots of fibre (prebiotics) found in fruit, vegetables, nuts seeds and wholegrains. Also include fermented foods (probiotics) found in unsweetened probiotic yoghurt, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut.
- Flu-busting, immune-boosting Medicinal Foods such as garlic, ginger, chili, raw honey, bone broth, shiitake mushrooms, turmeric, and loads of dark leafy greens for zinc and vitamins A and C are great to add to nourishing soups and other recipes to ward off bugs.
There’s many vitamins and supplements available now for children in the supermarket and chemist. How do I know what’s the best one for my child?
To get the best outcome from supplementation of any kind, I highly recommend seeing a health practitioner before heading down that track. In an ideal world, a diverse whole food diet should provide all the nutrients needed to thrive. However, that is not always the case between food allergies and our environment. If you are concerned that your child is lacking in certain nutrients, or is displaying symptoms, it is best to speak to a health practitioner. They will be able to determine whether there is underlying causes of the symptoms or nutrient deficiencies. From this they can assess whether supplementation is recommended. They will select the best form, blend or type of supplement required for your child’s individual needs.
What are some of the most common reasons a parent might bring their child to a naturopath?
Naturopathy offers a holistic approach to wellness. Its foundation is built upon the importance of healthy food, clean fresh water, sunlight, exercise, nature and mindfulness as medicine. Naturopathy uses evidence based nutritional and herbal supplementation to help support the body to heal itself and optimise wellness and vitality.
A naturopath will work with you and your child as well as other supportive health practitioners to investigate and understand the cause of an imbalance or illness. They will also work with the symptoms that are experienced. Using dietary and lifestyle advice that can be incorporated into daily life, a naturopath can provide you with an understanding of what can fuel your child’s body in a way that is fundamental to good health and can set them up for life.
Common conditions that a naturopath can help with include immune conditions, skin conditions, digestive complaints, allergies and behavioral concerns.
Bree is a degree qualified Naturopath based in Camberwell, with a passion for treating children and their families and a love of cooking and creating new recipes. She has combined her loves to develop the simple lunchbox (www.thesimplelunchbox.com.au) to help families create simple, nutritious lunchboxes to nourish their children. Bree strongly believes in the power of using food as medicine and as a foundation of illness prevention and growing strong, vibrant, resilient children.
To contact Bree for more information or further support for your child see below:
Bree Jenner – BHSc (Naturopathy)
The Health & Wellbeing Studio
1160 Toorak Road
Camberwell VIC 4124
P | 1300 651 936