Too often parents who are on a health kick fail to adjust their children’s diet in a way that suits everyone. Being healthy is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, but with a few tweaks you can create a healthy eating plan that everyone will love.
Working with Healthy Foods and Picky Eaters
Spring is on the way and it’s the ideal time to reassess our eating patterns and embark on a new health regime, eating cleaner food and making plans to hit the gym more regularly. But if you want to change your diet, where does that leave the rest of the family?
So often in my practice as a nutritional consultant I see parents who make the switch to, say, a Paleo diet, and briefly attempt to get their kids on board but fail at the first hurdle. They may try to get their children to eat a gluten-free buckwheat bread or try a green juice or kombucha, but when kids refuse these offerings their parents give up and switch back to giving kids their “normal” fare while continuing on their own health journey.
So many diets out there have an “all or nothing” approach and it’s important to remember that children are not as driven as adults are to eat healthy just for the sake of being healthy. Adults are incentivised by the desire to feel and look better and sexier or to live longer, whereas kids are mainly concerned with what tastes good! And if their taste buds are accustomed to sugary, processed foods it’s difficult to wean them off sweet, brightly packaged products.
How to Transition Your Family to a Healthier Lifestyle
The best way to transition your whole family to a healthier lifestyle is by taking baby steps towards your goals and being patient with the process. Here are some tips:
When it comes to treats...
...don’t deny your child, just give treats a healthy overhaul and offer them a replacement you’ll both be happy with. If you want to eliminate a particular food, you need to have a good replacement in mind. Plan ahead!
Pre-order a copy of my new cookbook The Wholesome Child
It contains an eight-step guide to help transition your family to eating whole foods. There is a limited early bird offer of just $15 for the e-book.
If you are cutting back on carbs...
...don’t remove bread from your child’s diet overnight, instead make small, gradual changes. If your child loves sandwiches, switch to a good quality sourdough, then start to reduce wheat and rotate your grain intake.
Similarly, if your child loves dairy and you’d like to cut back
Get rid of highly processed cheese slices and opt for a good-quality grass-fed cheese product. Try a goat’s cheese and then start adding milk alternatives.
When cutting back on sugar
Start by replacing white sugar in the home with coconut sugar, replace honey with a good-quality raw organic honey or maple syrup and use dates in your baking to sweeten breakfast foods or banana bread and bliss balls, for example. If your child is older, you can opt for 100 per cent natural stevia (avoid erythritol and if a recipe says 1 cup sugar, use ½ cup coconut sugar and 1/8th spoon of pure stevia).
Make clever swaps
If your child loves chocolate brownies, try our recipe for Wholesome Child Black Bean Brownies (see below). Or if they like orange cordial, replace it with a fresh mango, carrot and orange juice and gradually swap out the fruit with more veggies, or add water.
Focus on staples
Remember we can’t change everything at once. Focus on the main foods your child eats daily and try to improve on that. For example, if your child loves peanut butter, swap to a sugar-free, vegetable oil-free version. If they love margarine, swap to butter, choose a grass-fed unsalted version.
It’s not just kids who benefit from the “go-slow” approach. By making small but significant changes to your diet you are more likely to succeed because it is a sustainable way to move forward.
Wholesome Child Black Bean Brownies
Prep Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 25-30 min
Servings: 16 mini brownies (approx.)
- 400g black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, plus a little more for coating the baking dish
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
- 2 tbsp carob powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tsp vanilla powder or extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- Preheat oven to 160 C.
- Grease a small square baking dish with coconut oil.
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and process at a high speed until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check after 25 minutes by sliding a knife into the brownie. If it comes away clean, the brownies are ready.
Serving and Storage
Allow to cool before cutting into little squares. Serve with coconut cream and fresh strawberries for a dessert treat.
These brownies may be a treat, but they’re also a protein-packed addition to lunch boxes. To increase sweetness for children who are used to the real deal,
Mandy Sacher is a certified Paediatric Nutritionist and Founder of Wholesome Child. Her clinical practice focuses on prenatal and childhood nutrition, helping parents and mums-to-be-feed their children healthy, nourishing foods right from the start. Her first cookbook The Wholesome Child is available for pre-order on Kickstarter.