A Gentle Approach to Eating – PROJECT MUNCH #3 Options and Variety
Nutritional Therapist Sophie Tyner, from Grow Nutrition is passionate about empowering parents to raise happy, healthy and resilient kids supported by their food choices. She applies a gentle approach, sharing experiences and engaging all of a child’s senses when exploring accessible, affordable, REAL foods that will give them a head start in life.
Grow Nutrition is bringing to you and your family the opportunity to consider how you can embrace variety in your child’s eating. This is so important, because if you have a child who doesn’t want to try different foods it is easy to become stuck in a routine of serving them a select few foods that get rotated throughout the week and before you know it they are consuming these same foods, day in, day out, perpetuating the negative cycle of not being open to new foods.
Here are some ideas to increase variety:
Print a food rainbow colour chart (make it a sticker chart if this works for your family), stick this somewhere prominent in your kitchen to prompt you and your child each day to explore or eat a full range of colour. This is an excellent tool to aid consumption of a wide range of fresh produce.
If we continue to be food role models, we can apply this for our children to observe and follow. Always start where your child is at, if they are only eating one colour group such as red – tomatoes and a red apple a day see if they can choose something else that is red and swap this or apply the play approach to the other colour foods to get them confident with exploring new foods. We aren’t expecting miracles, time, patience and a playful approach using all of their senses with fresh produce goes a long way.
Snack times are a great time to provide new options and variety.
Presenting new foods away from mealtimes can be less stressful and often easier for your child to explore and try, especially when they are hungry. This also works well if you have a few children together as more confident eaters are great role models for their peers.
- A palmful of berries
- Seeded crackers and fresh vegetable sticks with hummus
- A small bowl of plain yogurt with fresh fruit and sunflower seeds
- Stuffed whole-wheat pitta pockets with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and cheese
- Fruit smoothie with a touch of spinach, avocado/courgette (these provide a creamy texture)
- Baked sweet potato fries
- Pepper slices with guacamole
- Apple slices/celery sticks dipped in peanut butter.
Take your child to a farmer’s market and choose a new fresh produce each time to explore and try. If your child is old enough investigate where and how it grows, find recipes together and make a new snack or meal with it – it’s not about whether they eat it the first time or even the 10th time it’s about providing opportunities to explore variety and you can enjoy it if they won’t!
Even if you can only introduce one new healthy option a week or even a month you are on the right path and more will follow in time. It’s not about the pressure of variety it’s about the fun together exploring food to get your child embracing the healthier options. Why? A varied diet ensures your child is provided with adequate nutrients to support their development, promoting good health and can help reduce the risk of disease later in life.
GROW: START YOUNG
These perfect smoothie ingredients are great for getting children to eat the rainbow! I am so passionate about educating and raising our kids to eat healthy from a young age.